Russell Simmons (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Russell Simmons (born October 31 1957 in Queens, NY), is an African American entrepreneur, the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, and founder of another label, Russell Simmons Music Group.
Simmons is the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, better known as "Run" of Run-DMC, and son of Daniel Simmons, a public school administrator.
He married model Kimora Lee Simmons on 20 December 1998. Simmons filed for divorce in March 2006, saying the couple had split some time before. The Simmons have two daughters -- Ming Lee Simmons (21 January 2000) and Aoki Lee Simmons (16 August 2002) -- who both model for Baby Phat Kids Collection.
Simmons attended City College of New York but left his studies to begin promoting local rap acts, including Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC (whom he would later sign to his record label), and producing records. In 1984, he met Rick Rubin and they founded Def Jam Records, signing the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and other acts.
Def Jam became just one piece in Simmons' corporation, Rush Communications, which included a management company, a clothing company called Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as Def Comedy Jam, a magazine, and an advertising agency. Simmons sold his stake in the record company for $100 million to Universal Music Group in 1999. The up and coming component of Rush Communications is the sneaker company Run Athletics, a company that produces the Legacy shoes and the Arthur Ashe shoes.
Recently, Simmons brought his show Def Poetry to Broadway as a live show, earning awards for the youthful and multicultural cast. Simmons, in partnership with a financial institution, released a line of re-loadable Visa debit cards aimed at consumers who would other wise have problems obtaining a checking/debit account. The name of this card is The Rush Card.
Simmons has consistently made significant contributions to the contemporary civil rights movement and other social justice efforts. His influence aided get out the vote efforts in the 2004 US presidential election. Simmons, a vegan, has also spoken out against cruelty in factory farms and slaughterhouses, and has participated in PETA's campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken. While he speaks out against cruelty to animals, he does market a line of leather goods.
Since May 2005 he's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.
Currently, Simmons is working on a project to fight anti-semitism. Some of the people on this project include Beyonce, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Will Smith.
In July 2006, Simmons, in addition to other members of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, was named a Goodwill Ambassador of CISRI-ISP, so-called permanent observer mission to the United Nations. According to the press release, Simmons's appointment will help "launch an awareness campaign utilizing hip-hop as a vehicle to address the problems of war, poverty and HIV/AIDS, in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals as well as the CISRI-ISP fight against severe poverty and malnutrition On August 24, 2006, Simmons hosted a reception in support of Republican United States Senate candidate from Maryland, Michael Steele.
In December 2006, Simmons was criticized for visiting Botswana's Jwaneng mine, one of the world's richest diamond mines, as part of a nine-day, three-country trip through Africa. Some expressed concern that this was part of a larger public relations effort organized by De Beers to counter expected controversies following the release of the movie Blood Diamond. Simmon's response was that he felt too much focus has been put on "conflict diamonds" and that his job was "to take what's good and make it better".