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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Veteran music journalist with 20+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, & B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Russell Simmons On "Doing You"
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

He is an icon. There’s no other way to describe Russell Simmons and his 25 plus year career as an entrepreneur that has included the founding of Def Jam Records, Phat Farm clothing, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, and numerous philanthropic organizations. Simmons released his latest book, Do You: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, this week, and I sat down with him to talk about the book, as well as his thoughts on the 2008 election, and why he sees rappers as being more charitable than a lot of politicians.

Adam Bernard: You just came out with another book, Do You: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success, talk to me about it.
Russell Simmons: Yeah, I’m excited. Oprah Winfrey told me to change the title to Do You a month ago and I told the publisher. He went home from the golf course and burned all the books. I’m serious. It was a good title she gave us, though, Do You. It was called 12 Laws of Success, but then she liked the third chapter so much and I said you know it really is about your inner voice so Do You is really the theme of the book. I think there’s nothing in the book new, it’s the same shit from The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, the Buddhist scripture. I’m talking about the same stuff. I got it from the Yoga Sutras for the most part, or from the Bhagavad Gita, but it’s the same. A Christian reverend, he says the same shit as me every day. So I think when you understand scripture translated properly the laws are unbreakable and are exactly the same.

Adam Bernard: So you’re basically rewording things so people can understand them a little better.
Russell Simmons: Here’s the thing, if you don’t know what I’m talking about then I made it up, but nothing in this book comes from me, it all comes from God. The laws are unbreakable, it’s common sense. People have to learn to have faith and resilience and to put their head down and value the work more than they value the prize because the prize is not the toy, the prize is the work itself. You could use these laws and acquire junk, but the real secret is how do you become happy and that comes only when you have an intention to acquire things that inspire others or lift people up, and not for a minute but for a long time. Stable lasting happiness is what you want to give people. This obvious shit is said over and over and over again by everybody and heard by everybody, but not adhered to by most people.

Adam Bernard: Why do you feel more people don’t get it?
Russell Simmons: Because they don’t have faith. God realization comes from clarity, complete focus. Complete concentration slows the world down to a standstill where you can see God’s work everywhere, but instead of doing all the things that promote that clarity you get high. What does getting high do? It makes you feel euphoric, like as if you were some realized or enlightened being, the world slows down, only it’s not from clarity it’s from a dull perception. The Yoga, they say Christ consciousness, or Nirvana, comes from stopping the mind from the noise. The noise is all the shortcuts and stuff that separates, it’s the rethinking of what you already know. That’s why you gotta slow the noise down so you can see it.

Adam Bernard: What are your hopes for the book?
Russell Simmons: I hope that people get something out of it. They say “what about a revolution?” I say all the revolution in the world will never amount to anything unless there is revolution in the state of consciousness amongst people, so if I can promote a little bit of consciousness and lift people up one degree then I did something.

Adam Bernard: Do you have a specific audience you’re looking to have pick this book up?
Russell Simmons: Well you know it’s for Jinx Da Juvy, the rapper that just left my office. He just stopped using his crutches, now he got a cane. He was shot up, he’s been through shit, that’s like my son, I see him growing, I see the fact that me spending time with Jinx made a difference in his life, me working with him matters. If I can get more people to be like Jinx, if this book can inspire more people to change their lives in the ways I’ve seen Jinx change his then that’s what it is, it’s about that.

Adam Bernard: It’s no secret that you’ve been getting more and more involved with politics over the years. Have you decided who you’re going to support in ‘08, and if yes what about that person makes him someone you’d like to see be the next president?
Russell Simmons: I like Dennis Kucinich, how bout that? If you were black you’d have to like him and if you were interested in preserving mother earth you would like him, and if you were interested in fighting poverty you would like him. If you were interested in practicing a different relationship with not only mother earth but all of the species on it, as a vegan, like him, you’d like him. If you’re interesting in lifting the planet up and having a higher consciousness you’d like him. No one else knows about him, but I’m just making a point. So I like (John) Edwards talking about poverty. I don’t think (Barack) Obama’s bad, and I don’t think Hillary (Clinton) is bad. I think all of them are good. I’m gonna meet with (John) McCain, I like what he said about freedom of speech one time when Hillary was listening to the polls and attacking rap. I listen to all of them, but I want somebody to promote fighting poverty worldwide. If you do that you’re promoting unity instead of war. Let’s promote something better. In terms of the cycle of violence that we promote and are a part of, can we reverse it? Can we slow it down? Can we create relationships with people that lift them up and they in turn support us? There are a lot of questions here about the political agenda of the rich versus the poor. They don’t do it on purpose, they just end up getting their own tax breaks. They’re only gonna help some people when they get a tax break. You can’t figure that out but they say it.

Adam Bernard: What are the chances you'd ever consider running for public office?
Russell Simmons: I can’t run for shit. I have a horrible background. All the drugs I took, the shit I did.

Adam Bernard: Every nominee for president now seems to have some sort of a past.
Russell Simmons: Every nominee for president has been high, that’s true. I don’t know if I’d be good in politics, but I know that I like supporting those who are lifting people up, I think that should be my mantra, I’m going to try to keep it at the front of my agenda.

Adam Bernard: No interview with you is complete without at least one Hip-Hop related question. A lot of folks would like to have people believe Hip-Hop is dead. I’m not one of those people, so hit me with some of the things going on in Hip-Hop that you’re digging, or that are inspiring to you, right now.
Russell Simmons: What I like about Hip-Hop, I like Eminem’s Shady charity, I like 50 Cent’s G-Unity, I like Chingy for Change, I like Nelly’s Fo Sho 4 Kids, I like the Ludacris Foundation, I like Daddy’s House, I like the Sean Carter Foundation, I like our Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, I like our Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, I like our Diamond Empowerment Fund, I like our Happy Hearts Foundation, I said ours but I like everybody else’s too. There are so many examples of good citizenship. For instance if you name a rapper I’ll tell you the name of his charity, if you name a politician I can’t tell you the name of their charity.

Adam Bernard: That’s pretty telling.
Russell Simmons: That’s the point, right? It’s telling. You name one of these poets and you hear a consciousness or awareness of the suffering in people in their communities and around the world. You don’t hear that from the politicians, you hear this irrational ideology that explains why we hurt people and why we abuse the planet and take advantage of its resources. We hear that constantly and there’s a lot of fear being expressed by a lot of people, but in rap you hear a lot of truth. So I’m not saying that they’re perfect, rappers are examples of how imperfect we are, but we still love em and we still know that they’re more conscious than their competitors.

Do You is currently available in bookstores everywhere.

Labels: ,

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:40 AM  
  • At 9:28 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thank you Mr. Simmons! I've been getting into reading B. Gita, how to meditate to clear the noise and think clearly and listen to what's inside and I found that all of what you've said and what O.Winfrey has said and others, God is in us all. A lot of times we don't hear him because of the noise. There are hundreds of these types of books and of course the Bible, et al. We are all a part of each other. Let's all of us try harder to help each other, love each other, uplift each other. Let's all of us 'Do You'! Thank you!!

  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger Lokeye said…

    Dope!! I've been pursuing rap/production for the last 10 years, and I've also been pursuing the Advaita Vedanta version of "enlightenment". It's amazing to see a role model figure be as passionate about those two hobbys as I am.

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