Praised by the New York Times as an "exuberant, daringly fresh series that breaks poetry out of the neat little boxes it's so often put it," Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry features a spectrum of voices, from struggling urban poets who've cut their teeth in speakeasies and small clubs across the country, to the icons of the form, to celebrated actors, singers, dancers, and comedians writing and sharing poems for the first time. This season's special guests include Dave Chappelle, Common, Savion Glover, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keyes, Eve Ensler, John Legend, Phylicia Rashad, Smokey Robinson, Kanye West and many others.
Each installment of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry is hosted by the highly regarded hip-hop artist and actor Mos Def (Golden Globe nominee for HBO Films' "Something the Lord Made"). The series is directed by Stan Lathan, who, along with Simmons, executive produced the long-running hit series Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam, which was also directed by Lathan.
Recognizing the power of urban poetry on modern culture, top rap music impresario Simmons, whose Def Jam Records launched the careers of artists such as LL Cool J and Jay-Z, teamed up with HBO to create Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry in 2001, turning the spotlight on the freshest and most fearless voices in America today.
Previous seasons have featured performances by special guests ranging from Cedric the Entertainer and Caroline Kennedy to Benjamin Bratt and Erykah Badu.