hip hop music

January 6, 2004

Russell Simmons, Politics and Yoga

Tight piece, and perfect timing since I'm in the middle of writing another post about hip-hop and politics:

Compa$$ionate Capitali$m

Russell $immons wants to fatten the hip-hop vote—and maybe his wallet, too

...Simmons has spent his life enumerating the ways that hip-hop's energy can be converted into dollars. Now he's trying to convert that energy into a social movement capable of reinvigorating the slumbering black left. A kingmaker in the making, Simmons has given money to all the presidential candidates except John Edwards and Joe Lieberman. While he is a nominal supporter of Al Sharpton, he confesses an affinity for Howard Dean. It's hard to think of a better ally for the governor of ivory-white Vermont than young black America's most formidable potentate. At 45, Simmons is the patriarch of a generation that couldn't pick Julian Bond out of a police lineup.

But for Simmons, the road from Wall Street to K Street has proven to be a slow one-laner fraught with potholes—hard going for a guy who has always lived like a Jaguar speeding down the autobahn. The goals of HSAN are far-reaching and wide-eyed with ambition. The only in-house organizing experience belongs to Chavis, who's as respected for organizing the Million Man March as he is derided for driving the NAACP into debt.

Simmons's value as an activist hasn't yet been proved. After all, hip-hop's idea of social justice seems to begin with the unabridged right to bling. But his approach isn't without merit: If the people care only about Bennifer, then let's bring Bennifer—not Lil Flip's big brother—and hope the people will follow...

Posted by jsmooth995 at January 6, 2004 5:58 PM

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