A good number of you guys will be turned off from reading this post by the picture next to it. I cannot say that I blame you. Most of you are a little too young to know the story of Russell Simmons and how well it ties into modern day Wall Street lore. As someone who witnessed the evolution of Wall Street into its modern visage, I see many similarities between the street and hip hop.
In the words Biggie (echoed later in Boiler Room ): either you're slinging crack rock or ya gotta wicked jump shot...interpret at your own whim...
Russell Simmons is a bankster,the masturbatory manifestation of all the evils attributed to Wall Street and it's slick haired, slick suited, sell-side peddlers. He lives and breathes the same excesses and manipulations. Except he manages to one up everyone. He manages to pull off the brazen backhanded arrogance of high finance, while grandstanding like a politician or savior. I would argue that the key difference between Russell and Wall Street is that even in its worst hour the BBs at least make money for some of their clients. Simmons on the other hand, is squeezing pennies out of people for whom a quarter is a big deal.
His newest rendition of how to build a billion the Def Jam way, is called the Rush Card. It is a grimy and greasy tactical approach which purports to empower, but (in reality) robs those who can least afford to be taken for an extra buck or two.
I have to admit that I have a personal stake in shining the light on this charlatan. A man who has been selling dreams and delusions to the inner city for over a quarter century. Growing up in NYC I saw Russell rise from floor to ceiling. I admit to feeling a sense of pride at the time. I even felt like a contributor by buying early Run-DMC and Beastie Boys albums. But years have passed and hip hop is no longer a movement or a culture. It has morphed into a nouveau minstrel show that I actively seek to ignore. Today, I watch one of the founders of the genre portraying Robin Hood while he is actually robbin' the 'hood.
We are so afraid to address issues that could even be construed as having a racial tinge these days, that we let people get away with legal, but highly immoral activities...as long as they are part of certain groups.
Russell Simmons (in his own way) is doing very subtly to the Black community via this card, what unscrupulous bankers and con artist mortgage brokers did to retail investors and municipalities with Mortgage Backed Securities not more than a decade ago. He is bleeding the community which gave him his lifeblood and not only is he not being punished, he is being celebrated.
Have a peek at his commentary and compare it with the evidence laid out by Farnoosh Torabi in the link provided above. In case you don't agree with my view, then you too can learn to hustle, like Russell.