Russell Simmons released his book, Do You: Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness And Success, right as the argument about hip hop’s often misogynist lyrics reached a fever pitch.
The result? He is answering (or dodging) more questions about hip hop lyrics during his book tour than he is being asked about his book.
So when the hip hop mogul sat down recently with NPR’s Farai Chideya, he got so flustered she thought he was going to walk out.
…when he’s asked if he feels that the kind of music his company produces can have harmful effects, the conversation can turn volatile, as it did during our sit-down. At one point, Simmons characterized our discussion in less-than-family-friendly terms.
You’ll have to listen to the interview to get Simmons in full feather, but let me take you into the studio at that moment: Russell is sitting a few feet from me, wearing spotless white athletic shoes, a shirt with a yoga theme, and a crisp baseball cap tilted to the side. While he is going off, he is leaning off — away from the mic, that is. He’s talking to his assistant in studio, complaining about the interview, and I’m thinking, “Is he about to run the heck out of here?”
Luckily, he didn’t. In the end, after a long back-and-forth, Simmons explained that his role is to promote all of hip-hop, good and bad, not to be a judge or a gate-keeper.
“Did they tell you why I came here?” Simmons asks once things cool down. “My job is as a servant of hip-hop. That’s my job, and people who criticize are not able to serve properly. I’m on the inside, so when I walk into a new business, I open doors.
Warning! Simmons talks about “love and consciousness” when discussing his new book, but when he talks about hip hop, he uses the same “N”, “B” and “H” words that he wants off the radio.
By the way, did anyone tell Russell this was a radio interview?