Def Jam: 25 Years at the Forefront of Hip Hop

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(The Guardian) — ‘Without hip-hop we wouldn’t have Obama,” says Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, media mogul and the original template for every entrepreneur on Forbes magazine’s now annual “hip-hop rich list”. There’s plenty of truth in his words.  Back in April 2008 while still on the campaign trail, Barack Obama famously dismissed criticism from Hillary Clinton by brushing specks of imaginary dirt off each shoulder. Pundits applauded his ability to rise above the mud-slinging without even saying a word. But for a different audience, weaned on hip-hop, there was a second meaning: Obama was deliberately mimicking dance moves from the video to Jay-Z’s 2004 hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. Here was a potential president who at least spoke their language. Simmons adds: “It’s not just black kids. White kids who grew up on hip-hop have progressive politics. Hip-hop influenced a generation who helped put Obama in the White House.”

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