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 60)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater City College of New York
Occupation Co-founder of Def Jam and founder of Phat Farm, All Def Digital, Global Grind, Def Pictures, Argyleculture,Tantris, American Classics
Music Producer
Net worth Increase $340 million (2011)[1]
Spouse(s) Kimora Lee (m. 1998; div. 2009)
Partner(s) Hana Nitsche (2012–2013)
Children 2
Relatives Rev Run (brother)
Daniel Simmons, Jr. (brother)
Website Rush Communications

Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957)[2] is an American entrepreneur, producer and author. The chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, he cofounded the hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings[3] and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and Tantris. Simmons had a net worth estimated at $340 million in 2011.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Simmons was born and raised in Queens, New York,[4] 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 influenced him to participate in the hip-hop phenomenon.[5][6][7][8][9]

Upon hearing Eddie Cheeba perform at Charles' Gallery in Harlem in 1977, Simmons knew that hip hop would be his career.[10] Simmons stated, "Hearing Cheeba in '77 made me feel like I had just witnessed the invention of the wheel."[10]

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.[11]


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.[12] Simmons' company, Rush Communications Inc. includes over ten businesses and three non-profits. Simmons, with his partner Stan Lathan, has also produced television hits HBO's Def Comedy Jam, Def Poetry Jam and currently has a development deal with HBO [3][13] In 1996, Simmons co-produced the hit film The Nutty Professor, starring Eddie Murphy.[14][citation needed] In 2003, Russell Simmons co-founded RushCard, a prepaid debit card provider.[15][16]

Personal life[edit]


Simmons and model wife, Kimora Lee met in November 1992, they married on December 20, 1998.[17] 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.[18]


Russell Simmons has been vegan since 1999 and advocates Ahimsa and veganism, citing animal rights along with the environmental and health benefits.[3][4][19] Simmons is a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, an organization working to end cruelty to farm animals.[20] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals awarded him the 2001 PETA Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Person of the Year Award.[21][22]

In 2009, Simmons organized thousands of protestors and Hip-Hop celebrities in front of city hall demanding change of the harsh sentencing of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.[23]

Simmons became Chairman of Board of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in 2002.[24] 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.[25] In a similar vein, Simmons is a supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation,[26] and was honored at their 2011 gala dinner.[27] 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 protesters at Zuccotti Park often and for many consecutive days.

Simmons is also a longtime supporter for gay rights, he encourages marriage equality.[28] In 2011, when the retail corporation Lowe's withdrew funding from the show All-American Muslim, Simmons promised to pay the Learning Channel for any revenue lost.[29]

In 2012, Simmons supported Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich's re-election campaign, appearing with the politician at various speaking events;[30] in November 2013, he pledged support for New York's mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in recognition of his support for animal rights.[31]

In 2015, Simmons criticized his friend, real-estate developer and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in an open letter after Trump called for Muslim immigrants to be barred from entering the United States.[32]

In 2017, Simmons was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 23 in the list of 200 Most Influential Social-Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists Worldwide.[33][34]


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,[35] which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism.

Simmons is also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM) [36]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.[37][38]

Sexual assault allegations[edit]

In November 2017, Simmons was accused by Keri Claussen Khalighi of sexually assaulting her in 1991, when she was 17 and he was about 33.[39] Simmons and Brett Ratner, who was also accused by Khalighi of watching them without intervening when she asked for his help, both deny that the encounter was non-consensual.[40]

As the allegation was covered in the press, Terry Crews accused Simmons of attempting to influence him to take back sexual assault allegations that Crews had recently brought up against film executive Adam Venit, asking that Crews "give him a pass.. ask that he be reinstated." Crews posted a screenshot of the alleged e-mail he had received from Simmons on his Twitter account.[41]


Simmons has written several books that reflect his experiences in the entertainment business and his personal beliefs.

  • 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
  • The Happy Vegan, published November 4, 2015


  1. ^ a b Padgett, Tania (April 26, 2011). "Russell Simmons: Getting rich is so simple". CNN. 
  2. ^ Huey, Steve. "Russell Simmons Biography". Retrieved February 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ 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 Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved February 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Kugel, Allison (January 3, 2011). "Russell Simmons Talks to - "My Religion is Compassion"". Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  5. ^ "Russell Simmons: Athletes leading our cultural awakening", Washington Blade, August 29, 2013.
  6. ^ Carrie Golus, Russell Simmons: From Def Jam to Super Rich, USA Today, 2012.
  7. ^ Fetterman, Mindy (May 23, 2007). "Today's Entrepreneur: Russell Simmons can't slow down". USA Today. 
  8. ^ "Executive Profile: Russell Simmons", Bloomberg Businessweek.
  9. ^ Rachel Kranz, "Simmons, Russell", in African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, Facts On File, 2004, p. 252.
  10. ^ a b Carrie Golus (1 January 2012). Russell Simmons: From Def Jam to Super Rich. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7613-8157-0. 
  11. ^ Wes Woods, "Russell Simmons keynote speaker for Claremont Lincoln University", Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, May 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "Krush Groove (1985) : Full Cast & Crew". Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  13. ^ Patrick Neate. "Def Jam Records launched by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  14. ^ Simmons, Russell; George, Nelson (2001). Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, and God. Random House. ISBN 0609606077. 
  15. ^ Introduction: About Us. "RushCard Prepaid Visa Card". Retrieved 2017-03-04. 
  16. ^ Fortune Magazine by Michelle Toh. "Russell Simmons' Prepaid Debit Card Is Adding New Security Features". Retrieved 2017-03-04. 
  17. ^ Russell, Kimora Lee Simmons Split, 31 March 2006
  18. ^ "Simmonses, LeBlancs split". Oakland Tribune. April 1, 2006. p. 1. 
  19. ^ "Russell Simmons on his vegan diet, Obama and yoga" at Youtube.
  20. ^ "Thanksgiving getting a remake courtesy of Russell Simmons". USA Today. November 13, 2009. 
  21. ^ Cookie Lommell, Russell Simmons Infobase Publishing 2007.
  22. ^ Calvin Stovall, "Russell Simmons Honored by PETA", BET, 19 December 2011.
  23. ^ AbduSalaam, Ismael. "Russell Simmons Leads NY Protest Against Rockefeller Drug Laws". Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  24. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (April 13, 2008). "Backstage With Six Rabbis, Six Imams and No 'Kumbaya'". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Secretary-General pledges to fill gap in knowledge about causes, effects of transatlantic slave trade". United Nations.
  26. ^ "Russell Simmons Got A Joyful Hamptons' Social Life, Hosts Somaly Mam Foundation Benefit". Global Grind. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  27. ^ "2011 East Coast Gala". Somaly Mam Foundation. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  28. ^ "Russell Simmons, gay marriage and Maryland". The Washington Post. 
  29. ^ Samuel G. Freedman (2011-12-16). "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims". The New York Times. 
  30. ^ "Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons to appear with Kucinich". Toledo Blade. 
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ Haberman, Maggie; Eder, Steve (21 December 2015). "Rise of Donald Trump Divides Black Celebrities He Calls His Friends". New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  33. ^ "Philanthropists & Social Entrepreneurs Top 200: From Elon Musk to Melinda Gates, These Are the Most Influential Do-Gooders in the World". Richtopia. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  34. ^ "200 most influential philanthropists in the world". Naij. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  35. ^ A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon MindBodyGreen, January 10, 2011.
  36. ^
  37. ^ Russel Simmons: "Why I meditate." Huffington Post, February 24, 2010.
  38. ^ [1] Archived July 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  39. ^ "Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner face new allegations of sexual misconduct." LA Times, November 19, 2017.
  40. ^ "Russell Simmons accused of sexual assault alongside Brett Ratner". The Guardian. 20 November 2017. 
  41. ^ [2] LA Times, November 19, 2017.

External links[edit]