Rick Rubin Comes Out of Hiding

Interview

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rick Rubin Rick Rubin (Annabel Mehran)

Legendary producer Rick Rubin co-founded Def Jam Recordings when he was still in college, putting out albums with hip-hop stars like LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy, to name a few. But the Grammy Award winner still thinks of himself as an anti-industry punk. “I had no expectation of anybody ever hearing this music,” Rubin tells Kurt Andersen in a rare interview. “We made it for our friends. That said, we thought it was really good.”

After helping bring hip-hop into the mainstream, Rubin left Def Jam and started a new label where he branched into genres like metal, country, and pop. His decade-long collaboration with Johnny Cash solidified his reputation as one of the greatest music producers of all time. Cash and Rubin made a series of critically-acclaimed albums, long after the record industry had written Cash off. “I thought it’d be a fun challenge to find a grown-up artist who hadn’t been doing their best work and try to recapture what was great about them,” Rubin says. He performed similar feats for artists such as Neil Diamond, Metallica, and Black Sabbath.

In recent years, the producer has made a return to hip-hop, making albums with Jay Z, Eminem, and Kanye West. West tested Rubin’s famously laid-back cool by asking him to put together the half-finished album Yeezus with only weeks to go before the release date. “I didn’t think it was realistic or doable,” Rubin says. “I was panicky and he was completely cool. As it turns out, it’s the way he works best.”

Despite his reputation as a solid-gold hitmaker, Rubin remains stubbornly modest. He attributes his success to his one rule in the studio. “We don’t talk about what’s going to get on the radio [or] how are we going to make our release date,” he says. “We talk about how we make this song as good as it can be.”

→ Play the Rick Rubin Word Association Game

    Music Playlist
  1. Black Skinhead
    Artist: Kanye West
    Album: Yeezus
    Label: Def Jam Recordings
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Don't You Remember
    Artist: Adele
    Album: 21
    Label: XL Recordings/Columbia
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
    Artist: Nine Inch Nails
    Album: Further Down The Spiral
    Label: Island UK
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. The Man Comes Around
    Artist: Johnny Cash
    Album: American IV: The Man Comes Around
    Label: American Recordings
    Purchase: Amazon
  5. It's Yours
    Artist: T La Rock & Jazzy Jay
    Label: Def Jam
    Purchase: Amazon
  6. The New Style
    Artist: Beastie Boys
    Album: Licensed To Ill
    Label: Def Jam/RAL
    Purchase: Amazon
  7. I See A Darkness
    Artist: Johnny Cash
    Album: American III: Solitary Man
    Label: American Recordings
    Purchase: Amazon
  8. Hell Yeah
    Artist: Neil Diamond
    Album: 12 Songs
    Label: Columbia
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Rick Rubin

Produced by:

Eliza Grace Martin and Sean Rameswaram

Comments [2]

Garyboy from Harlem

Kanye West, the copycat rapper?! He needed a mentor; really?!

May. 26 2014 08:31 AM
stanchaz from Brooklandia

He should have worked with Dylan!

May. 26 2014 07:20 AM

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