“Lyor Cohen changed my life,” mentioned rapper and Drink Champs host N.O.R.E., chatting with the packed open-air area at Pacific Design Heart in Los Angeles on Wednesday night time (Oct. 18).
He was considered one of many to specific appreciation for Cohen all through the night, throughout which business titans (resembling Lucian Grainge, Sylvia Rhone, Jon Platt, Julie Greenwald and extra) mingled with hip-hop royalty (resembling Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Ludacris, Diddy and others). In any case, the style’s fiftieth anniversary simply to occurs to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Metropolis of Hope‘s philanthropic partnership with the Music, Movie and Leisure Business (MFEI) — making Cohen, contemplating his contributions to and influence on hip-hop, in addition to his beneficiant spirit and advocacy for accessible and inexpensive look after all, an excellent recipient of the Metropolis of Hope 2023 Spirit of Life Award.
And although his honor was revealed again in March, the occasion itself got here at an unexpectedly becoming time, because it appeared the complete music business was ready to listen to from Cohen (the son of Israeli immigrants) on present occasions unfolding in Israel and Gaza. It appeared that he, too, had been ready for this second and platform to share them.
“With all that’s going on in the world, Lyor, you powered though,” mentioned Evan Lamberg, Metropolis of Hope’s MFEI board president. Lamberg additionally referred to as Cohen – present world head of music at YouTube and Google – “indomitable,” noting his 93-year-old mom was in attendance, amongst many different members of Cohen’s household.
However earlier than Cohen himself may converse, there was the enterprise of fundraising. Diddy kicked issues off, changing into the primary to donate on the entry level of $100,000. Dozens adopted, finally elevating over $4.3 million. (Over the course of its 50-year partnership with Metropolis of Hope, the MFEI has raised a complete of $150 million to treatment and stop most cancers, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and different life-threatening ailments.)
Subsequent up was the long-awaited efficiency, for which the group was spoiled with a unending parade of hip-hop and R&B greats as DJ Cassidy introduced his Move the Mic Stay! franchise to the stage (a lot of which Jay-Z, seated on the Sony Music desk subsequent to Platt, bobbed alongside to). After Cassidy devoted the set to Cohen (“an icon behind the scenes”), what adopted was a 30-plus-minute jaw-dropping present throughout which the mic was handed practically 20 occasions to artists and teams together with: Slick Rick, Kurtis Blow, Large Daddy Kane, MC Serch, Good ‘N Clean, EPMD, Redman, Onyx, Warren G, Domino, Musiq Soulchild, Dru Hill, Ja Rule, T.I. with Swizz Beatz and Public Enemy, who ended with an all-star rendition of “Fight the Power.”
Simply earlier than 9:45 (45 minutes after the occasion’s scheduled finish time), Cohen’s congratulatory video began to play, that includes everybody from Busta Rhymes and Slim to Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald. Chuck D then returned to the stage to introduce Cohen, delivering a very memorable opening line: “[Run-]D.M.C. says hip-hop succeeds where religions and governments fail – and that’s ironic at this particular time right now.”
It’s a sentiment that set the tone for Cohen to ship his personal anticipated speech, which started with the sound of a pc glitching because the lights switched off (“Lights!” exclaimed Chuck, to which Lyor motioned all was nicely… it was all a part of the plan). Cohen opted to open with an excerpt of the well-known “final speech” delivered by Charlie Chaplin within the 1940 movie The Nice Dictator, wherein he finally requires unity.
“We came here to help eradicate cancer, but wouldn’t it be great if we could also eradicate hate?” mentioned Cohen as soon as the lights got here again on. He spoke of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist assault at a music pageant in Israel, saying it’s going to by no means be forgotten and calling for the instant return of those that had been kidnapped and are nonetheless being held hostage. “I’m so sorry to hijack this special event to express my feelings as a human,” he mentioned, “just as I express them when injustices happen to anyone targeted because of their race or religion or sexual identity… My heart goes out to all the Palestinian people in the region that have had to endure unnecessary loss of life. I pray for peace – won’t you join me?”
He proceeded to specific gratitude for his household, a lot of whom had been in attendance and lots of of whom, as he mentioned, couldn’t make it “because they are burying Israeli children.” He then thanked the room for “a lifetime of tolerance and kindness and unwavering belief in the mission,” calling out Greenwald (“for always trying to make everyone better with love”), Liles (“you’re a selfless warrior”), Russell Simmons (“thank you for this wonderful life that I live”) and the “great music and great artists that I’ve had the honor of serving.”
Lastly, Cohen addressed “the additional controversy,” saying “I’m so sick and tired of people thinking that celebrity and fame trumps great music and artistry. We’re in a funky monkey moment but don’t get it twisted, quality will always prevail.”
LL Cool J then closed out the night time (alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff and Adam Blackstone) with a medley of hits together with “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Earlier than stepping off stage, he addressed Cohen straight: “We went through a lot… and it all ended up really great.”
And because the crowd began to shuffle out, he shared one last message – and it completely underscored the ethos of the complete night time: “Erase the Hate.”