Russell Simmons is at the centre of a media storm after releasing a 'Harriet Tubman sex tape' during the launch of his new All Def Digital YouTube Network.

The controversial tape, which appeared online earlier this week, reimagined how the civil rights icon may have freed so many slaves.

The three-minute clip shows Tubman luring her white plantation owner into bed to have sex with her while another slave hides in the closet with a camera to blackmail the "master," so that she can free the slaves.

Minutes after it was uploaded, the sex tape parody had the internet riled.

One unimpressed viewer said: "I wonder what these people be thinking sometimes. I mean really who really thought this would go over well. As actors why would you even want to play these roles. I'm not really surprise it came from Russell Simmons."

Singer John Legend tweeted: "Harriet Tubman?? Say it ain't so, @UncleRUSH"

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) called the video a desecration of the legendary abolitionist's memory.

In the wake of the backlash, Simmons removed the video and issued a public apology.

"When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed," the founder of the hip-hop label Def Jam said.

"I'm a very liberal person with thick skin and it's hard to offend me. My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of the actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there's still tremendous injustice.

"And Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master, I thought that was politically correct. Silly me. I guess I'm older now and instead of fighting for one piece of content, I can understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video.

"I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry."

His apology comes hours after he described the video as the "funniest thing I've ever seen" in a tweet to his 2.8 million followers.

The Harriet Tubman Sex Tape was the first in a series of history-themed comedy sketches planned on the channel.