Arguably one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurial figures of the late 20th century and beyond, Russell Simmons rose to prominence as co-founder of the legendary Def Jam Records, which helped to introduce hip-hop music to mainstream culture through such landmark rap acts as Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Public Enemy. But Simmons' vision extended far beyond the music business, and he soon parlayed the financial returns from his label into film and television production, including the popular "Def Comedy Jam" (HBO, 1992-97, 2006-08) series and Eddie Murphy's "Nutty Professor" (1996) remake, as well as his own fashion line, Phat Farm. These and other ventures helped to make Simmons one of the wealthiest figures in the music business, with a net worth of $340 million by 2011. Simmons would later parlay his gains into numerous charitable organizations while continuing to maintain a hand in entertainment through film and television production. Throughout his storied career, Simmons emphasized the importance of hip-hop as a unifying force that transcended race, class and circumstance, which in turn fueled both his personal and business philosophies. His extraordinary list of accomplishments helped to make Russell Simmons a major figure in the business, entertainment and philanthropic worlds.