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Def Poetry Jam - February 24, 2005

Russell Simmons and Kanye West during Def Poetry Jam in New York City on February 24, 2005. | Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty

Not everybody has decided the artist formerly known as Kanye West is a pariah.

The man who co-founded Def Jam Recordings, the record label that recently cut ties with Ye because of antisemitism, has emerged from self-imposed isolation for his own shunning from society to not only defend the rapper-turned-fashion designer but also to encourage him to mend fences and “move on.”

Russell Simmons, the Hip-Hop legend who’s been credibly accused of rape by multiple women – allegations he’s denied – recently recorded a video of himself musing about Ye’s situation and relating it to his own experience with the sports apparel company Adidas, which on Tuesday ended its lucrative deal with the rapper.

Simmons said he was broadcasting from Bali, where he sought refuge following the rape accusations five years ago.

On brands dropping Ye

Noting that he helped broker a first-of-its-kind deal with Adidas in the mid-1980s for iconic rap group Run-DMC, Simmons suggested it was a “good” thing that Ye no longer had any business obligations with the companies with which he had deals.

“Kanye is getting free from these people,” Simmons said before adding: He don’t need the Gap.”

Simmons said this presents an opportunity for Ye to “make his own everything” with new business partners.

“Now he has no obligations,” Simmons said. “Now he can build all new.”

Simmons predicted: “He’s gonna make more money now than ever.”

On antisemitism

On the topic of antisemitism, Simmons offered a light defense of Ye’s hateful tirades over the last couple of weeks and suggested the media was twisting the rapper’s words.

Ye has been repeatedly sticking to his admitted antisemitic rhetoric, but Simmons insisted he “took back” his hateful words.

“He said ‘I’m jealous of the Jewish community and their power,’” Simmons said while oversimplifying comments Ye made on the controversial “Drink Champs” podcast earlier this month.

Simmons said he was sure that Ye “didn’t mean to hurt anybody” with his antisemitism and encouraged the rapper to “build a bridge between the Black and Jewish community” and find common ground.

“We have common enemies, the blacks and the Jews, and great purpose together, Simmons said. “We have common experiences, and we are joined at the hip in our fight against white supremacy. Don’t let them separate us.”

It was not clear who “them” referred to.

On Ye’s conspiracy theory about George Floyd’s family

Simmons also offered excuses for Ye spreading the widely debunked right-wing conspiracy theory that George Floyd died from fentanyl use and not from convicted murderer and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin using his knee to apply deadly pressure to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, as a medical examiner determined.

“I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” Simmons said of Ye and the lies that resulted in a $250 million civil lawsuit from Floyd’s family.

Simmons pointed out that Ye “gave $2 million to Floyd’s kids” and initiated that Ye can still “do good.”

Simmons said Kanye needs to “grow” and “learn” from this experience.

“The mistakes he’s made he can fix,” Simmons said.

On what’s next for Ye

Simmons said Ye still has a strong backing in the Black community and expressed his pride in the artist.

“We will support you if you build your own,” Simmons vowed. “I personally have a long appreciation for everything you’ve done.”

Simmons again encouraged Ye to take fate into his own hands.

“Build your own, you’re free,” Simmons said. “Make your own shit and then mend your fences, build your bridges, inspire people in your community, hire people in your community, help educate and grow and create good opportunities for people and live out the rest of your life as a superhero. You can do it.”

Simmons may not be the best character reference for Ye

Once a mainstay in pop culture, Simmons has been all but canceled because of the rape allegations and his subsequent flight to Bali, where critics argued he went to escape any criminal culpability.

Simmons has been mounting his own public comeback and just last month announced he partnered with a tech company in Silicon Valley.

It’s possible that this could just be an instance of misery loving company by Simmons making overtures to Ye. After all, they’re both battling cancel culture because of public perception.

Watch Simmons’ full video below.


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