Russell Simmons began promoting New York City musicians in his early 20s. He partnered with Rick Rubin to create Def Jam Records, and signed artists like the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. He later sold his stake in Def Jam to Universal Music Group for $100 million. In addition to his music career, Simmons helped found the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, the Rush Philanthropic Organization and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
Russell Wendell Simmons was born in Queens, New York, on October 4, 1957. After a brief stint at City College of New York, Simmons left school to promote local musicians, including Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C. In 1984, he and partner Rick Rubin founded Def Jam Recordings, creating the foundation for the cultural revolution known as hip hop. Def Jam signed the forerunners of the hip hop movement, including the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C.
An ambitious entrepreneur, Russell Simmons saw Def Jam as just part of his hip hop empire. His Rush Communications firm also included Phat Farm clothing company, television shows, a management company, a magazine and an advertising agency. His movie production house has produced such films as Krush Groove and The Nutty Professor. In 1999, he sold his stake in Def Jam Records to Universal Music Group for $100 million. In 2004, he sold Phat Farm for $140 million.
A strict vegan and yoga enthusiast, Simmons is also an active philanthropist. He helped found the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, the Rush Philanthropic Organization and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. He actively supports PETA and was named a Goodwill Ambassador to fight war, poverty and HIV/AIDS. He is the author of Do You! 12 Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness And Success. (Biography.com)
To learn more about Russell Simmon's work visit his twitter: twitter.com/UncleRush