Russell Simmons Is Born: Oct. 4 in Hip-Hop History
On this day in hip-hop history, Russell Simmons celebrates his birthday, while albums by Paris, Ultramagnetic MCs and Lucas were released.
1988: Ultramagnetic MCs drops the influential Critical Beatdown
Originally formed in the Bronx as a breakdancing crew, Ultramagnetic MCs eventually branched out into rapping. With a few singles, including the classic "Ego Trippin'" to their name, they put out their debut, Critical Beatdown. The record, while not particularly commercially successful, became an underground classic thanks to Kool Keith's fast, innovative flow and, perhaps more significantly, Ced-Gee's production. His command of the E-mu SP-12 allowed him to create beats by chopping up and manipulating samples, a style that would prove influential over the next few years.
1994: Lucas arrives from Denmark with Lucacentric
Danish musician Lucas Secon, who used only his first name in his rap career, released the second of his two albums, Lucacentric, in 1994. He reached the Top 30 with the self-referential single "Lucas With the Lid Off." The song's success was aided by a video directed by future Academy Award winner Michel Gondry that was filmed in one long take, with no edits made. Since then, he's written and produce tracks for the likes of Toni Braxton, Christina Aguilera and Jordin Sparks.
1994: Paris releases Guerilla Funk
The controversy surrounding 1992's Sleeping With the Enemy -- its artwork and one song fantasized about killing then-President George H.W. Bush -- found Paris dropped by Tommy Boy because Warner Bros. refused to distribute it. Paris, who has an economics degree from the University of California-Davis, then created his own label, Scarface Records, and signed a distribution deal with Priority. Two years later, Guerilla Funk arrived. While the record didn't contain any songs about killing the president, Paris continued expressing his radical political views, although in 2002, he told the A.V. Club that he "really could care less about politics."
"[I]t's more socially relevant than political," he said. "I think it ends up transcending into politics, but for me, it's all about just making records that I feel comfortable with, that I won't be embarrassed by later. So, if I'm going to do it and I know about certain things that other people might not necessarily know, and I'm party and witness to injustices that have occurred, then I'll want to speak about them."
1957: Russell Simmons is born
Russell Simmons created the blueprint for the hip-hop entrepreneur when he founded Def Jam Recordings with Rick Rubin in 1983. Since then, he's branched out into film and television production, clothing and lifestyle brands, and philanthropy. But beginning in November 2017, numerous women came forward, claiming that he sexually harassed, assaulted or raped them. Although Simmons has denied every charge, he admitted to being "thoughtless and insensitive" in past relationships, and stepped down from his numerous businesses to "commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening."