One of hip-hop’s greatest assets for almost four decades is undoubtedly Russell Simmons. From producing with Def Jam, to clothing with Phat Farm, to finance with RushCard, and even yoga with Tantris Simmons is the master of the hip-hop trade.
A native son of Queens, New York, the brother of Run-DMC’s Reverend Run recently sat down with Reuters to talk about how he went from the child of park and school administrators to hip-hop mogul.
“[My parents]” taught me to be frugal” Simmons related, “Money was never primary in any of our choices for education or in life.” He stated that this led to his parents pushing the brothers to pursue their passions, to “take the route that inspired us, rather than the one that produced the most money.”
This of course led to being a co-founder of Def Jam, Simmons did not realize that he was beginning a cultural movement, just that, “When I made a good record, the world moved slowly.” Def Jam taught him that, “[this] is what we want in life: to be more present.”
Expanding out from Def Jam, Simmons learned that “you have to have faith in your business.” That hard work, determination, and faith were the backbone to success, and above all, “this takes time…I’ve learned you can’t fail until you quit.”
Despite his success, Simmons finds himself turning towards the communities that have empowered him to his position. Saying of RushCard, the prepaid debit card company he co-founded 15 years ago, that he, “wanted to empower those families who had been cut out of the modern banking economy.” From this simple beginning, he has created an alternative for “working class, middle class, and affluent families.”
In addition he chairs the “Foundation of Ethnic Understanding, fighting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia” even though he himself is neither jewish or a muslim. Simmons said he is driven to do so, “because no one else is doing it.”
Simmons imparted two lasting takeaways from his life. The first that success is nothing but, “stable, lasting happiness.” That this happiness is, “a practice, and you get there by being more compassionate, more giving, and less anxious.” Secondly, that he wishes he passes on the lesson to not, “waste any of God’s resources.” Stating that “money is small” but the not being “wasteful is big.”
“Having a frugal attitude is what I’d like them to take away.”
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