NYC Mayor Eric Adams Should Not Be Posing in Photos With Russell Simmons
Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

NYC Mayor Eric Adams Should Not Be Posing in Photos With Russell Simmons

A picture speaks a thousand words—especially when it includes a man credibly accused of rape by several women

The Kid Mero nailed it back in June when he tweeted of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, “I TOLD YALL NYC ELECTED A CLUB PROMOTER.”

Adams has fancied himself as “the future of the Democratic Party,” but if that is the case, we’ve already seen what’s to come. He reminds me of any other self-serving politician who covets power but is just as invested in the clout. That’s why Adams tends to net headlines for his nights on the town with A$AP Rocky, Cara Delevingne, Anna Wintour, or cast members of The Real Housewives of New Jersey—or, hell, any event held on any given day so long as a photographer is in attendance.

You can rarely if ever find real use of pols like that, but even those are capable of being useful at least some of the time. Such was the case for Adams last Wednesday, after he announced a $5.5 million investment in the Universal Hip Hop Museum located in the Bronx.

“Whether you are in Co-op City or Canarsie, New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to learn about some of the unique cultures in their backyard,” Mayor Adams explained. “Hip-hop tells the story of this city and the Bronx so vividly. It tells life amid poverty and crime, of turning pain into purpose, of making it… When we support our cultural groups, we allow the people of this city to connect and find these local jewels that serve as passports to historic destinations.”

According to ABC 7 in New York, construction of the Universal Hip Hop Museum core and shell is underway with completion anticipated in the fall of 2025. It will include several gallery spaces, a black box theater, and interactive exhibits.

Adams also announced new funding for Bronx-based cultural organizations including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the New York Botanical Garden, Pregones Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and the Bronx Zoo.

I never went to see the animals at the Bronx Zoo, but those big-ass rats in Harlem and Brooklyn were enough wildlife for me. I can, however, vouch for the Bronx Museum. As a creative, I support more funding for anything related to culture and the arts. Adams has been rightfully criticized for a lack of doctrine for the city, but if he’s going to be nothing more than an ex-cop turned clout monster, the least he can do is boost funding in areas like this.

Unsurprisingly, though, this generous act did not come without some self-aggrandizing: At the event, Adams christened himself the first “hip-hop mayor.”

I won’t bother advising him that humility goes a long way for a politician since he wouldn’t dare listen. However, someone with some sense should encourage him to do a better job of policing the company he keeps.

Just when you think you can give this walking political reboot of Joe Clarke from Lean on Me a compliment, of course he finds a way to ruin it.

After the press conference, it is unshocking to learn that Adams wanted to take pictures—but there is one shot of him grinning in a picture with Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Russell Simmons that deserves all of our attention.

As the founder of Def Jam Records, Simmons is undoubtedly an important part of hip-hop’s history. But given the recent accusations leveled against him in recent years, even if he has no shame, does Eric Adams?

Accused predators don’t deserve the kind of consideration Mayor Adams just gave to Russell Simmons.

Since November 2017, Simmons has been accused of more than a dozen cases of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Accusers have offered detailed accounts to the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, and in the HBO Max documentary On the Record.

Simmons has denied the allegations and has not been charged with any crime. Still, I choose to believe the women—statute of limitations be damned. Following a stint in Bali, Simmons returned to America in 2019, keeping a relatively low profile until last year. Presumably after recognizing it was unlikely he would be prosecuted and realizing that cancel culture is a figment of people’s imaginations, Simmons decided it was time to step back in the public eye.

That’s his right. But Adams, as mayor of NYC, is legitimizing a man credibly accused of rape by posing with him with that big grin on his face.

He doesn’t know any better. But he should.

Early into his mayoral stint, Adams faulted drill rappers for crime rates and called on social media platforms to ban their videos.

That was stupid and superficial, but for argument’s sake, I have to ask if Mayor Adams can waste time doing that, why wouldn’t he think not to keep as far away from Russell Simmons as humanly possible in that moment?

After all, it was only a week ago when he flippantly said, “If you are on Rikers, you did something really bad,” neglecting the fact that most people are there because they are poor and lack the resources to escape a system designed to keep them locked up.

Adams must know this, but since he likes to talk about fighting crime as if he’s a professional colleague of Batman, one assumes he’s heard of the accusations leveled against Russell Simmons and why someone like him can evade ending up at Rikers.

Does Eric Adams not believe any of those women? If not, why not? And if he does believe them, why take the picture?

Hip-hop history ought to be celebrated in the city. When it comes to accused predators lurking behind it, sure, their contributions can’t be denied, but they don’t deserve the kind of consideration Mayor Adams just gave to Russell Simmons—who might at least face some civil liability thanks to a new law in the state of New York.

Can Adams really never turn off that club promoter trait of his or does he simply not care?

I think the answer is obvious, but it doesn’t make his decision any less repulsive and disappointing.