Russel Wendell Simmons was born on October 4, 1957. The rise of hip-hop music has been greatly aided by Russell Simmons. He is a co-founder of the musical company Def Jam, which helped propel Jay Z, Ludacris, Foxy Brown, and many other prominent musicians to fame. He has been a key character in the hip-hop music scene and devotedly popularized underrepresented voices. He spent his adolescent years growing up in the streets of New York City, and while he was still a student, he started promoting several hip-hop artists.
Russell Wendell Simmons
October 4, 1957
In a relationship
Simmons was born on October 4, 1957, in New York City, the U.S. His mother Evelyn Simmons was a park superintendent, while his father Daniel Simmons Sr. was a public school administrator. His brothers are artists Joseph Simmons and Daniel Simmons Jr. His astrological sign is Libra. His parents strongly supported both the arts and the civil rights movement. When Simmons was eight years old, his family moved to the Queens neighborhood of Hollis. There, the teenage Simmons became involved in drugs and joined the Seven Immortals street gang. A few years later, one of his fellow gang members was assassinated by a rival organization, therefore ending his time as a gang member. He briefly attended City College of New York in 1975 before dropping out and going on to promote local musicians such as Kurtis Blow.
Simmons’ career has taken him from the Queens’ slums to the pinnacle of the music industry and beyond. His mother financially helped him launch a music-producing company. Simmons began as a young hip-hop producer and has since expanded his business to encompass music production and publishing, clothes, film, and Broadway, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Simmons, his younger brother Joey, and two pals, Darryl McDaniel and Jason Mizell, created Run-D.M.C., which would go on to become one of the most important rap groups in history. Their image, paired with their words and beat, helped them become M.T.V’s first rap act.
Rick Rubin, a New York University student who loved punk rock music and was greatly influenced by hip-hop culture, was introduced to Simmons in 1984. The two collaborated to create Def Jam Productions to introduce hip-hop artists to new audiences around the nation. While still remaining true to his cherished hip-hop beginnings, Simmons has continued to reinvent himself and go into other industries throughout his career.
Simmons along with Rick Rubin starts his record company Def Jam Productions, which publishes hip-hop tracks from various musicians.
Simmons’ production company Def Jam releases the hip-hop track ‘I Need a Beat’ by American rapper L.L. Cool J.
The feature film “Krush Groove,” which is centered on the early years of his record company is produced by Simmons.
Simmons launches his book titled “Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All,” which was written as a manual for achieving great success in life.
Why We Love Russell Simmons
He made hip-hop more diverse
Simmons tried to define hip-hop culture as a youth culture instead of a race-based one. He got his rappers to record a song with iconic white rock band Aerosmith and even signed on a white rapper group, the Beastie Boys.
He was a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador
Simmons played a huge role in highlighting black American pop culture in the U.S. and has been part of many humanitarian activities. He was appointed the U.N. Slavery Memorial's Goodwill Ambassador by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009.
He is a spiritual person
Simmons often seeks solace from Dharmic philosophy. He has tweeted about his support for principles like Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), and Aparigraha (non-attachment).
5 Surprising Facts
He started a streetwear brand
Simmons had launched a men’s apparel line named Phat Farm, which mixed hip-hop style with a preppy vibe.
He promotes spoken word poetry
Simmons had presented “Def Poetry,” an H.B.O. television series that features well-known poets in America.
He is a successful film producer
He produced “The Nutty Professor,” the Eddie Murphy-starring comedy movie that became a smash hit and earned good critical reviews.
He even tried his hand at comedy
Simmons developed the ground-breaking, immensely successful stand-up comedy series “Def Comedy Jam,” which ran from 1992 to 1997.
He is a vegan
Simmons cut all animal products from his diet and adopted veganism in 1997.
Russell Simmons FAQs
How much is Russell Simmons worth?
Simmons owns assets worth around $340 million.
Does Russell Simmons still own Def Jam?
Simmons sold an interest in Def Jam to Universal for $100 million.
Is Russell Simmons an animal rights activist?
Simmons was named the 2011 Person of the Year by PETA.
Russell Simmons’s birthday dates