Russell Simmons, politico

It'll be interesting to watch this develop.... Russell Simmons has been making moves to enter the political arena for years, having hosted Democratic fundraisers here in Manhattan a few times, and now trying to leverage his pull in the hip-hop industry to get celebrities to participate in community events.

The first significant effort by his Hip Hop Summit Action Network is a small educational funding-cut protest that was attended by Jaz-Z, P. Diddy, Alicia Keys, Chuck D., and Erykah Badu. Russell gets props from me just for getting Jay-Z outta bed that early in the day.

But, in addition to the obvious goal of improving the image of the hip-hop community in the media, I think he's setting us all up for an actual political bid. He's been following (or been followed by) Al Sharpton for more than a year now, including their work together last year on the Hip Hop Summit that gave the Action Network its name. It'll be interesting to see if Rev. Run's brother will be the first to translate success in the Hip Hop Nation to success in the political realm. That's the kind of goal that Simmons' only parallel, Berry Gordy, was never able to, or perhaps never thought to, achieve.

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