Lyor Cohen on Trying to Bring Drake to Def Jam: ‘The Truth Is He Shook My Hand’

The legendary music exec took time to talk about the Migos and 300 Entertainment debacle, Rich the Kid, Kanye West, and how he almost inked a deal with Drake while heading Def Jam.

View this video on YouTube

Lyor Cohen, YouTube's Global Head of Music, stopped by The Breakfast Club to chop it up with the hosts about, well, everything. The legendary music exec took time to discuss the Migos and 300 Entertainment debacle, Rich the Kid, Kanye West, and how he almost inked a deal with Drake while heading Def Jam.


“The truth is Drake shook my hand,” Cohen said, when asked why the deal fell through (around the 18-minute mark). “It doesn’t matter. He didn’t stop the party. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for his fans.”

As Charlamagne pointed out, Cohen later found out the deal was annulled at an award show. “It didn’t hurt my feelings, but you know I’m old school,” he explained.

In an interview with Complex back in 2010, when Cohen helmed Warner Music Group after leaving Def Jam, the exec talked about another situation where a deal with Drake fell through:

Speaking of new artists, many people were expecting Drake to sign with you at Warner Music. Did it disappoint you that he ended up going with Universal Motown?

About half way through the interview, the subject of Kanye’s infamous MAGA hat-wearing selfie comes up. Cohen was in the photo alongside Kanye and CEO of Universal Music Group Lucian Grainge, but claimed he didn’t know Ye was sporting the controversial headwear.

"I didn't see the hat. I was so mesmerized by being invited [to Calabasas]. You know, Kanye is a beautiful host," he said around the 43-minute mark. "We walked into his gorgeous place where he does the clothing and the sneakers. I'm here having an incredible time being with him...So, no I didn't look at his hat at all. I was fully immersed in the experience and I was so honored, again, to be there like 'Wow.'"

He did admit that after the photo went viral, his phone blew up. "Everybody's blowing my shit up like, 'Bro what's going on?' And, that's when I realized what happened. It was so fascinating to see,” he said.

Cohen’s not only close with the likes of Kanye, but maintains a strong relationship with JAY-Z. Despite this, the music mogul pulled a Mariah Carey and claimed he never met Dame Dash. “Who’s Dame Dash?” he said after Charlamagne brought him up (50:25 mark). “I don’t even know him. I don’t know what to tell you.” 

It didn't take long for Dame to respond. 

Later on in the interview, the topic of Rich the Kid, Migos, and 300 Entertainment come up at the 58-minute mark. The hosts show Cohen a video clip Rich posted earlier this week where he rants about trying to get out of his contract with 300.

"I don't feel good about hearing that, but it sounds like he's a clown. Maybe it's a late night 'something.' Here's the thing. I give money early. I sign a contract early. What about a contract-money doesn't mean anything these days?" Cohen responded to the clip. "I don't know what his problem is. He should call me. He has my number. You see if he calls me."

This brought up 300’s debacle with Migos back in 2016, when the trio decided to leave the label.  

Listen to the entire interview in the video above.

Latest in Music