Lyor Cohen‘s recent appearance on Drink Champs brought out some wild stories. But the wildest of all might be the longtime music exec’s memory of the time his signing of Warren G caused him and a gun-toting Chris Lighty to dodge a furious Suge Knight.
The story is set in the mid-1990s. Cohen was at the time the president of Def Jam. The label had recently signed Warren G, after the Cali rapper had come to the label’s attention via A&R executive and manager Paul Stewart.
“We were really excited about being down with Def Jam,” Stewart told Rolling Stone back in 2014. “Def Jam had missed out on all the West Coast stuff. Death Row was killing it. So they were smart, and saw an opportunity.”
There was an issue with taking advantage of that opportunity, though. Warren is Dr. Dre‘s stepbrother, and grew up with Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg (the three were a group, called 213, as early as 1990).
Lyor Cohen says Suge Knight was upset when Def Jam signed Warren G and states that Suge Knight and his crew came after him while he was in LA.
Plus, Lyor Cohen also reveals he visited Suge Knight in prison.
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It seems like Suge Knight, then head of Death Row Records, didn’t like Def Jam signing someone with so many close connections to his own camp. So when Lyor was on the West Coast, Suge attempted to approach him.
“I was at the Palace, on Vine Street,” Cohen remembered. “And Chris Lighty comes up to me and pulls out a gun, and says, ‘Come this way.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He says, ‘Look over there.’ And it was Suge and his crew coming after me.”
“This was after I signed Warren G,” Cohen clarified. “And [Suge] was very upset.”
“Chris has me go through the kitchen…Finally got to the Four Seasons [hotel], took me through the kitchen, to my room,” he concluded.
You can hear the full story, with some bonus content about Cohen visiting Suge in prison, above. The full Drink Champs episode was released on Friday (October 13) and runs nearly two hours.