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Russell Simmons
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USA Today recently named Russell Simmons one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years,” calling him a “hip-hop pioneer” for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, finance, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy.

Russell Simmons has been instrumental in bringing the powerful influence of hip-hop culture to every facet of business and media since its inception in the late 1970s. From producing and/or managing such early hip-hop artists as Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Whodini and the Beastie Boys to signing seminal luminaries like Jay Z, Foxy Brown and Ludacris, Simmons’ groundbreaking vision was crystallized with partner Rick Rubin in the creation of the seminal Def Jam Recordings in 1984, launching the cultural revolution known as hip-hop. Russell Simmons has been the master architect of that phenomenon, envisioning and creating the trends in popular culture. His fashion empire Phat Farm, which begat Baby Phat and Run Athletics, put the definitive stake in the ground for hip-hop clothing and others followed.

His film and television production company with partner Stan Lathan – Simmons Lathan Media – created the wildly successful HBO’s “The Def Comedy Jam,” “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry,” “The Nutty Professor,” the Tony Award-winning stage production “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway” and the international hit on MTV, “Run’s House.” Simmons has put his imprint on the financial services industry, as well, leveling the playing field for all to have access to the American Dream with the Unirush Company’s RushCard. In 2006, Simmons broke new ground yet again, becoming the first African American to launch a major jewelry company – Simmons Jewelry Co. (SJC) – with partner and SJC president, Scott Rauch. Major retail chains followed, carrying the company’s collections, now distributed to over 2000 stores.

This past Spring, Russell released a new book entitled Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, which combines effective business practices with a spiritual foundation to be the best you can be. The book was a top 4 New York Times Best Seller, and was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. And, with Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer, Russell co-funded the Simmons’ founded unique, personalized internet portal for the hip-hop community - Global Grind - with the purpose of connecting young people around the world, a generation that Simmons has strongly encouraged, nurtured and supported, and one that has proven to be more giving, loving and compassionate than the generation before them. Simmons’ newest ventures are two hot clothing collections - Argyle Culture and Atman.

Russell Simmons’ interests extend far beyond the business world, and he spends a great deal of his time and considerable energy working for social, political, and philanthropic causes, pushing hip-hop on to new plateaus of power and relevance. Russell and his ventures are driven by a personal and corporate belief that hip-hop is an enormously influential agent for social change, which could be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and ignorance. In 1995 he, along with his brothers Danny and Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run of Run DMC), founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The organization is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as offering exhibition opportunities to underrepresented artists and artists of color.

He is also Chairman of Rush Community Affairs and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, dedicated to bringing all religions and ethnicities together. The organization’s president is Rabbi Marc Schneier, also head of the World Jewish Congress. Following the historic Hip-Hop Summit Russell organized in June of 2001, he co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) with civil rights activist Dr. Benjamin Chavis. HSAN’s mission is to harness the cultural relevance of hip-hop music as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the well being of at-risk youth throughout the United States. HSAN enables artists to use their celebrity to give back to the community. Among HSAN’s major initiatives is helping to spearhead the first changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws since 1973, orchestrating getting $300 million added back into the New York City education budget, Hip-Hop Team Vote - a 50-city grassroots force that worked throughout 2004 to register and mobilize young voters across the country, as well as three successful years of the “Get Your Money Right” Financial Empowerment International Summits. HSAN has traveled the country and the world implementing over 60 Hip-Hop Summits empowering young people around the issues of education, financial literacy and voting.

In 2006, after a trip to Africa to see how some diamonds were positively affecting the lives of Africans where they are a natural resource, he created The Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) to help Africans help Africa and sensitize the diamond industry to the plight of the Africans. Simmons Jewelry Co. has created a special collection of jewelry – The Green Initiative – which is giving back to Africa through D.E.F. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Petra Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund, which gives aid to children throughout the world who are victims of natural disasters.

Russell Simmons is a native New Yorker who attended City College of New York.

Russell and Kimora Lee have two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.

Entries by Russell Simmons

Never Once Have I Imagined My Daughters Ever Going To Prison

(275) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 10:42 AM

Never once have I imagined either of my daughters ever going to prison. Never have I had the image in my head of my children getting finger-printed, photographed and processed by police officers at the local precinct. Never have I imagined Aoki or Ming in an orange jumpsuit walking through...

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The Ferguson Solution

(100) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 9:45 PM

I saw images of Ferguson last night carried across televisions, newspapers and the Internet, and it broke my heart. This all began when an unarmed, black teenager was gunned down by a police officer in broad daylight. Although we do not know all of the details, we have been at...

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For My Daughter and Other African-American Kids

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 11:00 AM

My 11-year-old daughter, Aoki Lee, is headed for the 8th grade already and has been asking Kimora and I for months if she could attend a boarding school in Switzerland. Her dream is to become an investment banker like her her step-father, who happens to be one of the smartest...

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Finally, a Beautiful Open Space for a Conversation About Immigrants!

(3) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 5:45 PM

Early in my career, I wasn't always sure what to do with the newfound fame I got from being a record producer and executive. I was so focused on creating great records (and partying too much), and although I cared about social and political issues, I didn't fully understand how...

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Celebrating Our Oprah: The Queen of Consciousness

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 9:45 AM

Lately I've been out promoting my new book, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple. From Dr. Oz to Arsenio Hall to Steve Harvey to Dr. Sanjay Gupta to Queen Latifah, tons of other wonderful people have let me sit down with them and talk about the benefits of...

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President Obama, Go Ahead and Dust That Dirt Off Your Shoulders!

(109) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 9:30 AM

I've always believed that the collective prayer of young people can change the world. From the early days of hip-hop to the emergence of the millenials to the power of the Obama presidency, young people have pushed forward a much more progressive agenda than any generation prior. When young people...

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17 Days Left to Change the World!

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 9:58 AM

We knocked on every door we could find to tell our friends and neighbors about a senator from Illinois. We called every one of our family members to ask them to join the campaign. We waited in line until the sun went down and wouldn't leave until we cast our...

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The Real Secret To Success: Meditation

(8) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 12:30 PM

Let me ask you a question. How much time have you spent today thinking about either the past or the present? Obsessing over things you can't change or events you won't be able to control? If you're like most of us, probably too much.
 
Which is why...

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Mike Bloomberg Delivered for New York City

(4) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 1:27 PM

New York City has never seen a mayor like Mike Bloomberg; a man who didn't need to raise any money for his campaigns, which in turn meant he didn't owe anyone anything. That just doesn't happen in politics. And not only did he not take any money for his three...

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Governor Cuomo, the Animal Rights Community Is Counting On You!

(4) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 12:03 PM

I am a proud animal rights activist. I have been fighting not just for the rights of people, but for the rights of animals for decades, as I believe that all living beings on our planet should be treated humanely and with love. Before this year is over, we have...

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Barack the Polls! Obama Keep Raising Hell!

(68) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 10:40 AM

Five years ago, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America. He arrived to the White House with great promise, important promises and hope that our nation would join his vision for a new path forward. A vision that was rooted in three core principles...

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Ted Cruz Was Right, for Once

(10) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 10:28 AM

Ted Cruz deserves some credit. It has been easy to criticize his actions of late and his allies in the Tea Party have certainly contributed greatly to the gridlock in Washington, but this time he deserves some credit. As the only United States senator to attend yesterday's memorial service for...

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All the Fake Democrats Please Take a Seat!

(523) Comments | Posted November 21, 2013 | 10:25 AM

I know where Republicans stand. They have voted 47 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so their stance is clear. If you get sick, you're on your own. If you can't pay for your medical expenses, declare bankruptcy. If you have a pre-existing condition, they'll send you a get...

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Whoa New York Times, You Need to Hold Your Horses!

(100) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 12:25 PM

I have been a loyal supporter of Bill de Blasio for a long time. I have known him for years, but when he met with me in the spring of this year about his New York City mayoral campaign, one of the main points of our conversation was about animal...

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VIDEO: Muslims and Jews Vow to Stand Up for Each Other, Build Global Movement of Reconciliation

(7) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 3:54 PM

There is a widely accepted belief that Muslims and Jews are enemies and will always remain so. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

For the past six years The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding has not only challenged this narrative, but has facilitated a...

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Tell the Tea Party to Take a Seat!

(483) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 7:55 AM

For the first time in seventeen years, the United States government has shut down. Hundreds of thousands of families across this nation will be hurt by the inaction of a few politicians who have successfully hijacked their own party. The Tea Party Republicans, led by Senator Ted Cruz, were able...

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Applauding The President's Courageous Choice

(305) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 11:42 AM

In March of 2003, I appeared on Good Morning America to talk about the looming invasion of Iraq. As an anti-war activist, I was adamantly against our country engaging in a military battle with the Saddam Hussein regime, after he offered and allowed international weapons' inspectors into his country to...

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Mr. President, Don't Do It!

(447) Comments | Posted September 4, 2013 | 10:07 AM

In the 1980's, we watched silently as Saddam Hussein killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, the ethnic Kurds, including the gassing of over 5,000 of them in the small town Halabja. In 1994, we painfully watched as the Hutus killed close to a million Tutsis in Rwanda in...

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The Saggy Pants Don't Make the Man, The Prisons Do

(418) Comments | Posted August 12, 2013 | 3:01 PM

I have received so many calls asking me to further respond to Don Lemon after what he said about me this weekend. And I would agree with him that that jail fashion has become the norm, for even people like Justin Bieber, i.e. saggy pants, but saggy pants...

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Don's a Lemon: Before You Go Back on CNN This Weekend, Read This!

(1048) Comments | Posted August 2, 2013 | 8:57 AM

Dear Don,

I got a chance to see what you said over the weekend about black America. At first I thought it was Fox News, but then I remembered you're a CNN dude. I have nothing against Fox News, as Roger Ailes is my man, but the gospel you were...

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