Russell Simmons

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Russell Wendell Simmons

Birthplace: Hollis, New York, Queens County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Daniel Dwayne "Danny" Simmons, Sr. and Evelyn Simmons
Ex-husband of Kimora Lee Simmons
Partner of Shannon Elizabeth
Father of Private and Private
Brother of Daniel "Danny" Simmons, Jr. and Rev. Run

Occupation: American business magnate
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Russell Simmons

Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate. He co-founded the hip-hop music label Def Jam and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. Simmons has been described as the third richest figure in hip hop, having a net-worth estimate of $340 million in 2011.

From Lemonade Stories 2003

"My life has largely been about promoting the anger, style, aggression, and attitude of urban America to a worldwide audience," Russell Simmons says in his book, Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money + God (Crown Publishing, 2002). "I've created a business that didn't exist a generation ago."

Russell Simmons was raised, along with his older brother, Danny, and younger brother, Joey, in Hollis, Queens, a middle class neighborhood which was beginning to show signs of deterioration. "Our neighborhood was ruined by drugs. My corner in Hollis, on 205th Street, was the drug trading capital of Queens." ...
In 1977, after attending a party at a small club where an MC was shouting out call-and -response rhymes over a break beat, Russell decided to promote parties featuring hip-hop artists. "All the street entrepreneurship I'd learned selling herb, hawking fake cocaine and staying out of jail, I decided to put into promoting music," Russell explains in his book. He started renting out venues, negotiating with acts, and promoting. "I didn't have any talent," Russell says candidly, "so the only way to really be involved was to produce and promote…I loved the music. I was more passionate about the culture and the phenomenon that was developing in the community then I was in the actual business." One of Russell's earliest successful groups was that of his younger brother, Joey Simmons (a/k/a "Run" of the pioneering hip-hop group, Run-DMC). ...

When asked about how his mother, Evelyn Simmons, had an impact on his business success, Russell responds, "My mother was the independent one, and had the spirit that allowed me to be an entrepreneur…when no one else believed, she believed."

Today, Russell Simmons is known as the "Godfather of Hip Hop" and has brought hip-hop music, along with the urban culture it represents, to the American mainstream. Russell, along with partner Rick Rubin, built their record label, Def Jam, into a leading force in the record industry before Russell sold his share of the company to Universal Music for $120 million in 1999. Russell also created and produced Def Comedy Jam, a stand-up comedy series which aired on HBO and, along with his older brother, Danny Simmons, created Def Poetry Jam, a poetry reading series now airing on HBO. Russell is currently in charge of Rush Communications, a conglomerate which houses his various business ventures, including Phat Fashions, which had $263 million in sales in 2002. ...

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Russell Simmons's Timeline

October 4, 1957
Hollis, New York, Queens County, New York, United States