Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God

ISBN: 0609807153
ISBN 13: 9780609807156
By: Russell Simmons Nelson George

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9th Grade Biographies Biography Biography Memoir Business Currently Reading Hip Hop Music Non Fiction To Read

About this book

Russell Simmons, the original and eternal hip-hop mogul, is one of the most innovative and influential figures in modern American business and culture. When no one outside of inner-city New York had even heard of hip-hop, Simmons saw the seeds of a global force that would change the way people talk, dress, listen to music, and choose the heroes they hang on their walls. Today, he oversees a sprawling, multimillion-dollar empire of culture-defining businesses in everything from music to fashion, advertising to film, and media to visual art. At the same time he’s broadened his interests and influence and pushed hip-hop to new plateaus of power and relevance. Life and Def is a one-of-a-kind tale that interweaves the remarkable journey of Russell Simmons with the story of the culture he’s transformed and been transformed by. In his own brash, compelling voice, Simmons chronicles his numerous business successes and occasional failures. He tells the story of the founding of the legendary Def Jam Records, whose roster stretches from original rap icons like L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys to today’s top stars, including Jay-Z and DMX. He traces the launching of Def Comedy Jam, the long-running hit television series that introduced a new generation of black comedic stars to America, from Martin Lawrence and Bill Bellamy to Bernie Mac and Chris Rock. He spins hilarious tales of his adventures in Hollywood, where he’s produced hit movies like Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor and worked with quirky geniuses like Abel Ferrara. He also tells the story of Phat Farm, the wildly successful pioneering urban clothing label whose origins lay in Russell’s longtime fascination with fashion (and fashion models).Simmons’s story is also one of personal transformation, from the driven man who in the heady days of early success indulged himself with drugs, sex, and world-class decadence to the husband and father he is today, a man who has found meaning in activism, philanthropy, and spiritual practice while never losing his passion for the social, political, artistic, and commercial potential of hip-hop.Through it all he relates telling anecdotes about the characters he’s dealt with: models and gangsters, street poets and gurus, and major players like Donald Trump, Sean Combs, Jon Peters, and Tupac Shakur. Full of advice, opinions, and behind-the-scenes scoop, Life and Def is the story of the quintessential hip-hop life.From the Hardcover edition.

Reader's Thoughts

Kelvin Singleton

Russel Simmons' work in Sex, Drugs, Money, + God was a compelling depiction of the pitfalls of wanting, striving to achieve at any cost, and having success, Without and with God's blessing. It reminds me of my own life; where I've been; what I was willing to do;what I'm capable of; and where it ultimately led and now leads me. Inspiring.


What a story!!!


the biggest themes in this book are cocaine, cellphones & yoga. things that are really annoying when other people do/use them...but you're okay when you do/use them.

Corina was aiiight....not much detail about his personal story, but more an overview of his business ventures and little tidbits of advice. I was expecting a lot more, but it's worth reading for anyone interested in hip hop culture, or the music business. I hope someday he writes a real autobiography, and maybe uses a decent co writer!

Tony Smith

Russell is a force, he has opened my eyes to business.Not just the music, but the business of life and the life of business,I love it all.Visionary, this needs to be in all of our homes.


life is luck and work


Great book not just about Russell but also about the early beginnings of hip hop and how he helped to shape it.-


The title speaks for itself. In the late sixties and seventies, he speaks about drugs and money--how he sold artificial drugs as a youth and later when gangs formulated in Queens, Harlem, and surrounding cities. He later realized that he came from a decent neighborhood and good-home training, why was he in the street selling fake drugs (cocoa leaf as if it was cocaine) and hanging out with gangs (for those who came from broken homes)--so he got out before death came knocking at his door. He went to college and before finishing his degree in sociology like his mother, only 4-5 credits short from a degree, he started his record company. Now, we see how he built his empire and all came into fruition for Def Jam, later Phat Farm, and other business ventures. While reading this book, it brought back memories when I loved hip-hop and rap. There was debates on who were the first rappers in the game such as Kurtis Blow (first male solo artist) 1977, Afrikka Bambaataa, and/or Sugar Hill Gang. It also made me remember when my father bought off the ramp of Chicago freeway an album of "Rapper's Delight" by Sugar Hill when I was only 7 years old. I was into the cover and later we loved the song! Then, you have the hard hitters like L.L. Cool J, Run D.M.C. and controversial rap groups like Beastie Boys and PE (public enemy). Now I am questioning why I loved rap then and dislike it now! He also talks briefly about Jay-Z and DMC, marriage, and pictures to refer to those times in the rap game (family photos, etc). Oddly, when he mentions some of these titles from various artists, I remember the chorus line after all these years. I also thought about from 83-90, when I lived in the Midwest (Chicago), New York, and West Coast (California) where the music varied from east coast to west coast music and artists including tunes of dance/house music! I recall how some rap artists were played all over, regardless of east-west coast rivalries...and thinking back, sometimes east coast (NY) would only play their rappers and vice versa in the west coast...but Midwest played them both. We heard Too-Short, NWA, Easy-E, as well as Run DMC, Public Enemy, and LL Cool J while we rocked to stepping sounds and house music. Loved it when I lived in Chicago area!

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