Russell Simmons’ Art for Life Charity Celebrates 15-Year Fundraiser

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Russell Simmons’ Art for Life gala has entered its 15th year and it’s still the most sought after philanthropic ticket in town. The mega-mogul, along with some wealthy friends–rapper Rick Ross and Patriots owner Bob Kraft, put their influence and fat wallets behind arts education for inner city youth.

The Hamptons-based fundraiser also threw a spotlight to honorees with an appreciation for arts in the community. Such as former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg and Simmons’ ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons (who returned the favor by donating $1 milly to RUSH Arts Foundation.)

Rounding out the guest list was the fam: brother Danny Simmons, niece and nephew Angela Simmons and JoJo Simmons (duh!!)

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Star Jones

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Gayle King

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Soledad O’Brian played MC for the night

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Bevy Smith worked the red carpet giving interviews

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow and Naughty By Nature got the crowd off their feet.

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Photo Credit: Global Grind

Sounds like an epic night that’s worthy of a cash donation.

If you were absent from the festivities there’s still a way to give to RUSH Arts Foundation and meet your fave celeb. Click here to make a bid.

Russell Simmons’ 14th Annual Art for Life Gala

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Russell Simmons brought out a bevy of stars on Saturday for his annual Art for Life Gala that raised $1.5 million for arts education, which has been sorely lacking in our schools these days, geared towards at risk youth. Russell works with his brothers: Rev Run and Danny Simmons, an artist in his own right, (check him out)  to develop opportunities for young ones to  showcase their artwork in galleries around Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as in public schools. RUSH Philanthropic Foundation boasts that it caters to 2,500 kids annually with their programs.

Not to shabby, Mr. Simmons, so it’s only fitting that the event get a major upgrade. Mission Accomplished. To cater to a larger guest list. The Art for Life Gala was held in a Field of Dreams. Well, actually, Fairview Farms in Bridgehampton, but you guys know what I mean.

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Anyhoo, the stars were shining extra bright to raise awareness for the arts.

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sekouwrites

Anthony Anderson pointed out what must have been a very lovely crowd.

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Danny Simmons looking extra sharp made an appearance.

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Tyler Perry was honored at the event.

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Soledad O’Brien hosted the event…While Rick Ross, Maxwell and Estelle rocked the mic.

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A lucky friend of mine who attended the gala, actually hijacked Estelle’s performance. Good thing Estelle likes to share the stage with an American boy.

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But nothing beats this epic photo of Rick Ross and Russell Simmons’ two daughters. There are no words…

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Fun Times had by all!!

Snoop Lion Pleads for Nonviolence in “No Guns Allowed,” Is it Hypocritical?

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When I first heard that Snoop Dogg…er Snoop Lion released a song, “No Guns Allowed,” pleading for an end to gun violence I was grateful to finally hear at least one voice from the rap community speak out against this epidemic–whose latest casualty was 16-year-old Kimani Gray gunned down by police just blocks from my Brooklyn street–a source of contention not only in my neighborhood but around the country as the gun debate heightens.

As loud as the gun shots and crying parents may be to the communities most effected by these tragedies, it’s the deafening silence from entertainers that glorify and sensationalize the gangsta lifestyle that is appalling to me. I’m not anti-rap (listening to Eminem as I write this.) I appreciate all art that expresses a culture that may not otherwise be acknowledged and will motivate people to be more socially conscious. However, I don’t see the latter being shown. I’m all for making people dance, thanks P. Diddy. But music, rap music especially has always prided itself on tacking social ills of the ghetto. But, I have yet to see heavy weights  Jay Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne or Rick Ross up in arms about gun violence plaguing the very communities they brag about growing up in.

I’m not campaigning for an after school special dedicated to this issue (although it wouldn’t hurt) or even a “We Are The World” joint. And I’m not so naive to think that Jay Z instructing gang members to trade in their guns will automatically change things.  Although, I think music manager Michael “Blue” Williams idea of a gun buy back program  during Beyonce’s summer concerts are a good start. I’m just suggesting they use their influence to contribute to the change we all wanna see. The change rap legends Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls flawlessly rapped about on “Changes” and “Sky’s the Limit” songs. And how easily they could transition between rapping about causing mayhem in the streets and their desire to see them change.

Now Snoop is doing the same, albeit with a Rhastafarian vibe that channels Bob Marley, and has taken his daughter Cori B, who covers background vocals, and rapper Drake along for the ride. It’s surprising to hear the same rapper who would find any excuse to do the Crip dance and reveal how inseparable he was with his gun in “10 Lil Crips” : they say it’s crazy out here, it ain’t no more fun/ I can’t walk down the street without my gun, gun, would be counseling to stop the gun fire in “No Guns Allowed” : Me don’t want to see no more innocent blood shed/ me don’t want to see no more youth dead.

While this contrast may give listeners the side eye to Snoop’s new found social conscious lyrics–the result of a trip to Jamaica that changed his lifestyle and name–and lead them to shot HYPOCRITE after glamorizing the gangsta life for decades. I think he’s a prime example for what the gun violence debate needs; someone that’s lived that lifestyle, survived it and can pass on what he learned in making it out.

Snoop found inner peace. Let’s hope it’s something he can help pass on to our youth. And make our streets quieter again.