Hip-Hop Entrepreneur Russell Simmons

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Russell Simmons.

Russell Simmons.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Called the "godfather of hip-hop," Russell Simmons has been credited with bringing rap to the mainstream. In the early 1980s, he founded Def Jam Records with Rick Rubin. The label launched legendary hip-hop acts like Run-D.M.C., the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J.

Simmons' hip-hop business empire quickly expanded beyond music. At various points, it has included Def Comedy Jam, which introduced comedians Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence, and the Phat Farm clothing line.

He owns the Simmons Jewelry Company, which is expected to produce a $35,000 Sony PSP game system case for the Christmas season. It will be made from a pound of gold, black diamonds and alligator skin. (This interview originally aired Nov. 27, 2001.)



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