Def Jam record founder Russell Simmons will discuss entrepreneurship and his own role as a businessman during an appearance at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Strong Auditorium on the University of Rochester's River Campus.
Simmons is most famous as the man behind the record label that launched the hip hop careers of LL Cool J, Run DMC, and the Beastie Boys. Described as one of a new class of "serial entrepreneurs," Simmons also has produced films and two HBO series, launched the clothing line "Phat Farm," and started a hip-hop lifestyle magazine. In 2004, he made Inc. magazine's list of "America's 25 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs."
Born in Queens, Simmons started promoting block parties and club shows while a student at City College of New York. He formed his own Rush Productions company, which has grown into one of the largest African American-owned media companies in the United States. He co-founded the Def Jam Record label in 1984, bringing hip-hop to urban and suburban teenagers alike.
In 1991, Simmons's Def Comedy Jam series on HBO showcased such black standup comedians as Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, and Jamie Foxx. Simmons produced a range of films including The Nutty Professor, Gridlock'd, and How to Be a Player. His magazine One World spun off a syndicated television show hosted by supermodel Kimora Lee. He returned to HBO in 2001 with Def Poetry Jam, a series presenting up-and-coming and seasoned poets performing their works in front of a live audience.
Admission to Simmons's program in Rochester is $10 for the general public and $5 for University of Rochester students, faculty, and staff. Advance tickets will be available at the Common Market in Wilson Commons on the River Campus beginning Friday, Sept. 1. For more information, contact (585) 275-5911.