Jay-Z’s Tidal, Diddy’s Revolt TV, and morning radio show “The Breakfast Club” are under fire for interviewing Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons, who has been accused of sexual assault or rape by at least 13 women.
For background, Russell Simmons stepped down from Def Jam Records (and his positions in several other companies) shortly after the allegations came to light in 2017. The 62-year-old then liquidated his stateside assets and relocated to Bali, Indonesia. The expansive island nation does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
“The Breakfast Club” uploaded its interview with Russell Simmons to YouTube on June 10th, and the footage was still live at the time of this writing. TIDAL and Revolt TV, however, have pulled the “Drink Champs” podcast episode featuring Simmons.
Sil Lai “Scrappy” Abrams – a self-described “radical black feminist” – appeared to ignite the controversy surrounding the interviews by asking:
“What in the entire hell are Jay Z and @TIDAL doing by giving Russell Simmons a platform to discuss #BlackLivesMatter? Why do people continue to give him a pass? @marclamonthill [a Temple University professor and BET news correspondent; he appeared on “Drink Champs” with Simmons and subsequently spoke with Abrams] did you ask him about the multiple rape allegations against him???”
The 49-year-old journalist elaborated on her position in a series of follow-up messages, stating in one of the tweets:
“Jay Z and Puff won’t stand up for Russell via public statements, but they are still rape apologists. By quietly giving him an unchallenged voice on their media platforms, they make a huge statement: Black survivors of sexual violence are an irrelevant casualty of hip hop.”
“The Breakfast Club” interviewers cut to the chase when speaking with Simmons, asking at the dialogue’s start: “First of all, where are you, Russ?”
Seated cross-legged before an intricate piece of artwork, Simmons responded, “Right now, I’m in my home in Bali. I got stuck here. You know, I live between LA and Bali, and I was in New York in January, and I got on a plane and Ming [his 20-year-old daughter, Ming Simmons] was supposed to come.
“And once I got here, you know, they closed the borders [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] and I got stuck, which is fine by me. So, I’m still here. I haven’t been back [to the United States] since the middle of January.”
When asked why he resided in Bali, Simmons cited his business ventures and his quest for personal growth, making no mention of the sexual assault allegations or the fact that he moved to Indonesia back in 2018.
The conversation ultimately returned to the allegations, which Simmons denied: “I can tell you that I don’t feel that I victimized them [his accusers]. … I took nine separate three-hour lie detector tests.”