Record Labels

Warner Music Shoots Down Atlantic Records UK President Ben Cook Exit Rumors

Warner Music Group
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Warner Music Group logo.

"No artists were involved in our decision-making."

Warner Music has denied tabloid reports that superstar grime rapper Stormzy was behind Wednesday's shock exit of Atlantic Records U.K. president Ben Cook
Cook stepped down from the frontline Warner label Wednesday over what he described as an “offensive” and “terrible mistake” that he made seven years ago when he went to a party dressed as a member of Run-D.M.C.

Cook was disciplined by Warner bosses for the incident last year, but said he had decided to step down after allegations continued to be made against him and the label.

According to British newspaper The Sun, Stormzy told senior label bosses that he would quit Atlantic if Cook remained in his post.  

“He stepped in and made it clear he would not be prepared to keep working with them if Ben stayed, and also that he might go public with the details of why,” The Sun quotes a source as saying.

The paper also alleges Stormzy banned Cook from standing at the side of the stage at his headline Glastonbury set in the summer.

Responding to the reports, a spokesperson for Warner Music Group tells Billboard, “That’s simply not true. No artists were involved in our decision-making.”

Cook joined the U.K. arm of Atlantic from British independent Ministry of Sound in 2007 and is credited with signing and developing the careers of Ed Sheeran and BRIT Award-winning dance act Rudimental, among others. He was promoted to president of Atlantic U.K. in 2014.

Following the news that he would be leaving the label, grime MC Wiley, who had previously worked with the exec, tweeted: "Ben Cook is not racist. Give that man back his job."

British rapper Kojey Radical also defended the label exec, tweeting, "Very dumb move, past or present. But he ain’t a racist."

Parlophone co-president Mark Mitchell has since assumed leadership of Atlantic on an interim basis.