Russell Simmons Calls DMX Brilliant & Says His Full Potential Wasn't Reached

Russell Simmons speaks on the effects of entourages, says his past entourage either died or went to jail.

As co-founder of Def Jam, Hip Hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons has worked with a number of artists over the past few decades. While speaking with Hot 97 recently, Simmons revealed that he’s still on good terms with the majority of the artists from Def Jam’s early years.

Before the businessman rattled down the list of artists he still speaks with, he was asked to share his biggest disappointment concerning present-day Def Jam. According to Simmons, his biggest disappointment stems from seeing artists not reaching their full potential at the label. He then named Yonkers rapper DMX as the number one artist who didn’t achieve greatness.

Simmons’ discussion on artists not reaching their full potential later transformed into a conversation on entourages and the negative effects they can sometimes have on artists.

“Things that disappoint me are people that didn’t get to achieve all their greatness in some cases,” Simmons said. “Like I’ve experienced watching brilliant artists not become all they could have been. DMX is the number one I can think of. Cause he was brilliant…He was just amazing. And he said amazing stuff. And he was a great vocalist. And a great artist and a great everything. And, you know, people make choices that make it more difficult for them to continue to be great. And some make choices that make them make it easier to continue to be great. And I’ve seen many people and their entourages destroyed them. And I’ve seen people who have had to shed some of their entourage in order to keep going. My entourage that [I] kinda needed to shed died [or] went to jail.”

Although Simmons did reveal that he still speaks to everyone who was signed to Def Jam while he was active at the label, he specifically mentioned Alyson Williams, Oran “Juice” Jones, Q-Tip, Method Man, and Redman, during his interview with Hot 97.

“Yeah, I fucks with everybody still,” he said. “There's some that made it. And I still love Alyson Williams She made like three or five hits, I don’t know. And Oran ‘Juice’ Jones is my man. I fucks with him on the regular. He sang the dopest songs. [They were] before their time…Some artists became more friendly like my friends. You know? I’m still friends with Q-Tip. Like I still fucks with some of the same people on the regular. I see Redman I just give him a hug. I love him so much. I see Method Man I give him a hug…I don’t have no artists I’m not friends with. Really. None.”

Along with Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons founded Def Jam in the early ‘80s. In addition to his work at Def Jam, Simmons co-produced the 1985 film Krush Groove, has released a handful of books including “Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All,” and is currently an animal and environmental activist.

RELATED: Russell Simmons Calls Kanye West "Genius," Kanye Responds


  • enuffsaid

    Im gonna clear a few things up. X was a brilliant artist and offered a lot more than just shock value. I am sure most of you KIDS were in your infancy during the nineties or started your hip-hop fandom with garbage like wayne. but had you been following rap in the nineties you would know that mainstream got really corny(all about money,hoes and bullshit tracks that catered to women) just like it has again in more recent years. X brought rawness back to the game, X spoke from his heart and from the streets. even during his financial prime he continued to live the exact way he always had. His impact on Hip-Hop was unmatched and still is. I wouldn't have to explain this if you children were actually about the culture you love to bitch about. and for those saying he was ill but became a drug addict your just as ignorant. he was an addict before his rise to the top. actually listen to his albums not just the few singles you have heard and you will realize how talented he is. even on collabos with r&b singers and r&b instrumentals he went hard as hell and hit pop sales numbers with tracks about fucking others peoples girls and shit like that. he is a product of poverty and incarceration and the success he has already reached is amazing. so amazing that he himself feels he owes it all to God because he defied all odds getting to where he did. truth is i could go on for days but i doubt any of you have the capacity to absorb it anyway. just follow hip-hop tradition and give credit where it is due.

  • Dos Bucks

    DMX showed the potential for Greatness but look how his life turned out. 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Diddy, Eminem, Dr Dre are all great not just because they made great music but made more money than anybody could've imagined through the greatness of their music by doing what they love.

  • Anonymous

    "The original lightskinned nicca" lol nah b that would be Prince

  • Anonymous

    "he is NOT a better entertainer by far" Drake gets opportunities X never did. X was getting raped by Def Jam, and other than a short stint in movies, had nothing else to fall back on. Don't fight the truth. Embrace and learn from it.

  • Kizman

    People dont let the crack and trouble cloud your judgement.Have you ever heard of Jayz 50 Cent or Eminem on the streets doing anything?Im not knocking Em or 50 but X' swords speak for themself!!

    • Anonymous

      what is x doing "on the streets" apart from getting pulled over for driving without a license? why would them niggas worth over 100+ million want to be "in the streets" doing anything when they started rapping to get away from that stuff???

  • Yeezus

    "Who We Be" is still one of the greatest rap songs of all time

    • Anonymous

      Dmx is one of the smartest rappers you can ever see. He stands next to Immortal Techniques intelligence.

  • RHX

    Of course DMX achieved greatness.. If he didn't then tell me what is

  • Drake Lover

    Let's talk about butthole.

  • Anonymous

    droped two classics in what 8 months?

  • Truth

    That Whole interview was DOPE!

  • insanemacbeth

    yeah, DMX defo had his moments of greatness. like 'DAMIEN' & 'THE OMEN'. #classic sh*t!

  • Anonymous

    DMX rapped about having sex with a corpse and raping underage girls so I have no sympathy for his descent into addiction. He is an embarrassment to his children and a slimy human being who never matured enough ro learn how to be Real man.

  • Anonymous

    I've never heard of any guys who would admit to liking drake. Ok young boys under 16 or 17. But mainly he has a female fan base. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. My grudge with drake is that he dumbs down his lyrics for certain audiences. Rappers never used dumb down there lyrics for nobody. Listen to biggie - one more chance or me and my bitch. Method man - all I need.

    • Gregg

      A lot of my partners friends like Drake, I listen to more soul music but him & he besties love that Pop music. Sometimes, I can tolerate it because it makes him want to snuggle more. I'll give Drake that much.

    • ^

      Dumb way to make a point when you don't claim to have a Drake album.

    • Anonymous

      "I've never heard of any guys who would admit to liking drake." you probably don't have many friends or get out much. lots of guys like drake and theres nothing wrong with that. theres no problem until you become an obbessive groupie like "Champagne Papi Life" I got 4 Drake songs on my library, one with Nipsey Hussle and one with Jeezy.

  • Anonymous

    "mostly teenage girls, soccer moms" I wasn't aware soccer moms ran out and bought many CD's. They're too busy purchasing mini vans and school supplies.

  • IROC

    DMX had it all top selling albums movies and sell out shows and according to his ex wife they had their hands on 40 million at one time but X was haunted by his demons and struggle with turning his life over to GOD but the devil had him and industry doesnt care X will have only his past hits the machine doesnt want him rough hill to climb only God can save X

  • Anonymous

    The original lightskinned nicca

  • rideonemjixxer

    Russell is prob right that a clear mind is more efficient and effective, but its easier to meditate and relax when you're financially secure... As for DMX, he is 100% right that X made poor decisions (*cough cough* supposedly smoking crack), but X was on another level and very unique. its too bad...

  • Anonymous

    "Entertainment value?" I said entertainer, not entertainment value, but thanks for trying.

  • Anonymous

    "according to you" According to the millions of people who keep making Drake double platinum.

  • lol.

    hes obviously been smashing lines with dmx recently

  • LOX DMX Double R

    He still got mad classics people wanna hear him do live Damian Slippin Ruff Ryders Anthem you could keep goin

  • troof

    BREAKFAST CLUB!!!!!! HOT 97 is why NY - is and has been stalled - in the music game. CLOSE MINDED NEGATIVE ATTITUDES LIKE WE OWE THEM SOMETHIN!!!

  • Anonymous

    X let demons get to him.

  • Anonymous

    "Drake is no where near as big as DMX was in his prime" Sales wise no, but entertainer wise, he blows X out of the water.

    • Sam Snead

      Ya R&B hooks over and over again compared with street anthems like the ruff ryder anthem, your lame. DMX had some songs with R&B hooks as well but he made street and hip hop hooks as well.

    • Anonymous

      i wanna let u know drake is only popular cuz he caters to women. anyone who sucks up to preteen girls or females is always more popular than people who make legitimate art.

    • Anonymis

      X > Drake in sales til this day. Entertainment value? It's about perspective there but I'm sure you needed to use something to deflect a fact that you won't even acknowledge.

    • Anonymous

      according to you, you were probably too young to remember the 90's though

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant? lol Was Russell deaf while he was listening to X's jams? He was pure shock value with good production. That's it.

    • d-nucks

      naw dude had lyrics..poetic..... I'mma flow regardless because I'm an artist until I'm trapped I'mma continue to hit the hardest whether I scrap or rap Give me dap but you ain't my friend I see it in your eyes, you contemplate my end You waitin' for that bend in the road, where you were told That you would go, when you were old And if you died young, it was cold Sold... for nearly what it was worth Think back 26 years, be like what if his birth Was a miscarriage and I never existed Have I given something that have been taken away you'd have missed it Didn't know, yet I persisted It was the call of the wild I merely say what's in my heart, and you call it a style Don't put it in the cage, don't mistreat it You say you hunger for knowledge, here it is eat it Another song completed is another thought captured Let me do my thing I got it locked wit' this rap shit

    • Anonymous

      i wasn't even checking for x that much back in the days, but it was unique and i think gave the south their inspiration

    • Anonymus

      X music had more substance than anything out now with good production. You shouldn't mind shock value at least there was some thought involved, rappers now would have writers block if they had to write about anything that ain't clothes, jewelry intead of jewels, cars, hoes and money.

  • 5

    Dmx used to be the man back in the late 90's. That song the Convo off his first album was amazing...talking to God and satan...the best track he ever made. But he became an addict and the drugs got the best of him as they will with anyone!

  • where my dogs at?

    Nah DMX did his thing his first 4 albums were dope as fuck just got caught up in the drugs but he still getting that show money niggas act like he livin in a box under a bridge smoking rocks

    • DMX accountant up in here?

      where are you getting 4k a month? if action Bronson makes 6k a month off iTunes how much dmx getting? just for turning up to a club doin a couple tracks he'd get more than 4k

    • TRE

      **Which ISNT terrible

    • TRE

      He makes like 4k a month. Which is terrible but for someone who was making way more than that daily its sad

  • Fan with context

    hot97's interviews seem so forced and contrived. They are starting to come off as a novelty and no authentic, thats ehy moree people gravitate to the brakfast club as the standard for hip hop news, inteviews, and opinion........#andilikehot97 #theylacking

    • Anonymous

      " the standard for hip hop news, inteviews, and opinion" you think Breakfast CLub is the standard for hip-hop news and interviews? LOL okay.....

  • Anonymous

    I feel weird hearing an old ass guy saying "i Fucks with"

    • Anonymous

      dont cuss. use big words without shame.

    • Anonymous

      ive met old cats that can talk rougher than young folk. there's 20 year old college kids and 30 year old women who sound weird cussing. it's not weird cuz he's old. it's cuz he's corny from the start. if he was 20 he would still be sounding weird saying that shit. i bet he has a geeky highshcool pic. russels a nerd. i dont cuss often cuz of all the nerd kids who made it uncool. im not offended by the cuss word as much as i am by their awkwardness. same reason i quit weed last week. i'm joining the NOI.

    • Anonymous

      ive met old cats that can talk rougher than young folk. it's not cuz he's old. it's cuz he's fuckin corny from the start. if he was 20 he would be sounding weird saying that shit. i bet he has a geeky highshcool pic. russels a nerd.

    • Anonymous

      lol i know huh

  • Champagne Papi Life

    What did DMX add to hip-hop? Barking like a dog? That's about it. Same old bullshit: I'll shoot you, I'll rob you, I'll rape your daughter, same old ignorant bullshit. Then the fool has the audacity to have conversations with God on his albums. What a stupid ass crackhead, he ain't brilliant. Drake on the other hand is a multi-talented visionary who is brilliant.

    • smdh

      Drake can't fuck with DMX on NO level. Get outta here with that feminine ass shit that nigga be putting out. His whole persona is fake.

    • Anonymous

      "Drake has a bunch of commericial songs but they tend to be well written..." Yes, because repetitive bullshit like Started From The Bottom and Hold On We're Going Home are such well-written songs. Also, Rough Ryders Anthem, Party Up In Here and What's My Name are classics. You know nothing about hip-hop, Drake fanboy.

    • killalltrolls

      crawl back in your mothers ass hole and die bitch!

    • Snoooop

      All Drake does is sing about saving hos, how he loves his niggas, and how "tough" he is. Fuck outta here.

    • imho

      listen 2 slippin, kato, his prayer skits, lord gimme a sign, the rain, the convo ect..

    • Anonymous

      X was the shit when he hit the scene and had more tight songs than you say. "The heat", atf and niggas done started are claasics imo.

    • Hiphop is dead

      let me know when drake drops 2 albums in one year and keeps it real in rap. see there's a difference between them X never gave a damn bout a grammy or any award he was happy putting out music period. unlike drake that's fed the "american dream" complex which is why he cares bout his grammy wins, had a fake ass situation with common for publicity. etc. etc. the list goes on. so please respect a living legend MC and stick to daddy drakes sparkle nuts you ignorant shit.

    • Anonymous

      I really hope Champagne Papi Life is a girl, if you a man you should probably had no father.

    • Anonymous

      Drake is no where near as big as DMX was in his prime.

    • Champagne Papi Life

      Really, the realness? Plenty of emcees who were more talented wrote about struggle...Biggie, Nas, Kweli, Kool G Rap, Ghostface etc. I'll admit Slippin' and Who We Be are classics and both are brilliantly crafted songs. But for the most part X was never anything close to brilliant in terms of song writing. Give me a break, most of his catalog is closer to bullshit like Rough Ryders Anthem, Party Up In Here and What's My Name. And for the record songs don't necessarily have to be deep in order to be well-written. Drake has a bunch of commericial songs but they tend to be well written...hence the song writing awards he has received. Where were X's song writing awards at? Exactly.

    • D.G

      You just put yourself out there as someone who does not understand the realness of DMX's lyrics and songwriting abilities. DMX has had a major impact in the culture as well as people's lives as they were able to identify with him on a personal level, especially in terms of struggle.

    • Anonymous

      No one expects a Drake groupie to understand.

  • Anonymous

    Lord Jamar says he worried about X because they throwing all this money at him for shows and he's just gonna use it for more drugs.

  • imho

    i seen somewhere that swizz was focusing on dmx next project..i hope he can come back bec dmx when hes on is a beast..his last project you can tell he was too fucked up

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