As one of the pioneers of Hip Hop, Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons was asked to share one of his earliest rap memories during a recent interview on the Juan Epstein show.

According to Russell, the first time he saw rap was at the Charles Gallery in Harlem, New York. He added that even though Eddie Cheeba was the first person he saw rapping, Cheeba and DJ Hollywood were labeled “disco rappers” because they were a little older and performed at venues that were indoors.

“The first time I seen rap was in Charles Gallery,” Russell said. “Was Eddie Cheeba. Niggas don’t know the history very well, you know. Like Eddie Cheeba and Hollywood, Lovebug Starsky. Some of these guys especially Hollywood and Cheeba for instance, they played in Club 371. They were indoors…The idea that they was indoors and they was a little, tiny bit older, a lot of rappers referred to them as ‘disco rappers.’ I don’t know what the fuck they mean disco rappers. They were rappers way before rap records.”

Russell also discussed his switch from drug dealer to promoter, a move he says he made because he was in search of “something more fun.” While speaking on the Hotel Diplomat, a club in Manhattan he promoted, he recalled bringing Grandmaster Flash to the venue to see Kurtis Blow and Eddie Cheeba perform.

“I was in there and that was what I wanted to do,” Russell said. “I was selling fake cocaine and I used to sell it for dust…I was doing that and I wanted to do something more fun. And music was it…The first time I went to the Hotel Diplomat with Grandmaster Flash. Cause at the time, again, Hollywood and Eddie Cheeba were the big niggas to play downtown.

“And Flash was young…And also their audience was younger,” he added. “But I brought Grandmaster Flash to Hotel Diplomat and that was actually funny cause the first time I brought Flash to Diplomat…Kurtis Blow came and Eddie Cheeba performed. It was Eddie Cheeba and Grandmaster Flash, Lovebug Starsky I think, and Cipha Sound from Queens…So anyway, Kurtis Blow came out. He did that classic intro. And then got the record deal…He stole that record. We made that record ‘Christmas Rappin’ because we saw Kurtis perform.”

Several weeks ago, Russell previously shared his thoughts on Hip Hop, specifically today’s Hip Hop as he expressed his pride in the genre while responding to comments Kid Cudi made criticizing Hip Hop.

“I mean, an artist’s job is to express what’s on the hearts and the minds of people,” he said while on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” “I think the artists are sharing with us some really inspiring things and some things about ourselves that we don’t wanna face. I’m not at all disturbed by where they’re going. In fact, I’m actually proud of what Hip Hop has become.”

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