Russell Simmons is no stranger to controversy: Over the course of his career as the business mastermind behind outlets like Def Jam Records and Def Comedy Jam, he’s gotten plenty of heat over content that was considered edgy, political, and vulgar. As he notes, “They almost shut down my company over Public Enemy.”
But the swirl of negativity surrounding Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, one of the shorts that is a part of his just-launched All Def Digital channel on YouTube, was too much. The piece, which depicted the famous titular abolitionist bedding an older white man she refers to as “Massa,” was taken down—though not without considerable hand-wringing from Simmons.
“For my entire life, I have been protective of artistic freedom and protective of artists,” he told EW via phone. “In the history of Def Comedy Jam or Def Poetry Jam or Def Jam Records, I have never censored an artist. But I took it down, because all the artists involved agreed it was okay. What broke my heart was how upset and enraged black women were.” READ FULL STORY