Atlantic Records UK Chief Ben Cook Steps Down Amid Blackface Controversy

Photo: getty
Atlantic Records UK Chief Ben Cook Steps Down Amid Blackface Controversy

Atlantic Records U.K. president Ben Cook announced his resignation as a result of blackface controversy when he dressed up as a member of Run-DMC at a birthday party seven years ago.

“It is with great sadness that today I announce I am stepping down as President of Atlantic Records, UK,” he said in a statement. “Seven years ago, at a birthday party where guests were asked to come dressed as their favorite musical icon, I came as a member of Run-DMC. Late last year rumors began to circulate about my appearance at that event, many of which are simply untrue. While my intention was to honor a musical hero, I recognize my appearance was offensive and I made a terrible mistake,” Cook said in a statement according to Page Six.

He continued, “As a consequence of this, I readily agreed to disciplinary actions by my employer last year,” he continues. “Since then, however, allegations surrounding the party have continued to be made against me. Moreover, they have been used against a wonderful company and the label I love. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I should make this statement and step down, with immediate effect.”

Who is Ben Cook?  

1. The British rapper Stormzy is allegedly the reason for Cook’s resignation.

Allegedly, when this information surfaced about Cook, Stormzy threatened to quit the Atlantic label in protest, according to The Telegraph.

According to The Sun, “Stormzy banned Cook from standing near the stage at his headline Glastonbury performance in June and is said to have told senior figures at Warner Music, the parent company of Atlantic, that he would leave the label if Cook was not fired.”

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2. Warner Music denied claims that rapper Stomzy was the reason.

According to Billboard, Warner Music denied that the Stormzy had any involvement in Cook's resignation.“That’s simply not true,” a spokesperson told Music Business Worldwide. “No artists were involved in our decision-making.”

3. He helped launch many famous musicians careers

Cook is well known for kickstarting many famous British musicians including Ed Sheeran, who he gave his first record deal to, as well as signing Stormzy and Rita Ora, according to The Telegraph.

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4. Many have defended Cook, demanding his job back.

Many have come to Cook’s defense, demanding his job back. Grime MC Wiley, who worked with Cook in 2008 said, "Ben Cook is not racist. Give that man back his job." Another rapper, Kojey Radical, tweeted: "Very dumb move, past or present. But he ain't a racist."

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5. The photo has not surfaced online.

It’s kind of unheard of for someone who portrayed blackface to lose their job without photographic evidence but Cook took full responsibility for his actions. According to Page Six, “The actual photo of Cook in costume has not surfaced online, but many presume he wore blackface.”

6. Mark Mitchell has taken his place.

According to Billboard, “Parlophone co-president Mark Mitchell has since assumed leadership of Atlantic on an interim basis.” There is no information on how long Mitchell will remain in this position or if there may be a reconsideration of Cook's return.

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Elizabeth Ward is a writing student finishing her bachelor’s at the University of Louisville. She covers news, entertainment, relationships and everything in between.