Note: This article contains descriptions of alleged assault.
Today’s episode of the N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN-hosted Revolt podcast Drink Champs featured multiple guests discussing the Black Lives Matter movement. One of those guests was Russell Simmons, who faces multiple allegations of sexual assault. Following the episode’s release, TIDAL—which promoted Simmons’ interview on social media, presumably as part of its partnership deal with Drink Champs—was called out by journalist Sil Lai Abrams. Abrams and two other women outlined allegations against Simmons in the recently released HBO Max documentary On the Record. Following a public outcry on social media over his appearance, the Simmons-featuring episode of Drink Champs was removed from TIDAL tonight.
“What in the entire hell are JAY-Z and TIDAL doing by giving Russell Simmons a platform to discuss #BlackLivesMatter,” Abrams wrote, pointing to a since-deleted tweet from TIDAL promoting the episode and tagging Simmons’ Twitter handle. Abrams also mentioned Simmons’ June 10 interview with Charlamagne Tha God on The Breakfast Club. “Why do people continue to give him a pass,” she wrote.
Abrams first came forward with her story in a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Abrams said she was raped by Simmons in 1994—an incident that she said caused her to attempt to take her own life. She claimed that Simmons apologized to her in 1998. Simmons has unequivocally denied “any wrongdoing” and claimed, through a publicist, that the 1998 conversation never took place.
The episode with Simmons also featured Talib Kweli, Bun B, Mysonne, and Marc Lamont Hill. Hill tweeted that he wasn’t told in advance that Simmons was scheduled to appear on the show and said he wouldn’t have appeared on the show had he known. “During Russell’s 20ish minutes on the show, I was texting the producers telling them that I was not comfortable with his press and asking to wrap,” Hill wrote. “After the show, I expressed my frustration with what happened. I also asked them not to air Russell’s portions.” When asked why he didn’t speak up during Simmons’ appearance, Hill said he “froze.”
In a response to Hill, N.O.R.E. tweeted: “I apologize for me not being fully aware of what was going on!!! I just wanted to put black men together who are powerful for a powerful convo !!! Moving forward I will be more aware of guests and who and how they are presented !!!” Abrams shared N.O.R.E.’s tweet with clown and trashcan emojis.
Pitchfork has reached out to Revolt and Drink Champs for comment.