Law & Order
High-powered lawyer Bradford Cohen has been fighting legal cases for some of rap’s biggest names for over two decades. From Drake to Lil Wayne to Kodak Black and more, the powerful attorney continues to rack up big wins for his clients.
Interview: C. Vernon Coleman II
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Spring 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

When Drake raps, "In and out these courtrooms, my lawyer like, ‘Objection!’” on the track “On BS,” there’s a chance he’s referring to Bradford Cohen. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based attorney recently repped the rapper when Drake was subpoenaed for the XXXTentacion murder trial this past February. Just like Drizzy, when Lil Wayne, Kodak Black, Pooh Shiesty, Polo G and others had legal issues and needed major help, Cohen has been the legal representative they called on.

Practicing law for nearly 25 years, the 51-year-old Long Meadow, Mass. native got his first taste arguing cases when he brazenly represented himself in court for a speeding ticket at 16 years old. Despite still receiving a fine, Cohen was bitten by the legal bug. After graduating from Western New England University in 1997, Cohen attended Nova Southeastern Law School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Following two years interning at the Florida State Attorney’s Office and passing the bar exam, the eager new attorney started his own practice, Bradford Cohen Law, in 1999.

Cohen scored his first rap client not long after he began practicing when he was hired by Vanilla Ice in the early 2000s. The attorney worked on everything from the “Ice Ice Baby” rapper’s domestic violence case, which was dismissed, to an incident with the artist’s escaped pet kangaroo. With Cohen growing in popularity over the years as a fierce defender, his client list continued to expand. The veteran attorney even keeps a large shark statue on his desk, which he was gifted by a client, who said Cohen was a large shark in the courtroom. He also increased his own celebrity profile when he appeared as a contestant on then-future President Donald Trump’s popular reality show The Apprentice in 2004.

Cohen’s relationship with Trump sustained despite the lawyer losing on the show. In January of 2021, during Trump’s presidency, Cohen helped get client Lil Wayne a presidential pardon for his federal gun charge, as well as successfully petitioning then-President Trump to commutate the remainder of Kodak Black’s federal sentence for a firearm-related charge. In the last year, Cohen has been victorious in having cases dismissed for Rod Wave, Polo G and HotBoii, and convinced a judge to block Drake from being deposed in the XXXTentacion murder trial. “Saving the hip-hop community one entertainer at a time,” Cohen noted last August on his popular, growing Instagram account, where he regularly offers commentary on newsworthy legal cases.

On a March afternoon, Cohen spoke to XXL from his busy Fort Lauderdale, Fla. law office about what it’s like representing some of the game’s biggest names, his take on recent rap-related legal cases, his bond with Kodak Black and more.

XXL: What type of law do you specialize in?

Bradford Cohen: My office does a variety of things: commercial litigation, personal injury and criminal defense. I do all the criminal defense work.

Vanilla Ice was your first time representing a rapper?

We were representing him on some civil matters. His kangaroo once escaped. We had to deal with the city on a wild kangaroo that we got under control. The best part about representing individuals that you often see or grew up with, like DMX or any of these other people, you get to learn a little bit more about them that’s not in the newspapers, that’s not well-known.

When it came to DMX, I thought he was one of the most interesting guys around. Obviously, he had his demons. When you get the opportunity to represent those individuals and find out more about them, it’s more than just what newspapers report on, what gossip pages report on. Some of these guys have super interesting backgrounds and things that you might not know about that makes them the person that they are, which is probably the best benefit that I feel like meeting those individuals.

What are the biggest struggles you’ve had to face with your rapper clients?

Sometimes it’s a difficult uphill battle because of the outside influences who are around a lot of artists. I [also] think it’s difficult because as part of your craft, I’m a firm believer there is some sort of trauma in your past that you call on to make your craft better.

I believe that they all have some weight of the world on their shoulders from the past that makes them as good as they are.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you give your clients, especially your A-list clients who are often under the magnifying glass?

I always tell people try to surround yourself with individuals who want to see you succeed and want to help you succeed. And in doing so, bring something to the table. They’re just not eating dinner for free. And I say this to my D-list clients. I say this to everybody.

What do your rapper clients deal with the most that you believe is unfair? Is there something that you often see those clients have to deal with?

I think most individuals that I represent have to deal with people assuming that they know them. Or assuming that they know what happened. And, I think the way the justice system deals with people that have some notoriety... I often find I don’t get breaks when it’s someone who I’m dealing with who has notoriety. It’s usually the other way around. And this is not me playing the violin for guys who have millions in the bank. I always say, no matter who you are, rich, not rich, famous, not famous, the justice system should treat people fairly.

Was there a rapper-related case that you thought the verdict was unfair?

I’ve usually done pretty well for my clients. So, I’ve never had a case where, OK, this guy got convicted after a trial and this is what he got. Because I’ve won. I’m trying to be humble. I haven’t had that situation where I’ve had to worry about, oh, OK, this guy got more than he deserved because I was able to work the cases to a point where they didn’t get that. They weren’t looking at that kind of time.

Can you explain how you got Lil Wayne pardoned and Kodak Black’s sentence commuted?

We went through the normal channels. What happens is you put in the paperwork. And their paperwork was pretty significant. On Kodak’s behalf, he did a significant amount of charity work prior to this case even coming about. Even while he was in, he was still funding scholarship funds. He was paying for fallen officers’ kids to go to college. Essentially, it was a crime of checking off the wrong box on a federal form. That went into his commutation as well. Because that crime is charged like two percent of the time.

Wayne’s case was such an unusual case. The feds went on his private plane. They found what was essentially a commemorative firearm. It was like a gold-plated firearm. And they ended up charging him federally. So, I think that that weighed significantly as well. The circumstance surrounding why he was charged and how he was charged I think weighed very heavily in the decision to give him a pardon. I think that’s definitely a highlight of my career.

What was Lil Wayne and Kodak Black’s response when you told them, “Yo, I got you pardoned by the President”?

Wayne was very cool. They were both very excited. I’ll always love people that appreciate the hard work. Both Wayne and Kodak really appreciate the hard work. Kodak’s situation was really funny because literally the day he got commuted, I had to go to Chicago to pick him up. He was transported to a local jail, which was like something out of Dukes of Hazzard. Kodak was very appreciative.

I’m always happy to watch him succeed. Because a lot of people don’t realize what he does off the books, anonymously. The donations that he makes. The good that he does and the people’s lives that he changes. There’s no such thing as everybody is 100 percent good and 100 percent bad. I try to compare it to Batman and Bruce Wayne. Batman can’t be Batman 100 percent of the time. And Bruce Wayne can’t be Bruce Wayne 100 percent of the time. There has to be a happy medium.

bradford cohen photo
Susan Stocker for XXL

How much does it cost to retain your services?

It just it depends on the case. It depends on my relationship with the individual. Some people keep me on a monthly retainer. Some people want a case-by-case basis. I always tell people: you should price your time at what you think it’s worth to you. My time is worth a lot to me.

Do you watch other lawyers? Like rappers watch other rappers. Basketball players watch other basketball players.

I always thought that that was one of the best learning tools for me was to watch other attorneys in action. I’m an aggressive cross-examiner. The lawyers that I watched growing up, they were all like that. They were all Mike Tyson. I’m not a Mayweather. I think Mayweather is a great boxer, but there’s something about Mike Tyson walking into a ring with a towel over his head and knocking people out in 30 seconds. That’s my style.

You were involved in getting the Drake subpoena quashed in the recent XXXTentacion murder case. How difficult was that?

It seemed like they really tried to make that a big situation. It was a very popular topic. My belief is it shouldn’t have been brought up in the first place. I’m a criminal defense attorney, so, I understand the struggle there. I understand what they were trying to do. I don’t think it was the smartest defense. I think the judge made the right decision.

You also helped Polo G get his two different gun cases dismissed.

Yeah, I helped with two cases. The gun charge in California was based on a very strange stop. And then a very strange search. The case law was not there. The police officers, the way they wrote the probable cause affidavit was markedly different than what was on their body-worn camera. Often cases that get dismissed are based on the attorney working to get additional information that the state attorney might not have had at the time they filed the case. That’s kind of our responsibility.

It’s a pretty tedious undertaking to get those cases dismissed because you have to employ a good private detective and investigator. You got your case law research that you want to find cases that are similar. It’s all those things that come together that get a case dismissed. It really is a benefit of your hard work.

You’ve been a lot more vocal on your Instagram account recently. Why is that?

I get a lot of DMs from people all over the country. And they ask me, “Hey, I got this case. What do you think about this case?” So, sometimes I’ll find a case that’s similar to their case and I say, “This is what I think about this case.” Or something’s unfair. Or something piques my interest. Sentencings that are exorbitant. The criminal justice system needs an overhaul. And I guess now with social media, the little guy—I consider myself a little guy— the little guy has a voice.

You recently spoke on your Instagram about the allegations of Gunna snitching on his crew YSL. A lot of people online are accusing him of being a snitch.

Everyone has an opinion on that one.

Why did you feel the need to share your thoughts on that particular situation?

I guess I look at it different than everyone else. [Gunna is] essentially saying things [the District Attorney] already knows. And the only reason [he is] saying that is so the defense can’t use [him] as a witness. The state isn’t going to call him as a witness. By him answering those questions, she’s taking a soldier off the playing field. She’s not using it to further a case against anyone else that’s involved in the case. That’s the way that I look at it. Is it technically “snitching”? By the book, maybe. In my opinion, if you look at the circumstance of what the net result is of that, the net result is zero. But I understand people that are diehards.

You also spoke on your Instagram about the GloRilla situation where a drink was thrown at her for not performing. What are your thoughts on that?

In GloRilla’s situation, and I don’t know if this is really the situation that happened, but often, you will see they’ll book you for a walkthrough, and then they start advertising it as you’re going to do an actual performance. All of a sudden, you are asked to do more than you are contracted for. Walkthroughs are different prices than performances. I think that that was some good advice for future performers that I was imparting to get things done in writing.

In your Instagram bio you have: “Lawyer to unfamous, infamous and famous.” Is that your tag line?

It’s not my tag line. Some people think that I only represent people that have some notoriety, and I don’t. There’s sometimes I’ll take a case where the individual probably can’t afford what I would normally charge. I’ll volunteer my services a lot of times. I think that’s part of the responsibility of being an attorney.

bradford cohen photo
Susan Stocker for XXL

Check out additional interviews in XXL magazine's spring 2023 issue, including the cover story with Lil Durk, conversations with Coi LerayKey Glock, Joyner Lucas, FridayyLuh TylerLola Brooke, Destroy LonelyBlxstCurren$yFinesse2tymesVic MensaToosii, DJ Drama and actor Tyler Lepley, plus veteran photographer Johnny Nuñez tells the behind-the-scenes stories of 10 of his iconic hip-hop photos, six rappers from six different eras—Melle MelMC ShanRZALupe FiascoB.o.B and Cordae—discuss the change in hip-hop over 50 years and a deep dive into the city of Memphis becoming a breeding ground for new rap talent. 

See Photos From Lil Durk's XXL Magazine Spring 2023 Cover Story

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