Russell Simmons Net Worth [Updated 2023]

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Net Worth:$350 million
Profession/Career:Entrepreneur, record executive, writer, and film producer
YouTube Channel:None
College:City College of New York (did not graduate)
Full Name:Russell Wendell Simmons
Date of Birth:October 4, 1957
Place of Birth:Queens, New York
Height:5’ 9”

Who is Russell Simmons?

Russell Simmons is an American entrepreneur, record executive, and writer. He is best known as a co-founder of the influential hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings, which he started with Rick Rubin in 1983. The label signed major acts such as LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and later Jay-Z.

Simmons is also the founder of the clothing fashion line Phat Farm, as well as the co-founder of Rush Communications and the not-for-profit organization, the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

In addition, Simmons is known for his involvement in the practice and promotion of veganism and Transcendental Meditation. He has authored several books including “Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God” and “Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success”.

In the late 2010s, he faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault, which led him to step down from his businesses and retreat from the public eye.

Russell Simmons’s Net Worth

Russell Simmons’s net worth is estimated to be around $350 million.

How Did Russell Simmons Get Famous?

Russell Simmons rose to fame through his entrepreneurial efforts in the music industry, particularly in the realm of hip-hop. In 1983, Russell Simmons co-founded Def Jam Recordings with Rick Rubin. Def Jam quickly became a major player in the music industry due to its successful signings of numerous influential hip-hop artists, including LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy. The label played a crucial role in bringing hip-hop to the mainstream and establishing it as a powerful cultural force.

Prior to the establishment of Def Jam, Simmons managed his brother Joseph Simmons’ hip-hop group, Run-D.M.C. The group became one of the most influential and popular acts in the history of hip-hop, further raising Russell Simmons’ profile in the music industry.

Additionally, Simmons expanded his ventures beyond music, establishing himself as a notable figure in multiple industries. He founded the clothing fashion line Phat Farm and the entertainment company Rush Communications. He also became involved in TV and film production, creating and producing successful projects like “Def Comedy Jam” on HBO, which launched the careers of several famous comedians.

Simmons is also known for his advocacy for veganism, yoga, and meditation, but all of that came after his rise to fame.

Russell Simmons’s Early Life and Childhood

Russell Wendell Simmons was born on October 4, 1957, in Queens, New York. He grew up in the middle-class neighborhood of Hollis, Queens. His father, Daniel Simmons, was a public school administrator and his mother, Evelyn Simmons, was a New York City park administrator. His older brother, Daniel Simmons Jr., is an accomplished abstract artist, and his younger brother, Joseph Simmons, is better known as Rev Run of Run-DMC, one of the pioneer groups of hip-hop.

During his early years, Simmons associated with the street culture of the neighborhood, which included gang activities. However, he managed to avoid serious trouble and focused on music, especially hip-hop, which was beginning to emerge as a significant cultural and musical movement in New York City during the 1970s.

He attended August Martin High School before enrolling at the City College of New York in Harlem. However, he didn’t graduate, leaving to promote local musicians and manage his brother’s music group, Run-DMC.

Russell Simmons’s Most Well-Known Sign-Ons

As a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, Russell Simmons played an instrumental role in signing several artists who went on to become major figures in the hip-hop industry. Some of his most well-known sign-ons include:

LL Cool J: Def Jam Recordings’ first big break came with a young artist from Queens, NY, LL Cool J. His debut album “Radio”, released in 1985, was a major success and helped establish Def Jam as an influential label in the hip-hop scene.

Beastie Boys: The Beastie Boys, originally a punk band, moved into the hip-hop genre and were signed to Def Jam. Their debut studio album, “Licensed to Ill” (1986), was a massive commercial success and became a hip-hop classic.

Public Enemy: The group, known for their politically charged lyrics and criticism of the media, was signed to Def Jam in the mid-1980s. Their album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” (1988) is considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.

Run-DMC: While technically not signed to Def Jam (they were signed to Profile Records), Simmons managed the group, which included his brother Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons. Run-DMC was one of the first hip-hop groups to achieve mainstream success, and they played a major role in popularizing the genre.

Jay-Z: Jay-Z’s album “Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life” was released under Def Jam, and his association with the label continued throughout his career. Russell Simmons was instrumental in Jay-Z’s early career at Def Jam.

Awards and Accolades

Tony Award: Simmons was a producer for the Broadway show “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam,” which won a Tony Award in 2003 for Special Theatrical Event.

BET Hip Hop Awards: He received the “I Am Hip Hop” Icon Award at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2007, recognizing his influential contributions to the hip-hop industry.

Environmental Media Awards: Simmons was given the 2011 Environmental Media Association (EMA) Mission in Music Award for his commitment to promoting sustainability and vegetarianism.

PETA Humanitarian Award: In 2011, Simmons also received the PETA Humanitarian Award for his advocacy of animal rights and the vegan lifestyle.

Honorary Doctorate: Simmons was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Claremont Lincoln University in 2014 for his work in spiritual and cultural advancement.

Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee

Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons first met in November 1992 during New York Fashion Week. At that time, Kimora was a 17-year-old aspiring model, and Russell was a 35-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings.

Impressed by Kimora’s energy and drive, Russell began pursuing her, and they started dating shortly after. The couple got married on the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s on December 20, 1998.

They have two daughters together. The eldest, Ming Lee Simmons, was born on January 21, 2000, and their younger daughter, Aoki Lee Simmons, was born on August 16, 2002.

Russell and Kimora announced in March 2006 that they had decided to separate but would continue to work together on their business ventures. They officially divorced in January 2009. Both have since remarried and continued their respective careers. Kimora Lee Simmons is also known for her work as a fashion model and designer, particularly for her role in the Baby Phat fashion line.

Russell Simmons’s Controversies

Russell Simmons has been involved in several controversies, the most notable and serious of which are the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault that emerged against him in the late 2010s.

In 2017, following a wave of similar revelations in the entertainment industry linked to the #MeToo movement, several women came forward to accuse Simmons of sexual misconduct, including harassment and rape, with incidents dating back to the 1980s. Simmons has denied all allegations, asserting that all his relationships have been consensual.

These allegations led Simmons to step down from his positions in Def Jam Recordings and his other businesses to avoid becoming a distraction. He also moved to Bali, Indonesia, a country without an extradition treaty with the United States.

These allegations had not been resolved in a court of law, and he’s kept a very low profile as of late.

Russell Simmons’s Philanthropy

Russell Simmons has been involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors throughout his career. He is known for his work in promoting arts, education, and socio-economic inclusivity.

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation

In 1995, Russell, along with his brothers, Danny and Joseph Simmons, founded the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to provide disadvantaged urban youth with significant arts exposure and access, and to offer exhibition opportunities for underrepresented artists and artists of color.

Diamond Empowerment Fund

Simmons co-founded the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a non-profit organization aimed at raising money to support education initiatives in countries where diamonds are a natural resource.

Hip-Hop Summit Action Network

In 2001, Simmons co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN). The organization’s goal is to use the cultural relevance of hip-hop to advocate for political and social change.

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

Simmons is the chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an organization dedicated to promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-ethnic relations.

PETA and Animal Rights

Simmons is a vocal advocate for animal rights and has been honored by PETA for his activism. He follows a vegan lifestyle and often speaks about the health, environmental, and ethical benefits of plant-based diets.

Inspirational Quotes by Russell Simmons

“The goal is not to be rich, the goal is to be rich in spirit.”

“You just have to pay attention to what people need and what has not been done.”

“Art allows people a way to dream their way out of their struggle.”

“People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly.”

“The person who stays in the business the longest is the person who is in it for the love of the music.”

“I want to fight poverty and ignorance and give opportunity to those people who are locked out.”

“The reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, ever for one minute been money.”

“Success will come when you love what you’re doing.”

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”

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