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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Am I the Only One Confused by Russell Simmons?

I just don't get Russell Simmons. I have been feeling this way for a couple of years now due to how he juxtaposes his humanitarian efforts with the current hip hop music that he endorses. On one hand, in the past he has been very vocal regarding the reformation of New York's strict Rockefeller drug laws and on the other, the culture that he is marketing continues to glamorize a thuggish (and sometimes drug referenced) lifestyle. What prompted me to write this particular entry, relates to an NY Daily News article that reported now Simmons and model/Tsunami survivor, Petra Nemcova are on a fact finding tour of South African diamond mines. Ever the business mogul, Simmons coincidently has an endorsement deal with the DeBeers diamond company. Again, we have a culture that promotes bling over substance to the detriment of Africans who have died due to the exploitation of their labor as it pertains to the funding of civil wars.

Russell has stated that he is attempting to empower these exploited diamond mining Africans but when will he own up to the damage that negative rap music has done to African-Americans? This is the root of the quandry that I find myself having with Mr. Simmons. You can throw President Carter(Jay-z for the uninitiated) in this mix as well. Recently, Jigga had a street named after him in Nigeria for highlighting the country's water crisis. In a prior entry, I was highly critical of his boycott against Cristal, a drink that many in his fanbase probably can not afford and yet the lifestyle that he promotes as well as hiphop's nihilism continues. More on Russell and Jay-z below:

  • Simmons on gem of a trip

  • Documentary Following Russell Simmons' Fight Against Rockefeller Drug Laws In Production

  • Uneasy Lies the Head

  • Jay-z Gets Street Named After Him In Nigeria
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