Russell Simmons (born October 4, 1957 in Queens, NY), is an African American entrepreneur, the co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam Recordings and creator of the diverse corporation, Rush Communications.

Russell Simmons growing up

Simmons attended City College of New York but left his studies to begin promoting local rap acts, including Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC and producing records. In 1984, he met Rick Rubin and they founded Def Jam Records, signing the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Jay-Z, Ludacris and other acts. Simmons sold his stake in the record company for over $100 million to Universal Music Group in 1999.

Simmons creation of Rush Communications

Def Jam became just one piece of Simmons’ corporation, Rush Communications, which included a management company, clothing label’s such as Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Argyleculture and American Classics collectively titled, Phat Fashions. In addition, Simmons created Simmons Lathan Media Group, television shows such as “Def Comedy Jam” and “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.” Simmons brought Def Poetry Jam to Broadway as a live show, earning a Tony award for the youthful and multicultural cast.

Russell Simmons prepaid debit cards

Simmons, in partnership with a financial institution, has launched ‘UniRush‘ and released a line of re-loadable Visa debit cards called RushCard and Baby Phat RushCard aimed at consumers who would otherwise find it difficult to obtain credit or gain access to a debit card account. You can follow them on Twitter.com/Unirush.

Simmons investments in sportswear and jewelry

The newest addition to Rush Communications is sportswear company Run Athletics, led by Simmons’ brother, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons of the popular MTV series ‘Runs House’.

Russell Simmons also created a fine jewelry line and is involved in ventures in video gaming and mobile communications. However, Simmons interests extend beyond the business world. Simmons has been vegan since 1998, and advocates the adoption of veganism, citing animal rights along with environmental and health benefits. Might he be adopting hedonism as well?

Along with his brother Daniel Simmons, he founded the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation in 1995 to provide disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts. In conjunction with this mission, Simmons offers exhibition opportunities to underrepresented artists. Russell Simmons is a memeber of the U.S. board of directors for Upliftment Jamaica. An organization started by Gary Foster Vice President of Rush Communication which seeks to empower impoverished communities throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.

In January 2009 Simmons was named Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com, an on-line magazine dedicated to ‘The World According To Hip-Hop’.

As the forth richest figure in hip hop, and having a net-worth estimate of $340 million, Russell Simmons is truly one of BlackEnterprise’s favourite entrepreneurs.

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