Russell Wendell Simmons was born on 4th October 1957 and became a millionaire by founding Def Jam, a hip-hop label along with Rick Rubin and by creating the fashion lines Argyleculture, American Classics and Phat Farm. He is the third richest person in hip hop, being worth around $340 million, he is topped only by Jay-Z and Sean Combs.
Simmons has two brothers and his younger brother Rev Joseph Simmons is “Run” from the hip-hop group Run-DMC. Russell went to the City College of New York however left after a short while to start producing records and to help support rap artists such as John Chavous, Kurtis Blow and his brother’s group Run DMC. Later in his life his record label ended up signing these acts. In 1984 Russell became friends with Rick Rubin and together they established Def Jam Records. They signed LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy along with many others acts. Simmons went on to form Rush Communications, a corporation that included Def Jam along with a movie production house, a management company, a magazine, an advertising agency, Phat Farm and television shows like Def Comedy Jam. He went on to sell what he owned of Def Jam Records in 1999 for $100 million to Universal Music Group. In 2003 Run Athletics was established by Rush Communications which is a sneaker company that makes Arthur Ashe and Legacy shoes.
He went into business with Unifund and produced some re-loadable Visa debit cards such as the Baby Phat Rushcard and the Rushcard and to help people who could not get a credit card. He also put “Def Poetry” on Broadway as a live show. This led to him getting awards for the cast which was young and multicultural.
In March 2007 his self help book he wrote with Chris Morrow was published. This book is called “Do You! 12 Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness And Success” and was published by Gotham Books.
In January 2009 he was made Editor-in-Chief of GlobalGrind.com:The World According To Hip-Hop. He also is a blogger for The Huffington Post.
On 20th Decemember 1998 he married model Kimora Lee with his brother Reverend Run conducting the service, however the couple spilt in March 2006 with their divorce being finalised in January 2009. Russell has two daughters called Ming and Aoki who both model for the Baby Phat Kids Collection.