It was a family affair for Def Jam founder Russell Simmons as he hosted his 12th Annual Art For Life Benefit over the weekend at his estate in the Hamptons. Guests included his ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons, brothers Rev Run and Danny Simmons, Angela and Vanessa Simmons to name a few.
Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson serenaded the crowd with her powerful voice while Miri Ben-Ari entertained guests with just her violin. VIP’s such as Taraji P. Henson, L.A. Reid, and Mary J. Blige aided in raising money for the non-profit by bidding on select items.
In a recent interview with Global Grind, Def Jam co-founder and Rush Communications CEO Russell Simmons sat down to talk about the first time he met Rick Rubin and the start of Def Jam:
“Rick Rubin, I seen him at Danceteria. He was a member of the Beastie Boys. He was DJ Double R. I met him at Danceteria because Jazzy Jay brought him to me. Jazzy Jay was on the record ‘It’s Yours’ by T La Rock. It was the best record on the radio. We talked at Danceteria and he played me his drum machine. He had so many beats. We started a record label. The record label put out LL’s first record. The record stores didn’t know what was in the box because it said Def Jam. It was a core community who went to that cool store that bought the cool records, and that record was next after ‘It’s Yours.’ Rick owned and created that label, Def Jam, that was him.”
And something related….
Throwback interview of a young LL Cool J explaining hip hop slang like “word,” “def,” and “stupid.” Funny stuff:
Bow Wow announced earlier this week that he is a proud father to his daughter Shai. In his detailed letter to fans, he also touched on almost committing suicide and pulling himself out of a depression over the past few months. Russell Simmons sat down with Bow Wow today to talk more about that letter and life in general. Highlights below:
On the suicide thoughts:
The suicide thoughts just really came because I think earlier I was exposed to so much Uncle Russ to the point to where I kinda felt like it ruined my adulthood. When I was younger I wish I listened to everybody that was older telline me “don’t do that just yet you should wait” or “don’t go to the club yet you should really wait until your 21 or you got nothing to look forward to.” So that’s what happened, for me being around Jermaine and everybody so young I was around EVERYTHING. So by the time I got 18, I was really 26 (laughs) and I didn’t wanna go to the club no more. When I got 20, I was like “Ok now I’m ready to get married.” Now I feel like I’m 40! So the older I got, the I just noticed my friends…I was like “I can’t really hang with y’all” because they’d go to the club and I’ve done all that when I was 14. So it made me realize like “what am I here for? What am I living to do?” I just got so stressed out because I felt like I did everything too fast and it didn’t leave me with nothing to look forward to. Now that I have my daughter I don’t even have those thoughts no more. Because now it’s like I got something to live for, I got more movies to go get, more records to go make because I gotta go hard for her now. So now I do have a purpose. So it took for me to have a dark period and pray to God that it’s all gone and now it’s a whole other ballgame. I’m just focused and it’s just me coming out being clean about my situation. It’s just a whole new outlook on life! It’s dope!
On his fan’s reaction to the letter:
The whole thing that I was scared about was once everybody knows, what about the other people that I love, you know what I’m saying? Like how would they feel. I was so nervous about the people who’s around me before who I tried to keep it a secret too…I was like “man I wonder how they’re gonna react?” I wondered if they not going to want to be around me or be my friend no more or how’s it gonna be, but I guess honesty just takes you a long way. People really can respect the truth.
On getting advice from Tyrese (Gibson):
Even Tyrese, who’s a good friend of mine, called me and was like “man, you don’t even know what you just did.” He said “you just made my week because you’re the first young African-American, you know you’re the youngest one in the game right now with a kid, you have a chance to have every male your age and younger who has kids now…you can make them step up and become better men.” So when he told me that, I was like “WOW.” I didn’t even think about that and I never had my father in my life…ever! So this just makes me want to step up and just go harder even more and give her everything my father never gave.
It’s nice to see a young man like Bow stepping up and taking responsibility. The world doesn’t need any more deadbeat daddies!
This past weekend Russell Simmons has put it out there about how he feels when Kanye appeared on the “Today” show and apologized to former President George Bush. Russell took to the internet and wrote Kanye an open letter. Check it out below.
I agree with what Russell is telling Kanye but on the other hand was it right for Kanye to call the former President a racist? The entire ordeal surrounding Katrina is truly a tragedy and I feel Kanye spoke what everybody else was thinking anyway. He just has enough balls to say it. Read the letter below.
I have early recollections of Damon Dash calling me and forcing me to put you on Def Poetry Jam. I knew your record, “Through The Wire”, but I didn’t know much more. When you took the stage on Def Poetry Jam that night, and spit those genuine, heartfelt words, I witnessed your specialness that Damon had emphatically told me about.
From that moment on, you became a poet who has inspired the poets. I have proudly watched your career since then, and in case someone has missed the obvious, you are making a historical impact on music. Your life story took a tough turn with the passing of your mother. Although we grieved with you, we never really knew how much pain you were in. We witnessed your moment at the MTV Music Awards and many of us dismissed it as, “oh that is just Kanye being Kanye.” The hard part of all of this, is that we have all had moments in our lives that have been challenging, painful and hard to overcome, however most of us just hide our emotions and never deal with that inner-struggle that we face on a daily basis. As an artist, Kanye, you have always looked inside for your inspiration…always exuding emotions that are in us, but that we never expose. That is what artistry is about…to look inside for what is unique. With your journey towards a higher level of consciousness, a journey that we all are on, you have shown through your art a commitment to greatness.
The thirty minute film you most recently made was beyond brilliant. Brilliance is not a word that can even begin to describe your ability to paint vibrant, vivacious, colorful yet muted paintings of poetry, music, costume, art, design and most important, passion. The passion you put into your new album is why I stayed up all those nights in the early 80′s trying to get DJs and radio stations to play our records. I knew this day would come. Actually, maybe I didn’t know, but I really, really hoped it would. I didn’t work this hard when I was your age to watch the culture go the wrong way. And you, my friend, just took us to another level. I am simply in awe.
With this power, as you know, comes great responsibility. I am saying nothing you haven’t heard before. When you spoke about President Bush during the Katrina telethon, it was not the particulars of your words that mattered, it was the essence of a feeling of the insensitivity towards our communities that many of us have felt for far too long. It was the image of the President, our President, the President of the United States Of America, peering out the window of an airplane, as the people on the ground were drowning, that hurt us the most. For centuries, our people have relentlessly tread water as hard as they could to stay afloat, and here we were, literally drowning, and it felt like the President was insensitive. There is no need to apologize, Kanye. You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you. Don’t be afraid of the press, as your art is your blueprint, thanks to Jay-Z, your big brother, we will always carry our destiny in our own hands. You are are an artist whose art is masterful. You are a servant to this world who no matter how hard it gets, keeps on giving. Giving gifts that inspire us, challenge us and motivate us to be better family and friends.
Keep on, Kanye. Keep on. We love you. We cherish you. And we will always have your back.
Since the roles have switched and Kanye was depicted as “Racist” I can understand his views on feeling how George felt to some capacity. I just don’t fully believe you can compare a president of the US not taking fast enough action to help those in need to Kanye stealing away someone’s moment on an MTV awards show.
No one died at the hands of Kanye but what was that death toll from Katrina. Dwell on it. What do you guys think?