Storied Hip Hop Executive Lyor Cohen Honored at the City of Hope Spirit of Life Gala

Celebrating Hip Hop 50, the event featured guest performances from LL Cool J with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Slick Rick, Kurtis Blow, Redman, and more.

Cancer research and treatment organization City of Hope honored legendary music industry veteran Lyor Cohen at its Music, Film and Entertainment Industry fundraising group’s Spirit of Life Gala event inside Pacific Design Center.

With a theme this year celebrating hip hop’s 50th birthday, the yearly gathering showcased a remarkable show by LL Cool J and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Additionally, the event included a carefully curated segment titled "DJ Cassidy's Pass The Mic Live!" featuring a lineup that included, in the order of their appearance, Slick Rick, Kurtis Blow, Big Daddy Kane, MC Serch, Nice 'N Smooth, EPMD, Redman, Onyx, Warren G, Domino, Musiq Soulchild, Dru Hill, Ja Rule, T.I., Swizz Beatz, and Public Enemy.

Drink Champs host N.O.R.E. also served as the guest host. Interestingly, the most recent episode of the popular podcast featured Cohen discussing his rise throughout hip hop, including being Run-DMC’s road manager, co-founding 300 Entertainment, and his current role as the Global Head of Music at Google & YouTube. Cohen's extensive involvement in hip-hop spans over three decades, witnessing its evolution from a niche subculture to mainstream prominence.

His journey began as a talent manager for accomplished rappers under the pioneering Rush Productions. Subsequently, he took the helm at Def Jam Recordings, then the preeminent label in hip-hop. Following his tenure at Def Jam, Cohen assumed leadership at Warner Music Group, one of the music industry's major labels representing artists across diverse genres, including rap, rock, and country. In September 2012, Cohen decided to part ways with Warner Music Group, paving the way for creating his independent label, 300 Entertainment, before leaving for his current role at Google.

Public Enemy de-facto leader Chuck D bestowed the City of Hope's Spirit of Life Award upon Cohen, reaffirming the icon's pivotal role in the ascent of hip-hop.

“Lyor has always been a polarizing figure as well as being a pioneer, but we got to keep truth to that,” said Chuck D. “Polarizing; The good, bad, the ugly pioneer means you break through the turbulence of the bullshit and wherever you get into orbit, that's your achievement.”

The Spirit of Life Award, the most esteemed accolade bestowed by City of Hope, is granted to global industry leaders who have demonstrated a substantial dedication to enhancing the well-being of others through the progression of research, clinical innovation, and the provision of individualized, empathetic healthcare.

Under Cohen's leadership, MFEI successfully generated more than $4.3 million in support of City of Hope's mission to tackle the obstacles confronting underserved communities in their pursuit of high-quality cancer care. During his acceptance speech, Cohen discussed his historic career and the need to make cancer treatment available for people from all walks of life.

“All of this life is so much sweeter knowing that I get to share it with you and to The City of Hope and all the doctors and the nurses and the board members, let's kill cancer,” said Cohen. “And by the way, let's make your magic more accessible to people of color by investing in new ways to reach them.”

Following the event, which featured guests ranging from Diddy to Jermaine Dupri and Gunna, Kid Capri served as the DJ for the after-party.

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