Flashback Friday: Russell Simmons

Flashback Friday: Russell Simmons
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 04, 2010

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Russell Simmons co-founded Def Jam in 1984 with Rick Rubin, the label responsible for such groundbreaking acts as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, EPMD and Slick Rick.

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This 1988 shot shows Russell Simmons off to the right with his then-business partner, Rick Rubin and their crown jewel, Run DMC the first hip-hop act to achieve mainstream attention and acclaim.

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Always the business man, Simmons turned the story of his label into legend by basing the film “Krush Groove” on of the rise of Def Jam. He even had Blair Underwood play the role of him in it. The flick was a hit with young hip-hop fans and went on to be a cult classic.

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As a teen, the Queens native promoted hip-hop block parties and live shows, as well as managing his friend Kurtis Blow. He later went on to create his own talent management company, Rush Productions.

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Simmons ventured into the fashion world and launched Phat Farm in 1992. The popularity of the line spawned the female branch, named Baby Phat, which was run by Kimora Lee.

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Wedding of Alvin Malnik
Caption: Russell Simmons and Veronica Webb (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Date created: 22 Apr 1995
Editorial image #: 83398515

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In the 1990s, Simmons launched the hip-hop magazine “One World” and signed top talent like Redman, Method Man, and DMX.

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Simmons and former model Kimora Lee married in 1999. She still runs the label fabulously.

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In 1999, Simmons sold his remaining shares of Def Jam to Universal Music Group for a reported 100 million dollars, but remained aboard as staying the chairman.

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NARAS Heroes Award 2001
Caption: (l to r) Russell Simmons, Paul Stanley of Kiss, Carole King, and Gene Simmons of Kiss at the 6th annual NARAS Heroes Award 2001 Gala at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. 12/4/01 Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect
Date created: 04 Dec 2001

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Here, Simmons attends the 40th anniversary of NAACP awards with his two daughters, Aoki and Ming, as well as his nieces, Angela and Vanessa.

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Russell Simmons has become very outspoken on his causes. He was an intragal part of raising the youth movement to support Barack Obama for President.

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On Wednesday, Russell Simmons received the Gold Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Music in New York City.

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Russell and Kimora divorced in 2008. She has gone on to remarry, and Russell is living the single life.

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