‘On the Record’ on HBO Max is yet another powerful documentary in the post #MeToo era, highlighting the exploitative practices of Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. Simmons is almost like royalty in the world of hip hop, having promoted groups like Run-DMC. Artists like LL Cool J and Nas are associated with Def Jam as well.
However, in the world of music, work and play often have blurry lines, with many late nights at clubs scouting talent. Russell, accordingly, was the picture-perfect decadent playboy with his Rolls Royce, drugs, and hypersexuality. The sexual harassment within the music industry often goes unreported, especially when a gatekeeper like Simmons is involved. Moreover, the survivors are usually mindful of the cultural impact men like Simmons have made in the black community. Thus, women have kept silent for a long time, but they are speaking up now, and they weave a harrowing tale in ‘On the Record.’
Where is Russell Simmons Now?
Multiple women spoke out against Simmons in an expose by The New York Times, which came out in December 2017. Following the allegations, Simmons stepped down from his companies All Def Digital, Def Pictures, his film company, and Russell’s yoga lifestyle brand Tantris. He released a statement saying the companies would be run by “a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward,” and he’d commit to “personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”
As more women came forward with their stories, Russell found himself embattled on all sides. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Simmons had started selling off his real estate in the US by July 2018. Among the properties sold, are his New York Financial District penthouse, his house in Hollywood Hills, and the Tantris Yoga Studio on Sunset Boulevard. At that time, a spokesperson for Simmons noted that “Russell divested himself of his active U.S. business interests last year to focus on his spiritual practice and serving his community. As part of that journey, Russell has traveled to many spiritual destinations around the world but continues to retain active family presence and residence in the U.S.”
Notably, Simmons has moved to Bali in Indonesia. Despite the official narrative, there have been claims that Russell simply moved to Bali because it has no extradition treaty in place when it comes to the US. Check out a post by Simmons below, which shows that he’s in Bali.
Simmons seems to have revamped his image, changing his online name to ‘Uncle Rush.’ He’s gone from being a hip hop mogul to being a yoga instructor and elderly statesman. Drew Dixon, one of the women speaking out against Simmons, stated that years later, in an industry event, he apologized to her. He said he had daughters now and did yoga and knew what he’d done to Drew was wrong. You can check out a tweet by Simmons below, showing how invested he is in yoga as a way of life.
Drown out the noise !!’ A powerful shockwave of peace and rejuvenation will be sent throughout the planet with a mass meditation 1 billion Meditators all vibrating may 21 at 11 am pst All together quantum… https://t.co/vRyRvXt9dW
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) May 19, 2020
However, despite being apologetic about his past actions, Russell has maintained that he’s not guilty of sexually assaulting anyone. In May 2019, The Hollywood Reporter noted that he’d made a statement, saying, “I am horrified at the false allegations made against me in the Complaint. I do not know, and I have never heard of Plaintiff. Her allegation that I committed sexual battery and threatened to rape her son is absurd, shameful, and untrue. I have never had non-consensual sex with Plaintiff or anyone else.” Simmons’ statement arrived in the wake of a case made by a Jane Doe, who alleged that Simmons asked her backstage, and to his hotel room, after a concert, she’d attended with her son. While in the hotel room, he’d proceeded to rape her.
Simmons also had quite a bit to say about ‘On the Record,’ which initially had Oprah as an executive producer. In December 2019, he confronted her about singling out black people in her activism. You can check out the lengthy Instagram post below.
Although Oprah cited creative differences and expressed support for the women telling their stories, The New York Times reported in January 2020 that she’d left after being privately pressurized by Simmons over the expose. Whether Russell Simmons has changed for the better, is not something for us to ponder. However, there is no denying that he’s still using his influence within the industry to turn tides in his favor. It is most evident by his attempts to hamper the progress of ‘On the Record.’
Most recently, Simmons has mourned the death of Andre Harrell, the founder of Uptown Records and once-CEO of Motown Records. Check out his tweet below.
Irreplaceable 💔 @iamAndreHarrell I MISS YOU. HE WAS SO KIND. SO BEAUTIFUL. SO PATIENT. SO BLACK. SO CARING. SO SHARING. SO WISE. THE LIFE OF THE PARTY. A MUSICAL GENIUS! MY HERO. !🖤✊🏿LOVE FOREVER 💔 https://t.co/9ktk04SN7Z
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) May 15, 2020
Even though he’s not in the US, Russell is concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and seems eager to help out the community. Therefore, a recent post outlines how he’s urging others to contribute to those on the frontlines in Newark. [Cover Photo Courtesy: Photo by Rodrigo Varela/WireImage]
Read More: Where is Drew Dixon Today?