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Russell Simmons

For the co-founder of Yelp Inc., see Russel Simmons.
Russell Simmons
File: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, Argyleculture, American Classics
Net worth 11px $340 million (2011)[1]
Spouse(s) Kimora Lee (1998–2006)
Rush Communications

Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957) is an American business magnate. He cofounded the hip-hop music label Def Jam[2] and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. Married to Samantha Simmons of East Providence RI, 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

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]


File:Russell Simmons.jpg
Russell Simmons

In 1985 Russell Simmons co-produced and appeared in the film, Krush Groove.[citation needed]. He is also interviewed in the 1986 cult documentary Big Fun In The Big Town. [10] Simmons' company, Rush Communications, Inc. includes Def Jam, Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as HBO's Def Comedy Jam, a magazine and an advertising agency.[2] Simmons co-founded Def Jam[when?] with Rick Rubin who sold his share of the company for $2 billion to Universal Music Group in 1996. In 2000, he co-founded the Internet start-up 360 Hip Hop, which he later sold to BET.[11] Simmons was the star of the 2010 reality TV show Running Russell Simmons.[citation needed] He is majority shareholder of the website Global Grind.[citation needed]

Personal life


Simmons met then-17-year-old model Kimora Lee in November 1992. They dated for four years and married on December 20, 1998 [12] 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.[13]

Simmons lived with his wife and family in a Saddle River, New Jersey home that covered Script error: No such module "convert"..[14]


Russell Simmons has been vegan since 1999 and advocates Ahimsa and veganism, citing animal rights along with the environmental and health benefits.[2][3][15] Simmons is a supporter of Farm Sanctuary, an organization working to end cruelty to farm animals.[16] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals awarded him with the 2001 PETA Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Person of the Year Award.[17][18]

Simmons became Chairman of Board of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in 2002.[19] 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.[20] In a similar vein, Simmons is a supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation,[21] and was honored at their 2011 gala dinner.[22] 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.[23] In 2011, when Lowe's withdrew funding from the show All-American Muslim, Simmons promised to pay the Learning Channel for any revenue lost.[24]

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.[25] In November 2013, he pledged support for New York's mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in recognition of his support for animal rights.[26]


In January 2011 he stated in an interview that he is not a Buddhist as previously reported,[27] but is a non-religious practitioner of Yoga, where he prays to the Ātman, or the self.[3][28] Simmons practices a method of Yoga known as Jivamukti Yoga,[29] which encourages vegetarianism and social and environmental activism.

Simmons is 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.[30][31]

He has authored several books that reflect his beliefs. They include Do You: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, coauthored with Chris Morrow and published in 2007. In January of 2011, Simmons published the book Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All, which espouses giving as a lifestyle choice.[2][3] And in 2014 he published Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple, which presents his view that meditation can help one achieve success.[32]

Other relationships

Simmons began dating actress Shannon Elizabeth in early 2014.[33]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Padgett, Tania (April 26, 2011). "Russell Simmons: Getting rich is so simple". CNN. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 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. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 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.
  11. Russell Simmons; Nelson George (2001). Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, and God. Random House. ISBN 0609606077. 
  12. Russell, Kimora Lee Simmons Split, 31 March 2006
  13. "Simmonses, LeBlancs split". Oakland Tribune. April 1, 2006. p. 1. 
  14. Reingold, Jennifer. "Rush Hour: Russell Simmons, the godfather of hip-hop, has used street smarts and a platinum Rolodex to create a $300 million conglomerate. Now he's flexing his political muscle. Come inside the frenetic world of a modern entrepreneur", Fast Company, November 2003. Accessed December 17, 2013: "Easygoing, profane, and hilarious, Simmons regularly speaks all over the country to everyone from small-town entrepreneurs to Harvard MBAs, is photographed at every social event, takes an intensive yoga class every single day, and somehow makes it home every night to his palatial 35,000-square-foot spread in Saddle River, New Jersey, to see his two daughters, Ming Lee, 3, and Aoki Lee, 11 months."
  15. "Russell Simmons on his vegan diet, Obama and yoga" at Youtube.
  16. "Thanksgiving getting a remake courtesy of Russell Simmons". USA Today. November 13, 2009. 
  17. Cookie Lommell, Russell Simmons Infobase Publishing 2007.
  18. Calvin Stovall, "Russell Simmons Honored by PETA", BET, 19 December 2011.
  19. Ramirez, Anthony (April 13, 2008). "Backstage With Six Rabbis, Six Imams and No ‘Kumbaya’". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  20. "Secretary-General pledges to fill gap in knowledge about causes, effects of transatlantic slave trade". United Nations.
  21. "Russell Simmons Got A Joyful Hamptons' Social Life, Hosts Somaly Mam Foundation Benefit". Global Grind. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  22. "2011 East Coast Gala". Somaly Mam Foundation. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  23. "Russell Simmons, gay marriage and Maryland". The Washington Post. 
  24. Samuel G. Freedman (2011-12-16). "Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims". The New York Times. 
  25. "Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons to appear with Kucinich". Toledo Blade. 
  26. "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.
  27. Russell Simmons Expounds on the Transition from Materialism to Meditation
  28. Hurt III, Harry (April 22, 2007). "The Russell Simmons Guide to Success Through Spirituality". The New York Times. 
  29. A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon MindBodyGreen, January 10, 2011.
  30. Russel Simmons: "Why I meditate." Huffington Post, February 24, 2010.
  31. Press Conference David Lynch Foundation
  32. Moran, Jessica (March 6, 2014). "Russell Simmons talks meditation and success in new book". Fox News. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  33. "Vegan love! New couple Shannon Elizabeth and Russell Simmons tuck into an animal friendly meal in West Hollywood" "Daily Mail Online"/ February 17, 2014/

Further reading

External links

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