Russell Simmons’ Letter To Kanye West

It’s been a pretty hectic week for Kanye West. And yesterday, Russell Simmons retreated to his site and penned a letter in support for Mr. West. As always, Uncle Rush knows best.

Dear Kanye,

I have early recollections of Damon Dash calling me and forcing me to put you on Def Poetry Jam.  I knew your record, “Through The Wire”, but I didn’t know much more.  When you took the stage on Def Poetry Jam that night, and spit those genuine, heartfelt words, I witnessed your specialness that Damon had emphatically told me about.

From that moment on, you became a poet who has inspired the poets.  I have proudly watched your career since then, and in case someone has missed the obvious, you are making a historical impact on music.  Your life story took a tough turn with the passing of your mother.  Although we grieved with you, we never really knew how much pain you were in.  We witnessed your moment at the MTV Music Awards and many of us dismissed it as, “oh that is just Kanye being Kanye.” The hard part of all of this, is that we have all had moments in our lives that have been challenging, painful and hard to overcome, however most of us just hide our emotions and never deal with that inner-struggle that we face on a daily basis.  As an artist, Kanye, you have always looked inside for your inspiration…always exuding emotions that are in us, but that we never expose.  That is what artistry is about…to look inside for what is unique.  With your journey towards a higher level of consciousness, a journey that we all are on, you have shown through your art a commitment to greatness.

The thirty minute film you most recently made was beyond brilliant.  Brilliance is not a word that can even begin to describe your ability to paint vibrant, vivacious, colorful yet muted paintings of poetry, music, costume, art, design and most important, passion.  The passion you put into your new album is why I stayed up all those nights in the early 80’s trying to get DJs and radio stations to play our records.  I knew this day would come. Actually, maybe I didn’t know, but I really, really hoped it would.  I didn’t work this hard when I was your age to watch the culture go the wrong way.  And you, my friend, just took us to another level.  I am simply in awe.

With this power, as you know, comes great responsibility.  I am saying nothing you haven’t heard before. When you spoke about President Bush during the Katrina telethon, it was not the particulars of your words that mattered, it was the essence of a feeling of the insensitivity towards our communities that many of us have felt for far too long.  It was the image of the President, our President, the President of the United States Of America, peering out the window of an airplane, as the people on the ground were drowning, that hurt us the most.  For centuries, our people have relentlessly tread water as hard as they could to stay afloat, and here we were, literally drowning, and it felt like the President was insensitive. There is no need to apologize, Kanye.  You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you.  Don’t be afraid of the press, as your art is your blueprint, thanks to Jay-Z, your big brother, we will always carry our destiny in our own hands. You are are an artist whose art is masterful.  You are a servant to this world who no matter how hard it gets, keeps on giving.  Giving gifts that inspire us, challenge us and motivate us to be better family and friends.

Keep on, Kanye.  Keep on.  We love you.  We cherish you.  And we will always have your back.

-Russell Simmons

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  • russel simmons and whole simmons family have souls the music industry doesnt….. push hard everyday threw up and downs and adversity will pay off someday then homage is what they have to get you cause you paid your own way…


  • Living Life

    I cant even read this because of AMber eye WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • That is some thought provoking shit right there, Uncle Russ

  • Can

    pretty far cry away from this, haha, as great as it is.

    But Russell’s letter is really beautiful. I agree totally.

  • ZoomZoom

    I think the Simmons family is a perfect family for real

  • Living Life

    After reading this i have to say it was nice

  • flyrah


  • stabes710

    > As always, Uncle Rush knows best….

    Really?? The man some now call Blood Diamond Russ and question the motives behind his Rush Debit Card??

    Honestly, Kanye was right when he made his initial statement and he was right to show contrition last week on Matt Lauer (whose entire interview, not just the part when he played the audio bed, was a sandbag exercise IMHO).

    Bush knows what he is in his heart and Kanye only gave voice to what is obvious to most right and just-thinking people. That being said, there is nothing wrong with him now choosing another way, a path of positivity and forgiveness. It shows maturity and his life will be the better for it. Bush on the other hand has a few more lessons in life to learn if he thinks his little book memoir is going to clear his reputation or set the record straight as far his history goes.

  • damn

    damn wtf is up with ambers eyes

  • Devil

    LMAO Amber is holding Kanye like if it was her kid.

  • Belize

    That’s a real nice, supportive letter, Russel. It prolly made Kanye’s day.
    Only it almost sounds like an obituary.

  • Post no billz

    This was a good read..

  • cmosa

    Although I don’t understand why considerably less substantial comments do not get moderated as mine have, I will take it as a sign to leave more thoughtful posts, or not to comment at all. I greatly appreciate what I’ve been exposed to through this blog, thanks RR staff. In regards to the actual subject of this post.. I think Matt Lauer was absolutely in the wrong on the Today Show, provoking Kanye as if he was a bush staffer himself. Definitely feeling everything Russell spoke on in his post, glad he spoke up.

  • still best rite now!!

    fuck Russell for not supporting Mike Vick!! politic’n azz

  • CTE

    Dam i thought yeezy was imature for saying that shit but like simmon said thats who and yeah he is an asshole and he is aware of it but who want him to be bottle up i want him to stay raw and say the things what are really on everybody mind

  • Keith

    This made me tear up. Kanye! Kanye!



    kanye is fascinating

    he’s also one of the most sensitive and self-conscious artists to ever be in the public eye

    which is why its such a treat to watch him do his thing

    i hope he keeps puttin it all out there and growing and learnings to love himself more and more

    (without being too arrogant and self-obsessed)

    love ye



  • jo

    Wow. Simply amazing.

  • j.

    this is what i would wanna tell yeezy if i could

  • NuJew



    but good letter


    yeezy taught me.. hahahah .. thats exactly what he was talkin bout .. he done elevated that bitch to heights she cant maintain wit out um .. YEEZEY TAUGHT ME

  • Letter translation: We here at Def Jam will secretly buy 750,000 copies of your album in the first week, just so you can beat Taylor once and for all. Oh…and buck fush!

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  • iam2smooth

    Cosign @j.!

    seriously those were the words kanye needed nd comin from uncle Russ made them so much meaningful!

    I can honestly say the way Kanye express his emotion nd passion thru his craft is wat attracts me 2 him.. Because I kno there will never be a dull moment like he’s so unpredictable nd full of creativity.

    All nd all ye keep doin u nd makin G.O.O.D MUSIK nd ull always have ah fan in me :)!

  • dll32

    Well put ! +1

  • Drock


  • Yo 2 SouthSide

    Gag gag cough cough choke spit take his balls out your mouth!!! Are we supposed to believe this is genuine?this is a shameless promotion, still fucks with you Russ and Ye you a genius , but this is pointless. Oh yea pause!!

  • Cosign Thank you Uncle Rush aka Godfather of Hiphop
    Im glad somebody up high step up and had Kayne back. While we as fans and hip hop lovers could support only from abroad our voice is like pebbles hitting the water making a small splash. Your voice is the stone that make a big splash. Hip-hop needs Kayne right now to keep pushing the envelope dude is our modern day Mozart.

  • Kanye’s Half Sister

    As Kanye’s Half Sister I approve this letter Uncle Rush!!!!!

  • powww

    good read..

  • D-manded

    amber ahh wtf bitch look like storm from x men goin through keemo

  • hmmm

    if Kanye is out modern day (hiphop)Mozart…the modern day is sooo trash and content with it!!!

  • Gucci Red

    When you are giving an opportunity to use your voice, you don’t sit back in the comfort of your resources. The bible speaks of the ten men of talents. Five burried theirs and couldn’t grow. While five were rewared for sharing theirs. There is historically a system in business and the same applies to the business of entertainment, partically music. These positions come in succession: Gordy, Avant,Simmons, Harrell, Combs, Carter and now West.

  • damn, this was a sentiment of a man giving back to a up and comer that came up off the music that has impacted us all! HIP to the HOP, all the words he used was a tribute to a man that has given us alot in his music…his beats…his lyrics! from nothing to something- the sentiment to survival is surviving….
    Uncle Russ did a vibrant thang jus penning his thoughts from a good place 808 to Ye’s heartbeat when he reads this i know he will be inspired to go further than he has already did…

    the hiphop mike jack, huh…. lol! who else gonna do it? its the ROC bitch
    G.O.O.D. music is definitely…definitely in the building word to life

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  • Word……. Click my name plz it goes into my channel but click on the uploads, If soldierboy can make off a internet video, give only 10 mins of your time if its wack let me know. But I put my heart ,frustation,stress,anger,and Hope. Guys like Jay-z ,Nas,Biggie, Pac,EPMD, Redman,Da Wu,Andre3000,Em dre ,Rakim, Run DMC,Souls of mischief,Kanye West,Common,Tribe called Quest, Ghetto Boys, lil wayne mixtapes, and many more inspired me to spit he way I do ,I can garrentee that I don’t sound like nobody.

  • Shawn

    Nice letter. Nothing we didn’t already know and really public pat on the back, because considering ‘Ye’s personality a private convo conveying the same msg wouldn’t have been suffice.
    And yeah, it was posted on Global Grind so, again, motives are in question.

  • The DEACON

    That’s the gospel right there Amen !

  • Chuck

    As a lifelong fan of HipHop I understand that we take the responsilbilty of respenting portion of the unheard voice in America for the last thirty years. HipHop at its best shows the world how to dance, be outspoken, artistic, socially relevant and business minded, self correcting all while looking good and having fun. This will always be met with some resistence, Kanye made a mistake with the Taylor Swift incident and you know people will use that against him for a long time and try to let that overshadow the real things he has to say. I think uncle Russ felt Kanye needed to hear those words of encouragement from someone he respects and admires.

  • @Big Homie

    I thought it was cool how you hyperlinked a couple of the words as footnote references in the letter, but the actual specific “Def Poetry Jam” performance he was talking about was this one; when Kanye did verses from “All Falls Down”, that was titled “Self-Conscious”.–Self-Conscious-Def-Poetry

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  • Much love to kanye & Russell!! You two along with various other members of the music entertainment industry, give youth as well as people of other ages the will to aspire to be great! I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and with that I am forever grateful

  • Tamika

    Beautifully written. I could not have said it better. I have been a Kanye fan for a long time. I saw Def Poetry, I was watching the telethon. And Kanye said what I wanted to say to everyone about the president. I cried when I heard about his mom. I saw how much live he had/has for her. I watched the MTV awards and was saying the same thing about Taylor Swift. It is like he is my voice. Like Russell said be YOU. Thank you Mr. West & Mr. Simmons

  • enigmaticsoulrg

    excellent letter. well stated. Kanye is great at what he does. Just don’t let the media know that they got you rattled with ill behavior.

  • YMan

    He’s a great artist. Not in question. But why can’t he speak from the heart and explain why he said what he said. They just make him look stupid and he just gets upset. He’s got all the money in the world, take some time and carve out a passionate, political statement. No need for apologies. He’s a brilliant guy. He’s left looking like a punk. He cant just blame the media. Write a statement and actually execute it on TV.

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