Lyor Cohen Told The Story Behind That Infamous Group Picture With Kanye West Wearing A MAGA Hat

Senior Music Writer
05.17.18

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It was one of the more shocking pictures that anyone has posted to social media in quite some time. Kanye West wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, flanked by two of the most powerful men in the entire music industry, smiling along. To his direct right is Lyor Cohen, one-time head of 300 Entertainment and currently YouTube’s Global Head of Music. Further to his right is Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Cohen decided to shed a little bit more light about that particular picture. “We were [in Calabasas] because Kanye wanted to play us some music,” he said. “I was on the way to the restroom and there was Lucian and Kanye was coming out, and he said, ‘Oh wow, we’re all together. Let’s take a photo.’ I thought he was going to take a photo and send it to Lucian and myself. I had no idea that he was going to put that on social media.”

One of the most disturbing aspects of the shot was Cohen’s flashing of the “okay” hand gesture, a symbol that had recently been co-opted by the alt-right. But as he told Pitchfork, Cohen was flatly unaware of the connection. “Isn’t that scuba for when you’re in the water and you’re all good?”

He also added that he doesn’t agree with Kanye’s current political leanings and wishes he would stick to his music, which he’s says is quite good. “I don’t love his politics but I was really impressed with the music. I think he’s doing himself a disservice by not leading with the music.”

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