Who's Who > HistoryHome  
Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin


Def Jam.com


On top of his game in the middle to late 1980s, Rick Rubin merged his love of rock and roll and heavy metal to the street sounds of hip hop and rap. The result of this marriage was one hit after another for Def Jam Records. You don't need to have a golden ear for samples to detect the guitar riffs that Rick added to songs by LL Cool J as well as the Beastie Boys. Rick was well ahead of the pack when it came to metal rap sound which has now been taken even further by contemporary acts.

In an August 2005 conversation with Beastiemania.com Tim Sommer said the following about what he recalled about the early conversations he had with Rick Rubin about the Beastie Boys. "I was very good friends with Rick Rubin. I had first met him when he was in 11th grade, and I suspect I influenced his decision to come to NYU and move into Weinstein. I probably influenced his decision to become involved with the Beasties. Although again, this is more of a hunch than anything I can prove or remember. It must sound weird that I do not remember this for sure, but I was involved with so much music/music business stuff in those days that something like this which just didn't seem that important at the time escapes my complete recall. I do know for sure that we discussed the possibility of his becoming involved with the Beasties, but I can't quite remember the role I played in the discussion. For all I know, I may have attempted to dissuade him. I was not a fan of the Young and the Useless."

Rick though was not in anyway dissuaded though, on the Beastie Boys' album Licensed to Ill, Rick is credited not only as the producer, but also as co-writer. With Rick's contacts in the world of metal, it was easy to bring in Kerry King of Slayer to play lead guitar on the Beastie Boys' anthem "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." Rick promoted the Beastie Boys nonstop from 1985 until their split with Def Jam following the 1987 Licensed To Ill world tour. It was Rick, under the name DJ Double R, that performed on stage with the Beastie Boys as they opened for Madonna on her Like A Virgin Tour. Sensing he was on to something big and controversial, Rick went into the studio with the band to record "She's On It". The "She's On It" video featured Rick and the Beastie Boys chasing girls and getting into trouble. What may have seemed innocent at the time, was in fact the launch pad for the skirt chasing chaos that would encircle both Def Jam and the Beastie Boys within the year as Licensed to Ill.

The cross over success of Licensed to Ill put Rubin on the map as one of the best producers in he business. Yet with the Beastie Boys leaving Def Jam without a follow up to their break through album, tension between Rick and Russell Simmons developed. Each had a different vision of where Def Jam and their stable of artists should be in the context of popular music. Rick came to an agreement that he would leave Def Jam in Russell's hands, while starting another label Def American Records. The "Def" was later dropped and the label simply became American. American never became a hip hop icon like Def Jam, however a couple great albums with ties to the Beastie Boys were released. For example, DJ Kool's Let Me Clear My Throat as well as Milk's Never Dated (which featured Adrock on "Spam").

While being called upon to produce tracks for rock bands such as Weezer and Audioslave, Rick Rubin can still score with hip hop fans like he did with Jay-Z's monster hit "99 Problems." Speaking of Jay-Z, many online fans of the Beastie Boys sat up and took notice when it was called to their attention that footage from Jay-Z's movie "Fade to Black" actually depicts Mike D, Rick Rubin, and Jay-Z all hanging out together in the studio. That scene led many of us to believe that the "ill" feelings which may have existed between Diamond and Rubin in the past, have been shelved for the time being.

Dante Ross Run-DMC