THE RUSSELL SIMMONS MUSIC GROUP (RSMG) FORMED AS LABEL VENTURE WITH ISLAND DEF JAM MUSIC GROUP
April 14, 2005 – New York, NY-The Russell Simmons Music Group (RSMG) has been formed as a 50/50 joint label with Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ) to include a label deal and consultancy agreement, it was announced today by Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Chairman, Island Def Jam Music Group, a division of Universal Music Group.
RSMG will be headed by Russell Simmons, co-founder of the original Def Jam Records label two decades ago. Tony Austin has been named president of the new label. RSMG will debut later this year with new albums by Reverend Run (Joseph Simmons), one of the founders of beloved hip-hop icons Run-DMC, and Buddafly, a hot R&B group comprised of three sisters.
“Russell Simmons is one of the guiding spirits and musical godfathers of hip-hop in America and around the world,” said Mr. Reid. “He is a forward-thinking innovator with a profound awareness of every nuance that the movement is going through. It has always been my intention to structure a situation that would keep Russell in the Island Def Jam family, and I am proud that we will be able to continue to accomplish our goals together.”
“The reason I’m back in the music business is because I’m inspired by the wonderful opportunity to work again directly with L.A. Reid, Jay-Z and Reverend Run,” declared Russell Simmons. “The opportunity to develop, help and protect young artists as they seek out their own truth deep inside of them and to express that truth to a world that’s thirsty for the genius of hip-hop and pop culture, is a blessing of a lifetime. I’m also inspired by Tony Austin, my partner and the president of RSMG, in whom I believe I’ve found a musical genius. Reverend Run’s and Buddafly’s presence on RSMG demonstrates our commitment to cultural diversity and integrity.”
“History has yet to catch up with the greatness of Russell Simmons and the extent of his contributions to our music and culture,” said Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), President & CEO, Def Jam Recordings. “It is impossible to imagine the state of hip-hop today without accounting for Russell’s visionary leadership over the past 20 years.”
Russell Simmons has been instrumental in bringing Hip-Hop to every facet of business and media since its inception in the late 1970s: in music with the immensely successful Def Jam Recordings; in film with Simmons Lathan Media Group; in television with HBO’s “The Def Comedy Jam” and “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry”; on Broadway with the Tony Award winning stage production “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway”; in the fashion industry with the red-hot Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Run Athletics, and Def Jam University clothing lines; in the financial services industry with the RushCard and Baby Phat RushCard; in the food and beverage business with Russell Simmons Beverage Company and its Def Con 3 healthy energy drink.
Simmons’ interests extend far beyond the business world, and he spends a great deal of his time and considerable energy working for social, political, and philanthropic causes, pushing hip-hop on to new plateaus of power and relevance. In 1995 he, along with his brothers Danny and Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run of Run-DMC), founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The organization is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as offering exhibition opportunities to underrepresented artists and artists of color. Following the historic Hip-Hop Summit Russell organized in June 2001, he and Minister Benjamin Muhammad founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) to harness the cultural relevance of hip-hop music as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the well being of at-risk youth throughout the United States.
Simmons is currently Chairman of HSAN and Minister Muhammad is its President/CEO. Simmons is also Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding with Rabbi Marc Schneier. The Foundation was created to promote dialogue between the Black and Jewish communities as a way to come to a deeper understanding about our similarities, as well as our differences.
“This is a dream come true to partner with a man like Russell Simmons and I am humbly honored,” emphasized Tony Austin. “The energy he has is amazing and he is an inspiration to be around. The resources and support systems we have access to are incredible and I believe it will afford us a real edge in doing business. I am very excited about the road ahead, very passionate about the artists and the music we are working with and look forward to coming to work each day and making things happen.”
Tony Austin founded King Shah Productions in January 1994. The company produced extremely successful comedic tours with Steve Harvey, Chris Tucker and John Witherspoon, as well as a large scale concert production of the R. Kelly and LL Cool J tour. In 2002, Tony Austin founded the production company, Chocolate City Music, which served as an incubator to develop and nurture artists and that’s where Tony first came across Buddafly. Austin has been an A&R executive for Def Jam since 2003 and there, worked with such artists as DMX, Comp and Buddafly. He has remained an A&R consultant for the company.
The Russell Simmons Music Group (RSMG), founded by hip-hop icon Russell Simmons, is dedicated to seeking out new and exciting talent in urban and pop music wherever it resides. RSMG is a joint venture with Island Def Jam Music Group.