October 25, 2003
I've been following Russell Simmons' political ambitions for over a year now, and it seems like his self-promotion campaign has kicked into high gear in the last few weeks. Either he's trying to take Rush Communications public or he's planning to formally enter politics in the next few months.
The latest evidence of the Rush Awareness Campaign is the twin magazine covers at last week's BusinessWeek issue and the November issue of Fast Company. Though there have been glowing profiles of the man popping up for years now, the amazing consistency of the stories is striking. The same hat topping virtually the same outfit on the cover shots, prominent Phat Farm logos,and the insistent message that "traditional" executives have a lot to learn from his success.
Even the stories read as if they came from the same press agent's stamp, full of anecdotes that are only revelatory if you've been completely obivious to the existence of hip hop culture in the two decades since it became a major cultural force. Aside from those unsurprising staples ("He's a hands-off manager! Even rich white people like him!") the stories resonate with me because we've never had anyone from hip hop culture be seen as anything other than a novelty entrepreneur.
The question now, of course, is "What Next?" This sort of press campaign doesn't happen by accident, and the appeal of someone with unimpeachable credentials in the rap world who's also a nominal Buddhist and has the ear of everyone from Hillary Clinton to Ludacris is undeniable. The options seem to be politics or commerce, and I'm fascinated to see which he chooses.