Russell Simmons and LL Cool J Launch Keep the Peace

Queens-bred moguls reunite in their hometown to stop crime with new anti-violence initiative.

Posted: 08/01/2014 10:31 AM EDT

Two of the biggest names in hip hop, Russell Simmons and LL Cool J –– both Queens natives –– went back to their roots on Thursday (July 31) to kick-off Keep the Peace, an anti-violence initiative.

"Violence is down in the city, but you still can't go into the projects," Simmons said to a group at the Baisley Park Houses, after an anti-violence rally. "This project is one of the places where it's consistently high and unacceptable."

The moguls also visited Riker's Island jail to offer words of encouragement to young prisoners. Simmons has been using proceeds from his prepaid RushCards to give grants to local organizations, like the $100,000 he gifted to LIFE Camp, an anti-violence organization that works with Rikers.

"You can absolutely without a doubt do anything you put your mind to," Simmons told the inmates. "It's your spirit you've got to work on."

Meanwhile LL, a St. Albans native, reflected on his own rough upbringing.

Simmons and LL are the latest music celebs to tackle violence in their own backyards. Chance the Rapper recently joined forces with his dad, Ken Williams-Bennett in May to kick off the #SaveChicago anti-violence initiative.

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(Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

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