Russell Simmons (born October 4, 1957 in Queens, New York), is an
American entrepreneur, the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering
hip-hop label Def Jam, founder of another label, Russell Simmons Music Group,
and creator of the clothing fashion line Phat Farm.
Russell is the younger brother of Daniel Simmons, Jr and he is the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, better known as "Run" of Run-DMC, and son of Daniel Simmons, Sr, a public school administrator and Evelyn Simmons, a new york city park administrator. His brother Daniel Simmons, Jr is an accomplished abstract artist.
Russell has been vegan since 1998, and advocates the adoption of veganism citing animal rights along with the environmental and health benefits.
Since May 2005 he has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.
In January 2009 he was named Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com: The World According To Hip-Hop.
Russell is the third richest figure in hip hop , having a net-worth estimate of $325 million, third to rapper Jay-Z's $347M and Sean Combs's $340M.
Russell attended City College of New York but left his studies to begin promoting local rap music 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, Public Enemy among other acts.
Russell met model Kimora Lee in November 1992 at New York's fashion week. They dated for six years and married on December 20, 1998 on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy. Officiating was Russell's brother, the Reverend Run, now an ordained minister. In March 2006 the couple announced their separation with their divorce finalized in January 2009.
The Russell have two daughters, Ming Lee (born January 21st 2000) and Aoki Lee (born August 16th 2002). They both model for Baby Phat Kids Collection.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Russell joined 22 other top executives in the apparel and home fashions industry to form Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation, Inc. to unify the apparel and home fashions industry to donate new product to help needy individuals and families who fell victim to one of the USA's worst natural disaster. In supporting the new charity, Phat Farm underwrote a t-shirt design contest with 100% of the proceeds going to Fashion Delivers.
In May 2009, Russell was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Permanent Memorial at the United Nations to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Russell is also a supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice the Transcendental Meditation program can do so.
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. Russell 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 and Arthur Ashe shoes.
Recently, Russell 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 otherwise have problems obtaining a credit card account. These prepaid cards include the RushCard and the Baby Phat RushCard.
In July 2006, Simmons, in addition to other members of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, was named a Goodwill Ambassador of CISRI-ISP. According to the press release, Simmons' appointment will help "launch an awareness campaign utilizing hip-hop as a vehicle to address 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, Russell hosted a reception in support of Republican United States Senate candidate from Maryland, Michael Steele. In December 2006, Russell was criticized for claims that he made following a tour organized by De Beers, of Botswana's Jwaneng mine, one of the world's richest diamond mines. This was 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. Simmons' 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". Russell Simmons also is a U.S. board of directors for Upliftment Jamaica an organization started by Gary Foster, Vice President of Rush Communication which seeks to empower impoverished communities throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Russell has since gained attention by calling for the removal of the words 'nigga', 'bitch' and 'ho' from the "clean" radio edited versions of rap songs.
In July 2007, Simmons, frustrated that the Howard Stern Show would not book him as a guest to promote his recent book, vented on the Jay Thomas radio show by calling Howard Stern a nigger and bad mouthing Stern show producer Gary Dell'Abate. When Stern heard this, he called Russell a hypocrite for using the word nigger and immediately booked Russell for the show on July 24, 2007 to talk about this. The two are now friends.
In 2007, it's rumored that Russell met in Detroit with filmmaker, producer, entertainment business consultant Dionciel Armstrong to discuss his plans to buy a stake in Armstrong's Rap Files Enterprises, Inc. that produces a monthly newspaper, dvd series, and internet video magazine to produce a "Nigga Free" publication. Dionciel hasn't made a decision to partner with Russell but the two has plans to partner in film, business, and publications in the future.
In March 2007, Gotham Books announced the publication of Simmons' new book Do You! 12 Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness And Success. The book is co-written with Chris Morrow and features an introduction by Donald Trump.
This Russell Simmons Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub