Russell Simmons: The Power of One
If you know hip-hop, then you know Russell Simmons, the Godfather of the whole movement. Often referred to as a mogul the self-built multi-millionaire took a dollar and a dream and thus an empire was built, artist by artist. Simmons has established himself as one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, individuals in the entertainment industry and not just music.
The arrogance of white men is why Im here today. If it werent for them, I wouldnt be here. What the hell did they need me for if they were open-minded enough to allow this cultural phenomena to be part of their make-up. My independence is because they didnt accept me. So every step of the way Ive made more money.
Although corporate America wasnt initially interested in the hip-hop phenomenon when it first hit the scene, oddly enough young white America couldnt get enough. As a matter of fact, 80% of the buying public is currently young white youth. The dismissal of corporate America did not deter Simmons the least bit. He pursed his goals of bringing an untapped gold mine, hip-hop, to the open fields of America.
However, Simmons financial investments run much deeper than music. Companies such as, Rush Management, Phat Farm, Run Athletics, and the list goes on secure an endless well of wealth for this man who at one point in time studied Sociology at the Harlem branch of City College in New York. "All of the businesses that I've gotten in," he jokes, "I got in because I didn't know I couldn't." Mr. Simmons prides himself on being the connection between hip-hop and the streets.
In Black America, your neighbor is much more likely to be someone like L.L. Cool J or Oran Juice Jones than Bill CosbyA lot of the black stars being developed by record companies have images that are so untouchable that kids just dont relate to them. Our acts are people with strong, colorful images that urban kids already know, because they live next door to them.
Russell Simmons is best known for co-founding the strongest hip-hop label in existence, Def Jam. Artist by artist the the empire grew; it all started with the first rap group to appear on MTV, Run DMC. They stepped on the scene with a look that related to the streets, leather and gold chains. As Run DMC bursts through concert doors rocking their Adidas, they scored major crossover success with their hit, Walk this Way featuring heavy-metal band Aerosmith. This was an unthinkable duet considering the times.
But as Rushs COO, Craig Marshall states, Russell favorite saying goes, What else? I want to contribute more to earth than I take away from it. Theres so much more to Mr. Simmons than meets the eye. Everything from being a vegan to supporting PETA campaigns, theres so much to know about Russell Simmons and too much to learn in one afternoon or even a year. Being a man that is inspired by, the relationship with God drives him to an even deeper state of power.
The closer I get to the divine spirit inside of me the more I feel powerful. [To move into a state of power requires] A real relationship with God or relationship with your Holy spirit thats inside of you. I mean a peaceful spirit; one that understands the divine instructions.
It is apparent upon meeting Russell Simmons that he is not one to have his time wasted nor one to bite his tongue. He has not climbed his way to the top by displaying any form of cowardice. Mr. Simmons has built his world around an undying culture, hip-hop. Though many doubted its survival hip-hop is a culture that becomes more enriching with each passing day. The ever growing world of hip-hop would not be possible without the contributions and future contributions of Russell Simmons. And for that, we the people of the hip-hop community, thank him.