None of the millennials watching 6’5” Lyor Cohen, once dissed as the “tall Israeli” by rapper Mos Def in a controversial 2004 song, glide graciously onstage at Cannes Lions Tuesday could imagine what it was like to interview him at Def Jam in the mid-1990s.
Cohen, 59, clad in pressed jeans, a crisp white shirt and navy blue jacket, first seemed like the avuncular and soft-spoken headmaster of a New England prep school as he took questions from BBC Radio 1 deejay Annie Mac.
In his latest incarnation as YouTube’s global music head — a gig he convincingly made sound like his most exciting ever — he said the company’s new streaming music app signals “a new love affair” for the music industry after two decades of somnolence.
And, in other words, watch out, Apple and Spotify.
“It’s an incredible time to be in music,” he said. “Did you see Beyonce destroy Coachella? It was mind-boggling what she did. You saw it on Youtube. We’re better than OK right now. Fortunes are gonna get made.”