From Farai

The Zen of Hip Hop: Or, Russell Simmons Unplugged

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You gotta check out today's interview with Russell Simmons. Props to producer Roy Hurst for taking 40 minutes of raw tape and cutting out most of the cursing and shouting... but leaving in just enough to give you a sense of how things went in the studio.

Russell Simmons is a hard man to book for an interview, so when he scheduled with us for a recent Friday we leapt at the chance. He rolled into NPR West six deep with people on cell phones: mainly burly men who did not smile. His shoes were arctic white, probably Air Force Ones, though I'm not up on the sneaker game. His shirt was covered in sanskrit writing. His hat was purposefully thrust to the side.

You just know some interviews are going to require a bit of energy, and there was adrenaline pumping for me (and I think other members of the staff) well before Simmons was seated in studio.

After all, this is the man who so put out the staff of WGN-TV in Chicago that they ran a blog post called "Russell Simmons: Get Over Yourself"

It read in part:

What we didn't get to in the interview is that SImmons is a proponent of Yoga. Page 71, he writes, "Meditation can help bring you back to a place that you probably forgot even existed. A place where you will know the right choice to make in every situation. A place where you can be in control of your emotions and ignore the distractions that keep you from focusing on what's really important."

Maybe all that sitting in silence caused his inner Ying or Yang to explode. All of the book's quotes from Ghandi about peace and love are fine, but it's all hard to take seriously when the author is cussing on two phones at the same time, and text-messaging his empire, instead of focusing on the people sitting right in front of him.

————————

Anyhow, given that context, just listen to what we got out of him.

Apparently, talking about misogyny is a no-no. Good thing we're doing a special roundtable on gender and hip hop next week!

It's all part of this month's Hip Hop series. And we got a LOT of other great stories up our sleeve.

———————————-

Anyhow, for me, this ranks as one of my all time favorite interviews. Not favorite the way you might say "chocolate is my favorite sweet," but more like, "this will go down in the annals of my interviewing history."

Hey, it didn't blow all the way up like Gene Simmons on Terry Gross' Fresh Air.... I'm relieved.

Oh, by the way, if you want to get a good decoder ring for some of the buddhist philosophy Russell and I were talking about, check out this great book on Buddhism and African-Americans, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace by Angel Kyodo Williams. Really, anyone can benefit from it... whether you're interested in Buddhist practice or just learning about the philosophy, it's simply written and clearly delivered.

Can't wait to hear what y'all think of the interview! And is Russell, as he says, a servant of hip hop?

Comments

 

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Ms. Chideya:
I am greatly disappointed in how you conducted yourself during your interview with Mr. Simmons. I found you to be disrespectful and rude. Your show sounded like a shock jock program. You were out of line "complaining" about bitches, niggas and ho's when the man was there to promote his book.
It's not right that Mr. Simmons has to defend his influence in hip-hop every time he interviews with an African American interviewer. I believe he's often attacked by African American female interviewers because they are jealous that he chose an Asian queen instead of an African American one and that African American males in the music industry whether they be artists or dj's attack him because they are "JEALOUS" of his success.
I believe hip-hop has done more for race relations than the civil rights movement since Dr. King???s influence. The truth of the matter is Ms. Chideya, you probably wouldn't even have a show if not for the entire hip-hop movement. One Love

Sent by Treniece Bridges from Jacksonville, Florida | 9:01 PM | 6-4-2007

I have to say that I thought Russell Simmons had much more of a point than Ms. Chideya had when it came to talking about his book compared to debating the appropriateness of hip hop diction.

To entrap someone into trying to defend the actions of other people is just kind of an unfair conversational ploy; to do it to someone you're interviewing is the action of a political operative.

I'm a 60's-era feminist, and I may agree with some of your own perspectives on the matter, but this interview was NOT the time or place to push them.

I hope you think twice about this and make a plan to move away from this tactic in future interviews. It's annoying and embarrassing to listen to.

Sent by Janet | 9:29 PM | 6-4-2007

The man is awesome! He is what he is, on one hand he is giving back, so what if he isn't polished and suited up, he is Russell Simmons, just stop fighting him and listen. It was awesome!

Sent by Nik | 9:48 PM | 6-4-2007

I'm from NY, not to far from where Russell & Run DMC are from. I don't like Simmons! I think he's a sell out! He talks so highly of Hip Hop & Rappers of today. I think most of todays rap/hip hop, not all, is poison & filthy! Why must all the foul langauge & name calling be in the songs. We all know about the fight to clean up the lyric's. Russell is fighting to let Rappers say whats on their minds. Freedom of speach he says. Russell is all for his pockets! Russell & Ben Chivez[ hope I got his name right]are both full of #^*+. I'll give Russell props as a smart bussiness man, but also as a SELL OUT!

Sent by Brian Williams | 11:12 PM | 6-4-2007

I found Russell's comments thought provoking even if I didn't fully agree with all the points. One cannot reap the true benefits of peace and love behind the reality of a mafia style industry. However, I also agree that Ms. Chideya failed to take the interview towards the "Zen" state that I come to expect from NPR. It's the interviewer's "art" to craft the questions so that the listeners can "see inside" the guest. Instead we were given a "what wrong with rap" questionnaire that's already been done a thousand times over.

Sent by Mike | 8:19 AM | 6-5-2007

As someone inspired by Farai on a daily basis, I felt I had to chime in and shine some light her way. Russell has been peddling his special brand of "Zen" for years while filling his pockets at the expense of black youth. It's fine to speak out for free speech, but when one's freedom comes at the cost of another's it isn't free, is it? Early European settlers of North America felt the same way about their "right" to own slave-labor in the South. That's what led to the War of Secession.

Rather than taking responsibility for his actions and owning up to his inaction, he deflects it by saying his work brought black culture to the attention of white folks in Beverly Hills. Guess what? White folks in Beverly Hills are STILL not doing anything to help poor black people living 15 miles south of them in Crenshaw, Watts, South Central, Inglewood, etc.. Sure they nod their heads to the beats, but brown and black Angelenos are still living in poverty, are poorly educated, have inadequate healthcare and few economic opportunities. Hip hop ain't changed that for the 'hood.

And raise all the money you want for Africa, Russell, but if those dollars don't make it back to the 'hood in America you've chosen to focus on one problem while ignoring the beggars at your feet. There are no humane diamond and gold mining methods in existence. Precious metals and gems are paid for with lung tissue and carcinogenic exposure. The countries in which mineral wealth is being exploited have real political problems that won't be solved by a committee run by the DeBeers family. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can turn bling into economic prosperity so that you can have your cake and eat it too. No, you have to choose, living high or living right.

Having been raised in a household guided by Buddhist and Christian values I find it hard to believe he is in balance with himself, God or the universe given his display of temper and reductive reasoning. And to top it all off he admits to handing out payola to radio disk jockeys around the country. I hope the FCC follows up on that.... I'm sure Russell is a sweetheart, a nice man, and his heart is in the right place, however, if your values are skewed and you spend your time justifying the things you WANT to do, instead of finding just things TO do, you're an ends-justifies-the-means and Zen is the opposite of that -- the means ALWAYS justify the ends. I love hip hop, but I don't mistake lifestyle rap for political messages and I hope people who write in stop and think about what hip hop has done for them lately.

Sent by Marie | 12:29 PM | 6-5-2007

This man is in complete denial. He puts out a book full of peace, love & harmony and then spews anything but that when questioned on his most important product. When Nike was busted for running sweat shops they did something about it. Russell may be doing lots of worthy philanthropy but it's hard to see that work as legit when he seems to want to help everyone but the people his product hurts. And 'not a businessman'? Are you kidding me?!

Sent by Dave | 1:11 PM | 6-5-2007

Russell Simmons demonstrated arrogance, hipocracy and social ineptness in their truest form. Bottom line, Russell Simmons obviously came on the program to peddle his book and not address misogny in hip hop or rap music. I'm just sick of the media giving this money grubing ignoramus a platform to peddle his latest project(s). Farai, you handle this interview the only way you could, "like a pro!".

Sent by News & Notes Listener | 1:35 PM | 6-5-2007

First, I'd like to tip my hat to Farai for maintaining her poise through that arduous interview with Russell Simmons that had me rolling my eyes as a listener. Second, I must say I'm an admirer of Russell and the groundbreaking work he did with Hip-Hop.

However, the rolling of my eyes came from such contradictory answers he was giving such as he loved a certain hip-hop song involving the term "Bi***" to the extent of been one of his favorites but he doesn't promote such words or his daughters would not listen to such words. He promotes peace and love but he could go off on the phone while on an interview with raging expletives. Then this is the mother of it all, when he said "I'm not a businessman!" Oh come on! One of the reasons I admire Russell is because of his business acumen; excuse my english but it ain't all about the show. It's like an artist in showbusiness and they don't consider the business side of the show business. Yes he started with the creative side and I'm not a betting person but if I were; I bet you he considered the profitability of his creativity. I mean has nobody seen "Run's house" and see the tight ship he runs called his empire? That's not been a businessman? You mean to tell me if Def Jam Poetry, Comedy, and Records tanked, he would still say he wasn't a businessman; in fact I'll believe him then. But please don't insult mine and other listeners' intelligence.

Sent by Moji Oderinde | 3:34 PM | 6-5-2007

Russell Simmons is not God. Oprah Winfrey is not the Goddess of the universe. Point: There are no real Black leaders in 2007.

Sent by Vincent Harris | 4:08 PM | 6-5-2007

I have to agree with some of the others on this post. I believe the interview should have been more focused on promoting his book (which, I'm sure is the reason he agreed to do the interview in the first place).

Even though I would also like to hear him speak honestly about the misogyny in hip-hop and his contribution to it. This is a man who has made millions of dollars off the degrading music rappers put out. How can he speak out honestly about something he helped create and is still a part of without alienating himself from his peers or being viewed as a hypocrite? I don't think we will ever get an honest answer from him without having to hear his opinions on how poverty is to blame for the songs rappers are putting out.

If he is truly a servant of hip-hop the first thing he should do is be honest with himself those he claim serve by helping them accept responsibility for what they put out and not hide behind their right to free speech.

Sent by Jay | 5:43 PM | 6-5-2007

See, this is what makes me hesitate to subscribe to my local npr station; npr too often gives a forum to "hip hop" and greasy conmen like this. Simmons was on Oprah recently and no one in the audience, or the womens group present, fell for his sophistry, the lines he uses to persuade those who aren't looking for it, or want to be convinced. If I were a white supremecist and somebody said, "press this button and "hip hop" and ppl. like Simmons will exist, I'd certainly press it. Conmen continue to thrive because alot of people just want to buy into it. NPR isn't getting my money.

Sent by Irineo Funes | 7:18 PM | 6-5-2007

I don't have a problem with Chideya taking him to task. He still hasn't not answered those questions. Listen to every show he has been on and he has spewed the same nonsense. As a matter of fact, in every interview I have heard with Hustle Simmons he has spewed the actual same phrases! Even when he was on the Steve Colbert show! and that's comedy....

Simmons has made some bold claims in the last several years. I preferred him when he was admitting that he loved to date several women at the same time, loved to make money, and loved to party. He is doing the same thing today but talking out of the side of his mouth.

He did not discover EMinem or 50 so he needs to stop claiming it as if he did. Public Enemy and the BEastie Boys were discovered and signed by Rick Rubin. As a matter of fact, he passed up Eminem AND Nas.

Sent by Brother Omi | 8:38 PM | 6-5-2007

one more thing.. a young lady called and asked about a mix tape for the babies. I got one better. Here are some albums that are great to play around the babies:

http://selfra.blogspot.com/2007/04/manny-infinity-at-old-er-camp-in-early.html

Sent by Brother Omi | 8:40 PM | 6-5-2007

boy did russ punk farayi ... i as a fellow journalist was really disappointed that farayi allowed russell's profanity laced rant to force her to do what he wanted ... promote his book. i've interviewed russell when i worked for a bet nightly news(no longer on the air.) he was texting and answering the phone and trying to promote his rush card or whatever other thing he was pushing.. but i did not allow him to just promote his latest sceam... even when he became angry. but there was one good thing that came out of the interview.. it showed he is nothing more than a money hungry hypocrite. (boy i wish you could have asked him more about his new diamond sceam.

Sent by ernest champell ( as in shampoo) | 3:21 AM | 6-6-2007

Blowhards can still be right sometimes, but they're still blowhards. Russell Simmons is a blowhard. He didn't call Farai a bitch or a ho, but he dissed her again and again. He was comfortable enough doing it that it seemed to be a habit.

I think Farai should have gently insisted on being treated better by this bigheaded man. That would have been the most direct way to deal with the issue of misogyny. Demand a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Sent by Albert Harum-Alvarez | 8:03 AM | 6-6-2007

What I noticed, as I notice constantly in my business life, is that Russell Simmons was not listening and would barely let Ferai speak. Ferai could barely get her questions out as he continued to talk over her and continue to make assumptions about what it was she was about to say. This behavior is in complete opposition to the 'love more' road that he insists he's walking on.

Sent by Kitty | 1:50 PM | 6-6-2007

Hey, it's Farai here.

I love all of your comments and will respond more at length.

But I just want to make one thing clear: I knew I was being called out as "inauthentic" (i.e., not hip hop enough) and insulted, etc. But one of the great lessons you learn as an interviewer is that you get much better material if you listen to the person you're talking to than if you try to defend yourself.

The phrase "hoisted on his own petard" comes to mind...

;-)

F

Sent by farai | 4:42 PM | 6-6-2007

Glib. Shallow sense of charm. Sudden angry outbursts. Excuses for bad behavior (I don't make the music, I'm just the marketer). Hmmm, they talk about this on, "Law and Order", now what was that diagnosis again...

Sent by vosh | 9:36 PM | 6-6-2007

I enjoyed the interview.Althought it became a bit heated, I can empathize with Simmons notion of wanting to talk about his book. I would hope that he is invited back to be a guest. His views require more time to get into the meat of the issues. One can atlest say that he is a stong supporter of a few causes such as equal rights and blood dimonds which do not garnish the main line press offten. It was refreshing to hear someone speak with such passion to important topics from the African American perspective

Sent by P.Williams | 8:16 PM | 6-7-2007

I am so happy that Farai called Simmons' out on the issue of language in the music he so openly promotes and how that music influences children. It is so easy for everyone to say that this is the world we live in while failing to see the world we live in is one we create! Simmons said it all when he said he was a businessman. Children are consisitently exploited and abused with very few people who are willing to be a voice for them. I am one of those people and quite frankly, I am incensed at Simmons' lack of insight and compassion. Giving money to the "poor" is not influencing children in slums for a better life. Get real. I have not read the book yet - you can bet I will - but I would just bet that Simmons' refers to my favorite Ghandi qoute: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Sickening. Fight the good fight Farai!

Sent by Amy | 1:12 PM | 6-8-2007

We all must understand one thing first and foremost, this interview was supposed to be about Mr Simmons book. Taking that into account, I think a lot of people would benefit themselves if they would sit back and listen to an individual as succesful as Mr. Simmons. He is a maverick with vision and passion about the things that he feels he wants to bring to the masses. I think a lot of people should closely listen to the part of the interview where Miss Farai gives up a "buisness proposal" to Mr Simmons about making clean mix tapes for our upcoming youth. Pay close attention to his response. He states that that is not his passion, and that his buisness ventures are based on his passion and not the ideas of others. Could this possibly be the source of his success? Could this possibly be the source of his conviction? I think more of the urban people of america should sit back and take note and study the proven success of individuals such as Russel Simmons, instead of trying to find some kind of problem with that success. It is so easy to critisize others and so hard to look inward and critisize ourselves. That being said, I feel Mr Simmons is an asset to black America more than people want to give him credit for. Dont hate everybody, participate.

Sent by D Chinn | 12:12 AM | 6-9-2007

Three things:

First, Farai's line of questioning was perfectly appropriate. It's true that he was there to promote his book, but all she did was probe him a bit to see how he reconciled the peaceful, positive themes of his book with themes that are antithetical to that that you find in most commercial hip hop, which he has some responsibility for.

Second, it's very telling that one of his fondest memories was of a time that he introduced a business executive to hip hop's commercializability at the Run DMC concert.

Third, he's either being very dishonest or extremely naive to suggest that the misogynistic and self-debasing element in hip hop is simply a genuine expression of the artist's personal experiences. Most artists aren't doing social commentary and aren't giving any realistic insight into what goes on "in the hood". They are glorifying and over-exaggerating and trying to pass it off as real.

Sent by T. Smith | 11:30 AM | 6-11-2007

My name is Tyrone James of jackson, MS and i was very impressed with the interview and what Russell said about meditation and inner peace because I myself practices this with a higher principal that any yoga or kabala can teach you( doctrines of christianity). I am also a very creative person and I challenge Russell if he is such a creative person I have a patented revolutionary device that will change the movie industry and I challenge him to take the time and hear this concept and look ten years in the future and see how big this is. For further information my email is tfjames@hotmail.com

Sent by Tyrone James | 11:55 AM | 6-11-2007

RUSSELL SIMMONS IS NOT HIP HOP!!! JUNE 12th 2007

Dear Russell:
Here is a new flash, as quiet as its been kept YOU ARE NOT HIP-HOP!
You didn???t know? Many of us have this conversation about you and others in the industry like you every day. The industry who has pimped hip-hop culture so the chosen few of you can live in a MTV crib, wear Iceberg jeans, Phat Farm sweaters, and Sean John fur coats, much of which I???m sure are made in sweatshops by Black and Brown children who earn an average of .75 cents a day and we can not forget about the ???Bling-Bling??? diamonds that are mined by South African workers who???s life expectancy is

"Russell, as quiet as its been kept YOU ARE NOT HIP-HOP!"

You promote rappers not hip-hop, you must have forgotten or maybe you never knew, Hip-Hop culture is compromised of five elements:
The DJ???s
The Lyricist???s
The Graffiti artists
The Break-dancers
Knowledge

"Russell, as quiet as its been kept YOU ARE NOT HIP-HOP!"

So I read you are putting together a "Hip-Hop" summit which includes David Mays, publisher of The Source, a magazine that is 60% advertising, and much of the advertising totally denigrates Black and Latina women, and the Reverend Al Sharpton? Am I missing something, when did Rev. Al become hip-hop? Oh, I remember, it was when he went to Cuba and said he wanted to bring rappers to Cuba, but please lets not get it twisted hip-hop is part of youth culture and for over 6 years the International Youth Festival has its base rooted in Hip-Hop culture been in Cuba for. Well when you have this next Hip-Hop summit maybe it will actually include those in the Hip-Hop generation, youth, women and Latino???s and this time skip Harvard, come to Harlem.

Russell, you say rappers and hip-hop executives have closed ranks against Minister Conrad Muhammad, so what if they have? Hell "Hip-Hop" executives, those who wish to make a profit of our culture have closed ranks against the Hip-Hop generation. Where we all of you when the Hip-Hop community united over the issue of AIDS, APARTHIED, POLICE BRUTALITY, GUN VIOLENCE, and the BOMBING OF VIEQUES, PUERTO RICO? Yes, I remember where you were; you were having those fundraisers for Senator Hillary Clinton, Former President Bill Clinton, and having your summer Hampton party???s hob-knobbing with the likes of Donald Trump and Martha Stewart. How many fundraisers have you heard for the numerous of grassroots organizations? Let me name a few in case you don???t know who they are:

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Youth Force, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Sista 2 Sista, El Puente Youth Academy, Prison Moratorium Project. All those organizations work around issues such as political prisoners, the Rockefeller Drug Laws, The Prison Industrial Complex, Police Brutality, Violence against women, the AIDS epidemic in our community etc???. Give me a call and I will help set up the meeting so you can meet them. Instead of hosting one of your many fundraisers for white elected officials, why don???t you host a fundraiser or better yet attend one of the many events and mobilizations that these Black and Latino/a youth organize.

"Russell, as quiet as its been kept YOU ARE NOT HIP-HOP!"

THIS IS HIP-HOP
# The Annual Black August concert, which is a celebration of Hip-Hop and Freedom Fighters
# The International Cuban Hip-Hop Festival
# Stress magazine
# The Universal Zulu Nation
# Rock Steady Crew
# Dead Prez---who???s album "Lets Get Free" has been called a poetic 10-point program for our generation
# Mos Def and Talib Kweli helping to raise the Nikru Cultural Education Center in Brooklyn
# Common???s support of many political exiles such as Assata Shakur
# The Wu-Tang Clan???s recent trip to Albany with over 2000 young Black and Latino???s who rallied to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Russell, it is my belief that the images that you and your peers help to promote are the images that allow law enforcement to criminalize the Hip-Hop generation, the images you create allow for 10 year children to use the word Nigga, Bitch, Ho, Chickenhead, Dog, as frequently as they say "What???s Up?"

The images many music industry people promote allow for the sexual exploitation of our women, the murder of our young men at the hands of police, and ultimately the images you and your peers promote are why our youth are filling up prisons in record numbers. As recently as last week these images that have been created have not allowed police to focus their attention on "Rappers."

"Russell, as quiet as its been kept YOU ARE NOT HIP-HOP!"

You may be correct when you state that Minster Conrad Muhammad???s words "Will not endear him to the rap community," but guess what? It will allow those of us who love Hip-Hop culture to begin to come together, discuss, debate and come up with proactive solutions. Minister Muhammad???s words have the potential and power to serve as a catalyst for the Hip-Hop community who love and breath real Hip-Hop. We who need the Afrika Bambaataas???, Public Enemys???, Sister Souljahs???, KRS-ONE???s, The Rock Steady Crews, The Bobbitos???, The Tony Touchs???, The Stress Magazines???, The Dead Prezs???, Queen Godis???, Welfare Poets and the many Graff artists and breakdancers who speak truth to power. These Hip-Hop artists are not in it for the money, the bling-bling or the $350 bottle of Cristal. They don???t want the fancy cars; fur coats nor the mansions; they just to contribute to the greater good of the community. What do you want?

So in closing, I hope you read these words carefully, yes I have chosen to blow up your spot, I am not keeping yours, P-Diddy???s or Sylvia Rhones secret anymore, you are not HIP-HOP, we the people are HIP-HOP!

written by
Rosa Clemente

Sent by Rosa Clemnete | 2:52 PM | 6-11-2007

Mr. Simmons enjoys taking credit for his role in the proliferation of Hip Hop; however, he refuses to own up to his share in the responsibility for what Hip Hop has become. Run DMC is not the only act Def Jam has ever signed!

Sent by J. Wilson | 4:14 PM | 6-11-2007

Well Done interview. Your job as an Interviewer is to give "EXPOSURE" and I think Russell has been "EXPOSED" for what he is. I believe the next time you have a label head Spreading "peace and Love" you may want to ask them "How many Peace and Love artist does he have signed to LABEL!

Sent by Nick Mitchell | 8:47 PM | 6-11-2007

Farai, I certainly hope you read this...
Since we are going to talk about interviewing and questioning, let's flip the perspective of the lens to get a different point of view...
Here this guy is coming to talk about his book. Now, is he going to be questioned about the nature of Hip Hop? Sure. That kinda comes with the territory.
But here he is with a book talking about empowerment and positivity, and then the interview switches to talk about your experiences back in the day with Hip Hop and the hopes for your niece...
Touching for it's personal relavance, but completley missing the point.
We can go on all day talkin about the negative aspects of Hip Hop, but I would be mad just like him if I came to talk about my book about empowerment and all people seem to focus on is the negative aspects of an art form I promote.
Does he bear some responsibility? Sure.
But he, nor could anybody honestly, turn Hip Hop back to the state it was in 20 years ago.
And then pitching a business proposal for a "clean mixtape"?
What?!
We all have our issues with the music, and I'm sure he does too.
But the reality is, our world is fucked up. We talk a lot of the influence Hip Hop has on the world, BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Do you think that the misogyny that goes on in people's households stemmed from Hip Hop? The sexuality and such we see in television and movies come from Hip Hop? We can sit here all day and compare and contrast the times we live in, but here is the reality: Our society is fascinated by sex and violence. Always has been.
And when you can package it and sell it, you put in more sex and more violence and more of it sells.
And that's when you have "Rap" and you have "Hip Hop".
But on the real Farai, I'm disappointed that you would try to paint this as an "exposure". I look at this more as an underdeveloped portrait.
You barely seem to make an attempt to make him look any better. You're putting these other blogs out which still defame his character and will probably now make him less likely to sell his book. Now all people seem to be asking is how credible could he be now that he got angry?...
That's a shame Farai.
I guess in the face of contradiction, everyone's hypocrasies come out don't they?
:-)

Sent by Yohance | 4:59 AM | 6-12-2007

Whether or not the line of questioning was appropriate is debatable. I have a problem with how rude he was.
If an unknown author came to an interview to promote his/her book about inner peace and positivity but acted the way Russell S. did, no one would take that person seriously.
Business savvy, popularity and fund raising for just causes, gives no one the right to be rude, dismissive and belittling.
He gets no sympathy from me.

Sent by J. | 2:53 PM | 6-12-2007

Dear Farai, I just met Mr. Simmons at a booksigning here in Miami, and wrote about it on my website, Afrobella.com. I think you handled this discussion admirably, and many valid points were made. I'll be listening to your hip hop series -- please help me discover some underground female MCs I can get into! I'm on the look out for the kind of lyricism that peaked in the Nineties.

Sent by Afrobella | 11:19 PM | 6-12-2007

Hey, it's Farai...

EUR Web mentioned us today... thanks! And so that means more folks here and more conversation.

I can't acknowledge everyone, but I appreciate everyone's point of view (even when I disagree).

[Afrobella--I think you'll enjoy the conversation developing in the main post about Monie Love et al.]

I will say one thing: journalism is not about making people look good OR bad. It's about asking questions and getting answers. Real answers.

And if you don't get them, you keep asking.

One example is our story today on a tenure fight at MIT. We didn't get some answers until after the interview. We put that information (from the Univeristy communications department) in what we call the backannounce, or the acknowledgement of the guest and any supplemental information.

We just kept asking, even if it didn't seem polite.

But we asked politely.

That's journalism.

Sent by Farai | 1:32 AM | 6-13-2007

Farai's question about "right livelihood" was right on. For someone supposedly working on their spiritual education, it seems completely lost on Russell Simmons that he will have to atone for the fact that his extraordinary wealth has been gained at the expense of others.

Sent by Emily Eisenhauer | 5:57 PM | 6-16-2007

I can't believe Russel represents hip hop. You might as well have a white or asian be the godfather of RAP.

Sent by lowtech | 1:58 PM | 9-8-2007

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