"When most people throw money at things, Lyor throws creativity. His vision is just different." Russell Simmons
Born in Manhattan, Lyor Cohen was raised in California and attended college in Southern Florida, before moving to LA where he began promoting shows at The Mix Club. With a sharp eye for talent, Cohen gave the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Run-DMC some of their first shows.
Def Jam founder Russell Simmons asked Cohen to join him at Rush Entertainment, where Cohen signed DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Eric B and Rakim, EPMD and Slick Rick to name just a few.
Simmons gave Cohen an equity stake in Def Jam, which they jointly sold to Universal for $130 million in 1999. Cohen retained his position as Island Def Jam CEO.
In 2004, he left Def Jam to become Head of North American Operations for Warner Music Group.
Agree with our selection? Have your say.