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Lyor Cohen on Kanye West MAGA Hat Photo: “I Don’t Love His Politics”

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Music Executive Lyor Cohen attends the Brooklyn Artists Ball 2017 at Brooklyn Museum on April 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

In an interview with Pitchfork regarding his new YouTube Music streaming service, Lyor Cohen discussed the infamous picture that Kanye West tweeted last month, which features Cohen and Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grange sitting and smiling next to a MAGA-hat-clad West. In the photo, Cohen is making an “OK” hand sign that some initially interpreted as an alt-right gesture, but which a spokesperson for Cohen and YouTube told Spin in April was “representative of the company he founded, 300 Entertainment and absolutely nothing more.”

However, Cohen offered a contradictory reading to Pitchfork, saying the symbol was more along the lines of a simple “OK”: “Isn’t that scuba for when you’re in the water and you’re all good?”

In regards to the context for the picture, Cohen explained: “We were [in Calabasas] because Kanye wanted to play us some music. I was on the way to the restroom and there was Lucian and Kanye was coming out, and he said, ‘Oh wow, we’re all together. Let’s take a photo.’ I thought he was going to take a photo and send it to Lucian and myself. I had no idea that he was going to put that on social media.”

He then offered his own vague disapproval for West’s recent expressions of support for Donald Trump and other controversial, right-leaning viewpoints while continuing to tout his new recordings. “I don’t love his politics but I was really impressed with the music,” Cohen said. “I think he’s doing himself a disservice by not leading with the music.”