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Russell Simmons' Top Aide Wants Words With Chief Keef

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RUSSELL SIMMONS
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons speaks to the media in New York. | AP

Chief Keef, please report to the advisor's office.

Thursday, the top political advisor to influential hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons said he wants a word with the young rapper. Speaking from a panel at Chicago Ideas Week, Michael Skolnik said he would encourage Keef—whose real name is Keith Cozart—to be a more positive force. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

“I want to listen to him,” said Skolnik. “Russell has always encouraged — and I have as well — any person with celebrity to use it for the positive, because that’s the greatest gift you have, right?”

Keef has been a controversial figure in the rap scene, and nowhere more so than in his hometown. With a murder rate that has surged through the summer, Keef's apparent glorification of guns and violence has come off as a toxic mix of troubling and irresponsible. The 17-year-old ignited another wave of criticism after he apparently mocked the death of rival teen MC Lil Jojo via Twitter.

Keef already has a record: in 2011, he was arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at police. His record and his ill-advised comments, meanwhile, have done little to dent his popularity. Keef signed deal with major label Interscope, and his videos have hits ranking in the 17 millions. On top of that, Keef maintains a deep and loyal fan base among CPS students.

Quoted in the Sun-Times, Skolnik continued:

“Do I like guns? No. I have never picked up a gun in my life. Do I like that Chief Keef has photographs of him with guns? Not necessarily. But he is a reflection of young people’s reality — and that is why young people listen to him.”

Skolnik told the Sun-Times he and Simmons are not interested in the star for any business reasons, as Simmons is now out of the music business.

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