Russell Simmons: Behind the Music #96

Season 1 Ep 961/23/2000

A look at the life of the man many consider the "Godfather of Hip Hop." Nearly 20 years ago, Russell Simmons founded Def Jam Records, rap's most enduring record label. He was instrumental in building the careers of Run-DMC (who he managed, although they recorded for another label), as well as L.L. Cool J., the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Today, Def Jam Records is one of the top three hip hop labels in the country, and in late 1998 Russell sold his Def Jam empire to Universal for more than $100 million (he still remains as Chairman). Simmons discusses his childhood-growing up in a crime-ridden, drug-infested area of Queens, New York, the initial resistance he encountered within the music industry that deemed rap music as nothing but noise, debt problems that almost crushed him, the success of his fashion line, Phat Farm, his new venture into the internet arena and the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry that ultimately got deadly. Includes interviews with Sean "Puffy" Combs, Grandmaster Flash, Rick Rubin, Andre Harrell, Donald Trump, as well as friends and family.

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