Russell Simmons

Entrepreneur Russell Simmons a.k.a. Rush born (October 4, 1957) in Queens, NY, is the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, and is also founder of another label, Russell Simmons Music Group.

Simmons is the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, better known as "Run" of Run-DMC, and is the son of Daniel Simmons, a public school administrator. He is married to model Kimora Lee Simmons, and the couple have two daughters, Ming Lee, born January 21, 2000, and Aoki Lee.

Simmons attended City College of New York but left his studies to begin promoting local rap acts, including Kurtis Blow and Run DMC (who he would also later sign to his record label) and producing records. In 1984 he met Rubin, and the two founded Def Jam Records, signing the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and other acts.

Def Jam became just one piece in Simmons' corporation, Rush Communications, which included a management company, a clothing company called Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as "Def Comedy Jam" a magazine, and an advertising agency. Simmons sold his stake in the record company for $100 million to Universal Music Group in 1999, and sold Phat Farm in 2004 for $140 million. Simmons total net worth has been estimated to be around $500 million.

Recently, Simmons brought Def Poetry Jam to Broadway as a live show, earning awards for the youthful and multicultural cast. Simmons, in partnership with a financial institution, released a line of re-loadable Visa Debit cards aimed at consumers who would other wise have problems obtaining a checking/debit account.

Russell Simmons has consistently made significant contributions to the contemporary civil rights movement and other social justice efforts. His influence aided get out the vote efforts in the 2004 US presidential election. Simmons, a vegan, has also spoken out against cruelty in factory farms and slaughterhouses, and has participated in PETA's campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken. While he speaks out against animal cruelty, he does market a line of leather goods.

Since May 2005 he's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.