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"My concerns, however, are about the future of Def Jam and the industry as a whole as to whether the legacy that Def Jam established will be maintained to the benefit of the artists and the culture."
——Russell Simmons
SIMMONS WRITES L.A. REID ABOUT DEF JAM LEGACY
Questions Whether New Regime Will Be as Personally Involved With Label Artists
This time, it's the rap execs who are at war.

Russell Simmons openly questions whether Antonio "L.A." Reid can build on the legacy he created at Def Jam in a letter to the veteran record exec he made public.

In the letter—which was addressed to the recording industry—Simmons expresses concerns about the future of the rap label under Reid, who's more recognized in the world of pop and R&B music than he is in hip-hop, even with the success of OutKast and Usher.

"My concerns, however, are about the future of Def Jam and the industry as a whole as to whether the legacy that Def Jam established will be maintained to the benefit of the artists and the culture," Simmons wrote.

A source close to Simmons told the N.Y. Post: "The foundation of his argument is that [Def Jam] should go above the record company role and mentor these artists by people who know the streets."

Reid was tapped to head up Island Def Jam earlier this year after being let go by BMG's Arista Records and ex-chief Lyor Cohen's move to WMG.

Last month, Def Jam President Kevin Liles left the company, with reports that Simmons was not happy with the exit of his one-time colleague. 

His letter went on to detail the numerous artists Simmons worked with at Def Jam on not just a professional, but personal basis.

"During the time Slick Rick was unjustly incarcerated, Def Jam executives helped lead the national and international campaign with his devoted wife, Mary, to secure his freedom from a Florida prison," he wrote.

Slick Rick had been held on immigration charges and threatened with deportation.

He also mentions imprisoned rapper Shyne, who was signed earlier this year by Liles to a deal with Def Jam.

"Will the new transition team at Def Jam see Shyne for the potential he has to become a Spiritual Prophet as he defines himself or will he be reduced to the thug that the street is racing to define him as?" he wrote.

He closes the letter with, "What will Shyne come home to?"

Simmons founded Def Jam in 1985, then, with Cohen, sold half of the label to PolyGram—which soon became part of Universal Music Group—in 1994. The pair then sold the second half of the label after Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s Seagram acquired Universal.

"No one owes an artist anything but a fair record deal, marketing and promotions," Simmons wrote. "But Def Jam always in the past worked hard to offer more."

Simmons' contract for his role as chairman of Def Jam expired last year, and it's likely that it won't be renewed.

Turning his attention to social activism, he is the chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, produces movies under Simmons Lathan Media, continues to run his fashion empire Phat Farm and the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

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