Russell Simmons is one of the biggest promoters of music and highly successful business magnates of our time. He is the co-founder of the ground-breaking hip-hop label ‘Def Jam’. Simmons is the third wealthiest personality in hip hop with net worth of 340 million dollars.
Simmons was born on 4th October 1957 in Queens, New York. He went to City College in New York but soon left to promote local musicians such as Run-D.M.C and Kurtis Blow. He created Def Jams Recordings along with his partner Rick Rubin. This formed the foundation for a cultural revolution that became known as ‘hip hop’. Their recording studio signed the early artists of this music including the Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Beastie Boys.
Simmons was highly ambitious and according to him Def Jam was just the beginning of his much larger hip hop empire. His corporation Rush Communications, Inc. comprises of a clothing company named ‘Phat Farm’, a management company, an advertising company, a magazine, a movie production house and even television shows like ‘Def Comedy Jam’. His movie production company produced movies like ‘The Nutty Professor’ and ‘Krush Grove’. The company became a platform for all of Simmons business ventures. In 1996, his business partner Rubin sold his shares of the company to Universal Music Group for 100 million dollars. Simmons sold the ‘Phat Farm’ for 140 million dollars.
Simmons then created Def Poetry which also became a TV series that aired on HBO. In 2002, Def Poetry was developed into a Broadway live stage production. He also initiated an internet company called ‘360 Hip Hop’ that he sold to BET (Black Entertainment Television). He owns majority of the shares in the website ‘Global Grind’. Simmons is also a very active philanthropist. He is the founder of the ‘Hip Hop Summit Action Network’, the ‘Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’ and the ‘Rush Philanthropist Organization’. He is an avid supporter of PETA and the combat against HIV/AIDS, poverty and war. He was made the Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Slavery Memorial at the UN in 2009. He has also written a book called ‘Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success’. He also supports gay rights and believes that gay marriage should be permitted although he is not a homosexual himself. He has had many relationships among which his relation with Kimora Lee is most prominent. They were together for four years after which they got married in 1998. The marriage ended in a divorce in 2009. They have two children together. Simmons and Lee continue to work together on the ‘Baby Phat’ and ‘Phat Farm’ clothing lines. Simmons started dating a German model Hana Nitsche in 2012.
According to the real estate mogul Donald Trump, Russell Simmons is one of the greatest entrepreneurs out there who is also a fabulous person with an immense understanding of business. Although Simmons has no plans to enter politics, he is considered as a potential mayoral candidate.