DMX Credited for Saving Def Jam Records by Lyor Cohen

In the wake of the 'X Gon' Give It to Ya' rapper's passing, the music executive recalls the time he was seriously considering retirement due to competition with Diddy and Bad Boy Records.

AceShowbiz - Music mogul Lyor Cohen has paid DMX the ultimate tribute, crediting the late rapper for saving his Def Jam Records label.

The music executive admits he was seriously considering retirement - because he felt he couldn't compete with flamboyant rival P. Diddy over at Bad Boy Records - when Irv Gotti introduced him to Earl Simmons.

"I didn't know if I could contribute anymore, especially since Puffy [Diddy] and Bad Boy were dominating the airwaves," Lyor tells Billboard. "Bad Boy, at that time, was all about aspirational, high technicolor, Versace and Rolls Royces. Def Jam's architecture is black-and-white, with shades of grey. For me, I was contemplating retirement at the time. There's nobody who could compete with Puffy when it comes to technicolor and aspiration."

"When Irv invited me to go to Yonkers and I met X, I remembered one of the things we really enjoyed doing was getting really quick photo shoots of artists we're interested in... just to see if the magic of what we thought the artist was could be captured by a camera... and it was at that moment I realized there was more [for us to contribute], because it was a black-and-white photo..."

"At that moment, I knew that the common person who wasn't thinking about Versace suits... and the reality of their struggle came into play. That was a real moment that I remember. I think everyone was tired of the technicolor and wanted something more real and down-to-earth. It resembled a life they know."

Cohen's former partner, Kevin Liles, agrees, adding, "I truly believe he [DMX] wasn't just a rapper. He was a minister, and someone put here at that particular time to be a voice of the unheard."

Lyor admits it was so obvious X had the "it" factor even his mum would be able to tell he was a star, "I'd like to say that if my mother was in the room, she'd pull me aside and tell me, 'That's the one!' It was so obvious that you didn't need to be an expert."

"The molecules in the room changed. All the other rappers ran like cockroaches to light. It was night-and-day. We were waiting there for over an hour. We didn't know what we were there for, but when he walked in, we realized precisely what we were there for."

DMX died earlier this month (April 2021), a week after suffering a heart attack. He will be honored by his family, friends and fans at a memorial at the Barclays Center in New York on Saturday, April 24.

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