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Too Old To Die Young: Russell Simmons

Too Old To Die Young is a short documentary series showcasing the lives of urban culture’s most legendary characters. This episode focuses on the world of Russell Simmons, one of music’s most successful moguls and a pioneer in bringing hip hop to a broader audience. Mass Appeal, alongside legendary publicist Bill Adler, spent the day following Russell, getting a better sense of his unique understanding and perspective on the world around him.

In the first episode of the new series, media O.G. Ill Bill aka Ill Badler aka Bill Adler catches up with creative entrepreneur Russell Simmons, a founder of Def Jam, Phat Farm, Global Grind, and countless other cutting-edge pop culture brands.

The two first met in 1983 while Adler was researching an article for People magazine about a new style of music coming out of the Bronx known as hip hop. The following year Simmons hired Adler as director of publicity for Def Jam Records and Rush Artist Management.

“It’s hard to describe a typical day cause I don’t have one,” Russell admits in the video. “God knows how many businesses and how many charities and how many social and political causes… so my days aren’t typical.” Case in point: on this particular day Russell takes Adler to a hot yoga class followed by cryotherapy—”you go to minus 300 degrees” Simmons remarks casually—prompting Adler to worry that he might end up “like a goddamn Popsicle.” But Russell talks him into stripping down and stepping into the cryo-tank anyway.

“That’s what age gives you—wisdom,” shares the hip hop legend and former late-night drinker who now touts the virtues of morning meditation. “You’re always moving towards this enlightenment thing.”

Animation by Jenny Scales

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What started as a humble graffiti ‘zine in 1996 would soon grow to be one of the most trusted outlets for youth-spawned urban culture. Today, Mass Appeal is a media collective led by authentic voices and inspired minds. We are a platform for radical creatives who are transforming culture.

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Too Old To Die Young: Russell Simmons


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