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Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin

Frederick Jay Rubin was born March 10, 1963 and is an American record executive and record producer. He is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, founder of American Recordings, and former co-president of Columbia Records.

Rubin helped popularise hip hop by producing records for acts such as the Beastie Boys, Geto Boys, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, and LL Cool J. He has also produced hit records for acts from a variety of other genres, predominantly heavy metal (Danzig, Metallica and Slayer), alternative rock (the Cult, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Strokes and Weezer), hard rock (Audioslave and Aerosmith), nu-metal (Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down), and country (Johnny Cash and the Chicks).

In 2007, Rubin was called the most important producer of the last 20 years by MTV and was named on Time's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

His debut book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being, was published in January 2023.

Frederick Jay Rubin was born into a Jewish family in Long Beach, New York, on March 10, 1963,[4] the son of housewife Linda and shoe wholesaler Michael Rubin. He grew up in Lido Beach, New York. While a student at Long Beach High School, he befriended the school's audiovisual department director, who gave him a few lessons in guitar playing and songwriting. He then played in a band with three friends, performing at garage gigs and school shows until a teacher helped him create a punk band called the Pricks. Their biggest claim to fame was being thrown off the stage at CBGB after performing two songs due to brawling with hecklers, which had actually been instigated by friends of the band who had been instructed to do so to get the show shut down and create a buzz. Although he had no authority in New York City, Rubin's father travelled to Manhattan wearing his Long Beach auxiliary police uniform as he attempted to "shut down" the show.

During his senior year of high school, Rubin founded Def Jam Recordings using the school's four-track recorder. He moved on to form the band Hose, influenced by San Francisco's Flipper. In 1982, a Hose track became Def Jam's first release, a 45 rpm 7" vinyl single in a brown paper bag, and no label. The band played in and around the NYC punk scene, toured the Midwest and California, and played with seminal hardcore bands like Meat Puppets, Hüsker Dü, Circle Jerks, Butthole Surfers, and Minor Threat, becoming friends with Fugazi frontman and Dischord Records owner Ian MacKaye. The band broke up in 1984 as Rubin's passion moved towards the NYC hip hop scene.

Having befriended Zulu Nation's DJ Jazzy Jay, Rubin began to learn about hip hop production. By 1983, the two had produced "It's Yours" for Bronx rapper T La Rock, and released it on Def Jam. Producer Arthur Baker helped to distribute the record worldwide on Baker's Streetwise Records in 1984. Jazzy Jay introduced Rubin to concert promoter/artist manager Russell Simmons in the Negril club, and Rubin explained he needed help getting Def Jam off the ground. Simmons and Rubin edged out Jazzy Jay and the official Def Jam record label was founded while Rubin was attending New York University in 1984. Their first record released was LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat". Rubin went on to find more hip-hop acts outside the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem including rappers from Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island, which eventually led to Def Jam's signing of Public Enemy. Rubin was instrumental in pointing the members of the Beastie Boys away from their punk roots and into rap, resulting in the exit of Kate Schellenbach from the group. 1985's "Rock Hard"/"Party's Gettin' Rough"/"Beastie Groove" EP by the Beastie Boys came out on the success of Rubin's production work with breakthrough act Run-DMC, of which previous recordings were produced by Russell Simmons and Orange Krush's musician Larry Smith. His productions were characterised by occasionally fusing rap with heavy rock. Rubin tapped Adam Dubin and Ric Menello to co-direct the music videos for the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" and "No Sleep till Brooklyn", effectively launching the band's mainstream hip hop careers.

It was the idea of Rubin's friend Sue Cummings, an editor at Spin magazine, to have Run-DMC and Aerosmith collaborate on a cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way". This 1986 production is often credited with both introducing rap hard rock to mainstream ears and revitalising Aerosmith's career. In 1986, he worked with Aerosmith again on demos for their forthcoming album, but their collaboration ended early and resulted in only rough studio jams. In the same year, Rubin began his long musical partnership with Slayer, producing Reign in Blood, considered a classic of the heavy metal genre. This was his first work with a metal band.

In 1987, the Cult released their pivotal third album, Electric. Produced by Rubin, the album remains one of the Cult's trademark and classic works. Rubin would later work with the Cult again for the single "The Witch", in 1992. Rubin is credited as music supervisor for the film Less than Zero and as the producer of its soundtrack. Rubin portrayed a character based on himself in the 1985 hip-hop motion picture Krush Groove, which was inspired by the early days of Russell Simmons' career as an artist management and music producer. He then directed and co-wrote (with Ric Menello) a second Run–D.M.C. film, Tougher Than Leather in 1988.

In 1988, Rubin and Simmons went their separate ways after Rubin had a falling out with the then Def Jam president Lyor Cohen. Rubin left for Los Angeles to start Def American Records, while Simmons remained at Def Jam in New York. In Los Angeles, Rubin signed a number of rock and heavy metal acts, including Danzig, Masters of Reality, the Four Horsemen, and Wolfsbane, as well as alternative rock group the Jesus and Mary Chain and stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay. Though Rubin's work at this time focused mainly on rock and metal, he still retained a close association with rap, signing the Geto Boys and continuing to work with Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and Run-DMC.

Rubin had originally given his new label the name "Def American Recordings". In 1993 Rubin found that the word "def" had been accepted into the standardised dictionary and held an actual funeral for the word, complete with a casket, a grave, celebrity mourners and a eulogy from Al Sharpton. Def American became American Recordings. In regard to this he stated: "When advertisers and the fashion world co-opted the image of hippies, a group of the original hippies in San Francisco literally buried the image of the hippie. When 'def' went from street lingo to mainstream, it defeated its purpose."

The first major project on the renamed label was Johnny Cash's American Recordings (1994), a record including six cover songs and new material written by others for Cash at Rubin's request. The album was a critical and commercial success, and helped revive Cash's career following a fallow period. The formula was repeated for five more Cash albums: Unchained (on which Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers served as the backing band), Solitary Man, The Man Comes Around (the last album released before Cash's death), A Hundred Highways, and Ain't No Grave. The Man Comes Around earned a 2003 Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance ("Give My Love to Rose") and a nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals ("Bridge over Troubled Water" with Fiona Apple). Rubin introduced Cash to Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt", and the resulting cover version of it on The Man Comes Around would become a defining song of Cash's later years. Rubin also produced two of Joe Strummer's final songs, "Long Shadow", a song Strummer wrote for Cash to record although he never did, and a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". Both songs were released on Strummer's final album, Streetcore, which was released after his death. Rubin also produced a version of "Redemption Song" with Strummer and Cash together, which was featured in Cash's posthumous box set, Unearthed.

Rubin has also produced a number of records with other artists, which were released on labels other than American. Arguably his biggest success as producer came from working with the Red Hot Chili Peppers with whom Rubin produced six studio albums from 1991 to 2011, starting with the band's fifth release, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which launched the band to mainstream success thanks to the hit singles "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge". Other albums include One Hot Minute, Californication, By the Way, Stadium Arcadium and I'm With You. The six albums with the Chili Peppers also spawned 12 number one singles on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, a record the band as of 2015 still holds, and various awards including 16 Grammy Nominations (with six wins) with a Producer of the Year Grammy award for 2006's Stadium Arcadium, which was also nominated for Album of the Year. The band has sold over 80 million albums worldwide, most of which have been through sales of the Rubin-produced albums. Various members of the Chili Peppers have also been used on other projects by Rubin, John Frusciante featured on Johnny Cash and Chad Smith featured on the Dixie Chicks. After 24 years of working with Rubin, the band announced in late 2014 that they would be working with Danger Mouse on their eleventh studio album. However, Rubin returned to the role of producer for the band's two albums released in 2022, seven months apart from one another: Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen. Again these two albums both featured no.1 singles on the Alternative Songs chart.

He also produced Mick Jagger's 1993 Wandering Spirit album, Lords of Acid's 1994 Voodoo-U album, Tom Petty's 1994 Wildflowers, AC/DC's 1995 Ballbreaker, Donovan's 1996 Sutras, System of a Down's 1998 System of a Down, and Metallica's 2008 Death Magnetic. In 2005, Rubin executive-produced Shakira's two-album project Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2. He was to appear on the Talib Kweli's album Eardrum, Clipse's album Til the Casket Drops and Lil Jon's album Crunk Rock. Rubin also produced the Jay-Z track "99 Problems", and was featured in the song's music video. He also worked with Eminem on the song and music video "Berzerk".

Rubin produced Black Sabbath's 2013 album 13 and Billy Corgan's comeback solo album Ogilala.

In May 2007, Rubin was named co-head of Columbia Records. Rubin co-produced Linkin Park's 2007 album Minutes to Midnight with Mike Shinoda. Rubin and Shinoda have since co-produced the band's 2010 album, A Thousand Suns, and their 2012 release, Living Things.

In 2007, Rubin won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for his work with the Chicks. Michael Kranz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Green Day, and Johnny Cash released in 2006 Rubin won the award again in 2009, for production work for Metallica, Neil Diamond, Ours, Jakob Dylan, and Weezer in 2008.

In 2007 and 2012, Rubin won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The former was for his work on the Chicks album Taking the Long Way and the latter came for his contribution to Adele's album 21.

Rubin left Columbia in 2012, and revived the American Recordings imprint through a deal with Republic Records. The first albums released under this new deal were ZZ Top's La Futura and the Avett Brothers' The Carpenter.

Rubin attempted to record a cover album with Crosby, Stills & Nash in 2012, but the brief sessions were ultimately unsuccessful. Graham Nash went on to describe the sessions as "irritable" and "not a great experience".

In July 2021, Rubin signed with Endeavor Content to further develop his home studio, Shangri-La Recording Studios.

Rubin's biggest trademark as a producer has been a "stripped-down" sound, which involves eliminating production elements such as string sections, backup vocals, and reverb, and instead having naked vocals and bare instrumentation. However, by the 2000s, Rubin's style  had been known to include such elements, as noted in The Washington Post: "As the track reaches a crescendo and Diamond's portentous baritone soars over a swelling string arrangement, Rubin leans back, as though floored by the emotional power of the song."

On the subject of his production methods, Dan Charnas, a music journalist who worked as vice president of A&R and marketing at Rubin's American Recordings label in the 1990s, said, "He's fantastic with sound and arrangements, and he's tremendous with artists. They love him. He shows them how to make it better, and he gets more honest and exciting performances out of people than anyone." Natalie Maines of the Chicks has praised his production methods, saying, "He has the ability and the patience to let music be discovered, not manufactured. Come to think of it, maybe he is a guru." Producer Dr. Dre has stated that Rubin is "hands down, the dopest producer ever that anyone would ever want to be, ever".


1981: The Pricks – The Pricks

1983: Hose – Hose

1984: T La Rock & Jazzy Jay – "It's Yours"

1984: LL Cool J – "I Need a Beat"

1985: Beastie Boys – "Rock Hard"

1985: Run-DMC – King of Rock (mixing)

1985: Jazzy Jay – "Def Jam/Cold Chillin' in the Spot"

1985: Jimmy Spicer – "This Is It / Beat the Clock"

1985: Hollis Crew – "It's the Beat"

1985: LL Cool J – Radio

1986: Run-DMC – Raising Hell

1986: Slayer – Reign in Blood

1986: Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill

1986: Original Concept – Can You Feel It?

1986: Junkyard Band – "The Word" / "Sardines"

1987: Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show (exec.)

1987: The Cult – Electric

1987: Run-DMC – "Christmas in Hollis"

1987: Various – Less than Zero (soundtrack)

1987: LL Cool J – "Jack the Ripper"

1988: Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (exec.)

1988: Slayer – South of Heaven

1988: Danzig – Danzig

1988: Run-DMC – Tougher Than Leather

1988: Original Concept – Straight from the Basement of Kooley High! (exec.)

1989: Masters of Reality – Masters of Reality

1989: LL Cool J – Walking With a Panther

1989: Wolfsbane – Live Fast, Die Fast

1989: Andrew Dice Clay – Dice


1990: Andrew Dice Clay – The Day the Laughter Died

1990: Danzig – Danzig II: Lucifuge

1990: Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss

1990: Geto Boys – The Geto Boys (supervisor)

1990: Trouble – Trouble

1990: Wolfsbane – All Hell's Breaking Loose Down at Little Kathy Wilson's Place

1991: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

1991: Slayer – Decade of Aggression

1991: Andrew Dice Clay – Dice Rules

1991: The Four Horsemen – Nobody Said It Was Easy

1991: Dan Baird – Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired

1992: Sir Mix-a-Lot – Mack Daddy (exec.)

1992: Trouble – Manic Frustration

1992: Danzig – Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (exec.)

1992: The Red Devils – King King

1992: Andrew Dice Clay – 40 Too Long

1992: Red Hot Chili Peppers – What Hits!?

1993: Flipper – American Grafishy (exec.)

1993: Mick Jagger – Wandering Spirit

1993: Raging Slab – Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert (exec.)

1993: The Cult – The Witch (CD, Single)

1993: Danzig – Thrall-Demonsweatlive

1993: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – Flashback

1993: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Greatest Hits

1993: Messiah – 21st Century Jesus (exec.)

1993: Andrew Dice Clay – The Day the Laughter Died, Part II

1993: Digital Orgasm – Do It (exec.)

1993: Barkmarket – Gimmick (exec.)

1993: Various – Last Action Hero: Music From The Original Motion Picture

1994: Johnny Cash – American Recordings

1994: Sir Mix-a-Lot – Chief Boot Knocka (exec.)

1994: Slayer – Divine Intervention (exec.)

1994: Danzig – Danzig 4

1994: Tom Petty – Wildflowers

1994: Andrew Dice Clay – Dice Live at Madison Square Garden

1994: Deconstruction – Deconstruction (exec.)

1994: Milk – Never Dated (exec.)

1994: Lords of Acid – Voodoo-U (exec.)

1994: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Live Rare Remix Box

1994: Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Plasma Shaft

1995: God Lives Underwater – God Lives Underwater (exec.)

1995: Nine Inch Nails – Further Down the Spiral

1995: Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute

1995: AC/DC – Ballbreaker

1995: God Lives Underwater – Empty (exec.)

1995: Jazz Lee Alston – Jazz Lee Alston (exec.)

1996: Slayer – Undisputed Attitude (exec.)

1996: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – She's the One

1996: Sir Mix-a-Lot – Return of the Bumpasaurus (exec.)

1996: Donovan – Sutras

1996: LL Cool J – All World: Greatest Hits

1996: Johnny Cash – Unchained

1996: Barkmarket – L. Ron (exec.)

1996: Raging Slab – Sing Monkey Sing (exec.)

1996: Kwest tha Madd Ladd – This Is My First Album (exec.)

1997: System of a Down - Demo Tape 3

1997: Various – Private Parts: The Album

1998: Slayer – Diabolus in Musica

1998: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson – VH1 Storytellers

1998: System of a Down – System of a Down

1998: Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (mixing)

1998: Various – Chef Aid: The South Park Album

1998: Sheryl Crow – The Globe Sessions

1999: Kula Shaker – Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts

1999: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Echo

1999: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

1999: Various – Loud Rocks

1999: Melanie C – Northern Star

1999: Mr. Hankey Poo – Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo

1999: Various – Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics (exec.)


2000: Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man

2000: Rage Against the Machine – Renegades

2000: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Living in the Present Future

2000: Paloalto – Paloalto

2001: Saul Williams – Amethyst Rock Star

2001: American Head Charge – The War of Art

2001: System of a Down – Toxicity

2001: Slayer – God Hates Us All (exec.)

2001: Macy Gray – The Id (exec.)

2001: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – The Final Studio Recordings

2001: Krishna Das – Breath of the Heart

2002: Aerosmith – O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits

2002: Red Hot Chili Peppers – By the Way

2002: Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around

2002: Audioslave – Audioslave

2002: System of a Down – Steal This Album!

2002: Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Rahat

2003: The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music (exec.)

2003: The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium

2003: Limp Bizkit – Results May Vary

2003: To My Surprise – To My Surprise (exec.)

2003: Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Streetcore

2003: Jay-Z – "99 Problems"

2003: Rage Against the Machine – Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium

2003: Johnny Cash – Unearthed

2003: Paloalto – Heroes and Villains

2003: Krishna Das – Door of Faith

2003: Manmade God – Manmade God (exec.)

2004: Johnny Cash – My Mother's Hymn Book

2004: Slipknot – Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)

2004: The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Armed Love

2004: Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz – Crunk Juice

2004: T.H. White – More Than Before (keys)

2005: Weezer – Make Believe

2005: System of a Down – Mezmerize

2005: Audioslave – Out of Exile

2005: Shakira – Fijación Oral Vol. 1 (exec.)

2005: Limp Bizkit – Greatest Hitz

2005: Neil Diamond – 12 Songs

2005: Johnny Cash -The Legend of Johnny Cash

2005: System of a Down – Hypnotize

2005: Shakira – Oral Fixation Vol. 2 (exec.)

2006: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium

2006: Dixie Chicks – Taking the Long Way

2006: Johnny Cash – American V: A Hundred Highways

2006: Slayer – Christ Illusion (exec.)

2006: Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds

2006: God Dethroned – The Toxic Touch

2006: U2 – U218 Singles

2006: Johnny Cash The Legend of Johnny Cash Vol. II

2007: Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight

2007: Poison – Poison'd!

2007: Luna Halo – Luna Halo (exec.)

2007: Gossip – Live in Liverpool (exec.)

2007: Dan Wilson – Free Life (exec.)

2007: Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One, Rakim – "Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been)"

2007: Vanessa Carlton - "Heroes & Thieves"

2007: Coheed and Cambria - "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow"

2008: Ours – Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy

2008: Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark

2008: Weezer – Weezer (Red Album)

2008: Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things

2008: Metallica – Death Magnetic

2008: The (International) Noise Conspiracy – The Cross of My Calling

2009: Gossip – Music for Men

2009: Pete Yorn – Back & Fourth (exec.)

2009: The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

2009: Brandi Carlile – Give Up the Ghost

2009: Slayer – World Painted Blood (exec.)

2009: Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses "Top Shelf" edition (2009 re-release) "Summer Breeze" (Rick Rubin Mix)


2010: Johnny Cash – American VI: Ain't No Grave

2010: Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle

2010: Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns

2010: Josh Groban – Illuminations

2010: Kid Rock – Born Free

2011: Adele – 21

2011: Red Hot Chili Peppers – I'm with You

2011: Metallica – Beyond Magnetic

2011: Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns+

2012: Linkin Park – Living Things

2012: Howlin' Rain – The Russian Wilds (exec.)

2012: ZZ Top – La Futura

2012: The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter

2012: Lana Del Rey – Paradise

2012: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP

2013: Linkin Park – Living Things +

2013: Black Sabbath – 13

2013: Kanye West – Yeezus (exec.)

2013: Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (exec.)

2013: Jake Bugg – Shangri La

2013: Linkin Park – Recharged

2013: Lady Gaga – Artpop

2013: The Avett Brothers – Magpie and the Dandelion

2013: Red Hot Chili Peppers – I'm Beside You

2014: Jennifer Nettles – That Girl

2014: Ed Sheeran – X

2014: Angus & Julia Stone – Angus & Julia Stone

2014: Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

2014: Linkin Park & Alec Puro - Mall

2014: Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

2014: Yusuf – Tell 'Em I'm Gone

2015: GoldLink – And After That, We Didn't Talk

2016: Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

2016: Various – Star Wars Headspace

2016: James Blake - The Colour in Anything

2016: The Avett Brothers – True Sadness

2017: Billy Corgan – Ogilala

2017: Jovanotti – Oh, vita!

2017: Eminem – Revival

2018: Ruen Brothers – 'All My Shades Of Blue'

2018: The Smashing Pumpkins – Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.

2019: Santana – Africa Speaks

2019: Jovanotti – Jova Beach Party

2019: Jovanotti – Lorenzo sulla Luna

2019: Kae Tempest – The Book of Traps and Lessons

2019: The Avett Brothers – Closer Than Together


2020: The Strokes – The New Abnormal

2021: Imagine Dragons – Mercury – Act 1

2021: Santana - "Peace Power", "America for Sale", "Mother Yes"

2022: Jovanotti - Mediterraneo

2022: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Unlimited Love

2022: Imagine Dragons - Mercury - Act 2

2022: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Return of the Dream Canteen

2022: Neil Young and Crazy Horse - World Record

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