Today we celebrate the 61st birthday of Hip Hop pioneer Russell Simmons!

Since the founding of Def Jam Recordings in 1983, Russell Simmons has been an instrumental part in the advancement of Hip Hop culture. Over his illustrious career Russell has launched the careers of multi-platinum artists (LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy to name a few), co-founded top-selling clothing lines Baby Phat and Phat Farm, created financial institutions with the Rush Card, and award-winning television shows Def Poetry Jam and Run’s House. It is nearly impossible to say what the state of rap music and Hip Hop culture would be today with the Russell Simmons influence.

Lately, Uncle Rush has even begun taking large strides outside of the entertainment and financial industries, becoming Hip Hop’s new-age spiritual guru. Since 2010, Simmons has released self-help books sharing his views on religion, spirituality, and even health. Through his Hindu and vegan lifestyles, Uncle Rush has assumed the role of mentor to a vast majority of today’s top recording artists.

Over the years, Hip Hop empires have risen to power and fallen from the mountaintop. Russell Simmons, however, has always been able to brave the tide and stand strong as one of the most impregnable forces of marketing and branding expertise. Since his first project, Run D.M.C., it has been obvious that no one truly understands Hip Hop the way that Russell Simmons does. His Midas touch continues to transform the culture into something new (and more profitable) with every idea he brings to fruition. He is truly a rap genius.