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Russell Simmons

In: Film and Music

Submitted By toni82
Words 682
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Russell “Rush” Simmons began his trip to being hip hop’s main man in the late 1970’s. Through hard work, struggle and determination, he achieved things that a young entrepreneur only dreamed of. By promoting early hall of fame group Run DMC, in which one member of the group is Simmons’ brother Joseph “Run” Simmons. Throughout the years, Russell Simmons has taken Hip Hop to great lengths in our economy and in African American Business.

Russell Simmons was born October 4, 1957 in Queens New York. He was an excellent student through grade school and made his was to CCNY-Harlem to study in sociology. This is where he found his passion for music. In the late 1978, Russell began using his spare time to promote some early hip hop block parties and club shows around Harlem and Queens. Often, he would promote these parties with his friend Curtis Walker, who later adopted the name Kurtis Blow, who is another Hip Hop icon. Russell later became his manager and co-wrote the 1979 single “Christmas Rappin’”. By this time Russell had dropped out of college and pursued artist management as a full-time gig. This is when Rush Productions was born. During this time the country was in over $700 billion dollars in debt and personal bankruptcies were constantly rising, Russell found a way to do what he loved and make an income doing it.

In the beginning of the 1980s, Russell took his younger brother, Joseph Simmon’s, group as his clients and they then became Run-D.M.C. Over the next few years, he helped guide the group on their rise to stardom. During this time, Russell met a young gentleman by the name of Rick Rubin in which they both would be the founders of Def jam record label in 1984. Def jam secured a distribution deal with CBS after some early success with LL Cool J. LL Cool J, recorded Def Jam’s first ever single called, “I Need a Beat” (Vh1, 2007). During a time that was named the “Greed Decade”, where some business owners were making millions of dollars in a single years earnings (pg. 163, McCraw), Def Jam was just starting to make it’s mark in the American Business world.

As technology emerged in the 1980s, Hip Hop saw an intense diversification which developed into a more complex form (wikipedia, 2008). Hip Hop began to make changes in the sounds of beats and producers were able to manipulate beats to allow for different sounds. Musicians found something that they loved to do and had no problem entering this business and becoming the entrepreneur they had dreamed of being. The content of Hip Hop also evolved. Artists began to tell stories with their music. They even became mainstream pop performers. Kurtis Blow appeared in a Sprite commercial which made him the first hip hop artist to be considered mainstream enough to represent a major product. Even though this was good for Kurtis Blow to get the recognition and for the soft drink company to hire him in a commercial, the hip hop community saw Kurtis as a sell out (wikipedia, 2008).

Outside of the United States, hip hop was almost unknown prior to the 1980s. During the 1980s, with the economy at a constant growth, Hip Hop grew outside the United States in to other countries such as, Germany and South Africa. Other cultures began to put their spin on Hip Hop, making the business of creating Hip Hop music an even bigger success.

Founded in 2001, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) is dedicated to harnessing the cultural relevance of Hip-Hop music to serve as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the empowerment of youth. HSAN is a non-profit, non-partisan national coalition of Hip-Hop artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents, and youth leaders united in the belief that Hip-Hop is an enormously influential agent for social change which must be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice.

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