#74. I met Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records (New Orleans, 2011).


Russell Simmons and Rip Van Winkle

Since I met Def Jam records founder Russell Simmons in 2011, he’s faced rape accusations that look credible. It’s tough to admire him any longer.

But regardless of my feelings, he remains one of America’s very few, real self-made men, who rose from dirt poor to Oprah rich, and brought a lot of Black people up with him: Run DMC, Public Enemy, EPMD, Slick Rick, Beastie Boys (oops wait, not Black)… With no seed money, Russell Simmons made rap music popular.

Our interview in 2011 though, was about yoga. And it was exceptionally corny.

Simmons visited New Orleans during Essence Fest, to promote his then-new book Super Rich: A Guide To Having It All, wherein he claimed that being rich is just a state of mind, and that money cannot buy (yaaaaaaaaaawn) happiness. Which is easy to say for a guy who wears each pair of his Jordans just once before donating them to charity.

Simmons told me, “Super Rich means ‘needing nothing.’ It’s a state where your connection to your higher self is so strong …that there’s no difference between being broke and being a millionaire.”

Nowadays, that would be called trolling. I might let the broke guy try and teach me that trick, but not a rich dude.

In the book, Simmons writes things like, “I sincerely hope that everyone reading can employ these principles to attract every toy that I’ve had the good pleasure to play with.” Gross. In the Super Rich chapter, “Give It Away (Until They Can’t Live Without It),” Simmons suggests giving away “your gifts” for free and expecting nothing in return. “If you’re not giving away your gift, then you are not in the game,” Simmons says. “And if you are not in the game, you can’t win.”

I wonder how Jay Z responded when Russell suggested giving away The Blueprint.

Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.

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