Longtime music executive Lyor Cohen revealed some Hip Hop history while visiting The Breakfast Club on Wednesday (August 1).
The 300 Entertainment founder and YouTube’s Global Head of Music attributes his “old school” values of loyalty and power of his word to how he handles business and signs acts.
“I never signed an act because I was afraid of losing them,” Cohen said. “I only signed an act because I wanted them on my label. Different mentality these days. I never signed an act because … Man, when one act says to me, ‘Oh, man, another label is interested in me,’ I said ‘Go ahead with yourself. I’m not interested in you anymore.”
According to Cohen, one of the biggest artists in Hip Hop today didn’t uphold themselves to the same standards after agreeing to a record deal with the veteran executive.
At the 18-minute mark of the interview, The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne Tha God asked Cohen to verify a rumor about his attempt to sign Drake early in the rap star’s career. Cohen confirmed he offered Drake a record deal before the “In My Feelings” artist ultimately signed to Cash Money Records.
“The truth is Drake shook my hand,” Cohen said. “Shook my hand.”
After co-host DJ Envy asked if the deal was to sign with 300 Entertainment or Def Jam, Cohen replied, “Def Jam, son.”
However, Cohen doesn’t hold any grudges against Drake for snubbing him on the deal.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “He didn’t stop the party. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for his fans. It’s all good. It didn’t hurt my feelings, but I’m old school. I come from a different thing.”
The timeline of Cohen offering Drake a record deal with Def Jam wasn’t detailed in the interview but seems a bit off based on Cohen’s claims. In January 2004, Cohen left his post at Def Jam to become chairman/CEO of Warner Music Group. He then left the Warner company in 2012, and launched 300 Entertainment in 2013.
Drake officially signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint in 2009 and has been with the label ever since. In a 2010 interview with Complex, Cohen did lament that failing to sign Drake was “a very disappointed thing” during his tenure at WMG.
Elsewhere in the lengthy interview, Cohen told in-depth backstories of legendary rap acts he signed and managed throughout his 35-year career in the music business. He also answered questions about the infamous selfie with Kanye West wearing a MAGA hat, his philosophy on artist development and Rich The Kid’s desire to leave 300 Ent.