Russell Simmons
Simmons was principally responsible for bringing rap and hip hop music into the cultural mainstream of America. His formation of Def Jam Records in the early eighties marked the beginning of rap as a dominant music form. By the end of the century, rap music had outpaced country music in sales and overall popularity. He signed such noted artists as LL Cool J, Run-DMC, and Public Enemy. Simmons parlayed his success in music to films and other business enterprises including a new line of clothing under the Phat Farm label.