Lyor Cohen is one of the all-time great rap music executives. He started out as a live-show promoter, booking bands like Fear and the Circle Jerks on the same bills as rap groups like Run-D.M.C. He moved onto Def Jam, where he spearheaded the label’s late-’90s renaissance, helping bring Jay-Z and DMX on board. From there, he went to Warner, where he was instrumental in the rise of people like T.I. Lately, he’s started 300 Entertainment, his own company, where he’s been smart enough to sign people like Fetty Wap and Migos. But there’s been some evidence lately that he doesn’t quite get the rap-music landscape, as it exists right now.
Consider, if you will, Young Thug, a 300 signing. Cohen deserves a lot of credit for pulling Thug out of label-limbo hell and helping push him toward stardom. But Thug works in a peculiar way. He cranks out music at an absurdly fast rate, freestyling all his songs. A lot of his power, his mystique, is in his ability to keep new music churning out. Cohen wants to stop that.
A new episode of the CNBC show Follow The Leader, which profiles entrepreneurs, focuses on Cohen. That means the show’s cameras were there to record a conversation where Cohen basically told Young Thug to stop being Young Thug: “If you don’t freestyle and you actually work on the singles and record great choruses and develop your songs, yes. You just record so many songs and leave them like little orphans out there, K? You have to come back to them. Yes, you do!” A few clips from the episode are out there online, but you can watch the relevant one below, via Pigeons And Planes.
3rd Bass said it in 1989: “Elroy! Elroy! Elroy Cohen! Gets the gas face!”