Russell Simmons

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Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Simmons at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Mansome
Born Russell Wendell Simmons
(1957-10-04) October 4, 1957 (age 58)
Queens, New York, United States
Occupation Co-founder of Def Jam and founder of Phat Farm, All Def Digital, Global Grind, Def Pictures, Argyleculture,Tantris, American Classics
Net worth Increase $340 million (2011)[1]
Spouse(s) Kimora Lee (1998–2006)
Website Rush Communications

Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate. The Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications cofounded the hip-hop music label Def Jam[2] and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and Tantris. Simmons most recently launced All Def Digital, an original content channel on YouTube with over a million subscribers. Simmons has been described as the third richest figure in hip hop, having a net-worth estimate of $340 million in 2011.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Simmons was born and raised in Queens, New York.[3] His father is a public school administrator and his mother is a New York City park administrator. His brothers are painter Daniel Simmons, Jr., and Rev Run of Run-DMC.

In 1975, after graduating from August Martin High School, Simmons briefly attended the City College of New York in Harlem where he met a young DJ/Bboy, Kurt Walker who would influence him to join in on this new phenomenon called Hip Hop.[4][5][6][7][8]

In 2014, Claremont Lincoln University awarded Russell Simmons an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters for his work as chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and for promoting mindfulness, compassion and interreligious collaboration in the public sphere.[9]


Russell Simmons

Simmons co-founded Def Jam in 1983 with Rick Rubin who sold his share of the company for $120 million to Universal Music Group in 1996. In 1985 Russell Simmons co-produced and appeared in the film, Krush Groove.[10] Simmons' company, Rush Communications Inc. includes over ten businesses and three non-profits. Simmons has also produced television hits HBO's Def Comedy Jam, Def Poetry Jam and currently has a development deal with HBO [2][11] In 1996, Simmons co-produced the hit film The Nutty Professor, starring Eddie Murphy.[12][citation needed]


Simmons has authored several books that reflect his experiences in the entertainment business and his personal beliefs. With the last four releases making the NY Times Best Sellers list.

  • "Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God", published September 24, 2002
  • "Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway … and More", published March 29, 2005
  • "Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success", published April 10, 2008.
  • "Super Rich: Inside and Out", published November 1, 2011
  • "Success Through Stillness", published March 11, 2014


Health and Wellness

  • Tantris Yoga Center and Apparel
  • Celsius


  • All Def Digital
  • Def Pictures
  • Narrative
  • Global Grind
  • Rush Books
  • Def Jam Enterprises


  • ArgyleCulture
  • American Classics Eyewear


  • RushCard
    • RushCard is a pre-paid debit card marketed by Simmons. In October 2015, hundreds of thousands of Rushcard customers were unable to access their funds for weeks.[13]
  • Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation
  • Diamond Empowerment Fund
  • Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

Personal life[edit]


Simmons met model Kimora Lee in November 1992. They dated for four years and married on December 20, 1998.[14] on the island of Saint Barthélemy. They have two daughters, Ming Lee (born 2000) and Aoki Lee (born 2002). In March 2006, Simmons announced his divorce from Lee.[15]


Russell Simmons has been vegan since 1999 and advocates Ahimsa and veganism, citing animal rights along with the environmental and health benefits.[2][3][16] Simmons is a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, an organization working to end cruelty to farm animals.[17] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals awarded him with the 2001 PETA Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Person of the Year Award.[18][19]

In 2004, Simmons organized thousands of protestors and Hip-Hop celebrities in front of city hall demanding change of the harsh sentincing of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Simmons became Chairman of Board of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in 2002.[20] In May 2009, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Slavery Memorial at the United Nations to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.[21] In a similar vein, Simmons is a supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation,[22] and was honored at their 2011 gala dinner.[23] Simmons officially endorses the second Muslim Jewish Conference 2011. Together with Rabbi Marc Schneier he served as the official patron of the conference held July 2011 in Kiev, Ukraine. In 2011, he took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests, visiting the protestors at Zuccotti Park often and for many consecutive days.

Simmons is also a long-time supporter for gay rights. He encourages marriage equality.[24] In 2011, when Lowe's withdrew funding from the show All-American Muslim, Simmons promised to pay the Learning Channel for any revenue lost.[25]

In 2012, Simmons supported Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich's re-election campaign, appearing with the politician at various speaking events. "We can’t afford to lose Dennis, because he is the voice of Main Street Americans and progressive politics," Simmons said in a statement.[26] In November 2013, he pledged support for New York's mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in recognition of his support for animal rights.[27]


Simmons describes himself as a Christian yogi, with a love and respect for all religions. Simmons practices a method of Yoga known as Jivamukti Yoga,[28] which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism.

Simmons is also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which was established to ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice TM can do so.[29][30]



  1. ^ a b Padgett, Tania (April 26, 2011). "Russell Simmons: Getting rich is so simple". CNN. 
  2. ^ a b c Aquino, Joann Natalia (February 20, 2011), "Russell Simmons, 'godfather of hip hop,' comes to Seattle: Part of 20-city author tour", Seattle P-I, retrieved February 3, 2012 
  3. ^ a b Kugel, Allison (January 3, 2011). "Russell Simmons Talks to - "My Religion is Compassion"". Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  4. ^ "Russell Simmons: Athletes leading our cultural awakening", Washington Blade, August 29, 2013.
  5. ^ Carrie Golus, Russell Simmons: From Def Jam to Super Rich, USA Today, 2012.
  6. ^ Fetterman, Mindy (May 23, 2007). "Today's Entrepreneur: Russell Simmons can't slow down". USA Today. 
  7. ^ "Executive Profile: Russell Simmons", Bloomberg Businessweek.
  8. ^ Rachel Kranz, "Simmons, Russell", in African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, Facts On File, 2004, p. 252.
  9. ^ Wes Woods, "Russell Simmons keynote speaker for Claremont Lincoln University", Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, May 18, 2014.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Russell Simmons; Nelson George (2001). Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, and God. Random House. ISBN 0609606077. 
  13. ^ As RushCard Problems Linger, Federal Consumer Protection Group Steps In, NPR, October 23, 2015
  14. ^ Russell, Kimora Lee Simmons Split, 31 March 2006
  15. ^ "Simmonses, LeBlancs split". Oakland Tribune. April 1, 2006. p. 1. 
  16. ^ "Russell Simmons on his vegan diet, Obama and yoga" at Youtube.
  17. ^ "Thanksgiving getting a remake courtesy of Russell Simmons". USA Today. November 13, 2009. 
  18. ^ Cookie Lommell, Russell Simmons Infobase Publishing 2007.
  19. ^ Calvin Stovall, "Russell Simmons Honored by PETA", BET, 19 December 2011.
  20. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (April 13, 2008). "Backstage With Six Rabbis, Six Imams and No ‘Kumbaya’". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Secretary-General pledges to fill gap in knowledge about causes, effects of transatlantic slave trade". United Nations.
  22. ^ "Russell Simmons Got A Joyful Hamptons' Social Life, Hosts Somaly Mam Foundation Benefit". Global Grind. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  23. ^ "2011 East Coast Gala". Somaly Mam Foundation. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  24. ^ "Russell Simmons, gay marriage and Maryland". The Washington Post. 
  25. ^ Samuel G. Freedman (2011-12-16). "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims". The New York Times. 
  26. ^ "Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons to appear with Kucinich". Toledo Blade. 
  27. ^ "proud to support @deBlasioNYC to be NYC's next mayor as I know he supports animal rights and will stop abuse of the horses in Central Park", Monday, November 1, 2013.
  28. ^ A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon MindBodyGreen, January 10, 2011.
  29. ^ Russel Simmons: "Why I meditate." Huffington Post, February 24, 2010.
  30. ^ Press Conference David Lynch Foundation
  31. ^ PR for Rush Communications

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]