There is no greater enigma than Rick Rubin working in record production today. As mysterious personally as the Buddhist religion he practices, Rubin has made one thing crystal clear: the records he produces are sonically and stylistically beyond reproach. MTV has called Rubin “the most important producer of the last 20 years,” while Rolling Stone ventured even further, deeming Rubin the most successful “of any genre.” Without a niche, Rubin has taken greater risks than any producer in the record industry over the past quarter century. Pushing his artists into new territory has garnered Rubin seven Grammys, including Producer of the Year in 2007, and made him the most in-demand record producer working today. Now for the first time, Rick Rubin: In the Studio offers the behind-the-scenes stories of how Rubin created hit albums with such diverse legends as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run DMC, Johnny Cash, the Beastie Boys, Audioslave, Tom Petty, Metallica, Danzig, Slayer, LL Cool J, The Cult, Weezer, the Dixie Chicks, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, Jay Z, Neil Diamond, Sheryl Crow, and Slipknot. This book chronicles his meteoric rise, from his early days as DJ Double R in the early ’80s, founding and running Def Jam Records alongside Russell Simmons from an NYU dorm room, discovering and producing the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, to his transition in the early ’90s into a successful independent record executive, signing and producing the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash, to his role as the most influential producer of all time (currently as the co-head of Columbia Records), and his continued successes with rock/metal supergroups Audioslave, Linkin Park, and Metallica. This in-depth look at the life and times of Rick Rubin in the studio and beyond is a must-have for any music fan.
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About the Author
Jake Brown is the owner of Versailles Records and the author of 16 books, including Dr. Dre: In the Studio, Heart: In the Studio, and Suge Knight: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Death Row Records. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
There is no greater an enigma than Rick Rubin working in record production today, but one thing is crystal clear: the records he produces are sonically and stylistically beyond reproach. Rubin has rejected the comfort and complacency of working in a niche, instead taking on artistic collaborations that are truly original and which often lead the artists to their first commercial or critical breakthrough. His career began in hip hop; Rubin co–founded Def Jam Records with Russell Simmons in 1984, producing LL Cool J’s Radio and the seminal 1986 Beastie Boys album Licensed to Ill, not only rap’s first number one album, but also widely credited for launching hip hop as a viable commercial medium. Not only a producer who could launch new groups, Rubin proved early on in his career that he had an ability to breathe new life into old acts, giving Aerosmith a new chapter in their history with &lquo;Walk This Way,&rquo; their Run–DMC collaboration.
Refusing to play it safe, Rubin jumped ship from rap to metal, leaving Def Jam to found his own label, Def American, where he signed and produced groundbreaking acts like Danzig and Slayer. His eclectic taste was nowhere better reflected than in 1987’s Less Than Zero soundtrack. Rubin also proved his mettle as a top A&R man, executive–producing controversial but commercially successful acts like Public Enemy, the Geto Boys, and comedian Andrew Dice Clay. After his work on the hugely successful and critically acclaimed Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Rubin was only seven years into his career and already a living legend for his ability to break a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers into the mainstream while respecting their musical roots and simultaneously pushing them to new heights. Though he worked with legends like Mick Jagger, AC/DC, and Tom Petty in the early 1990s, it was his recordings with Johnny Cash that still stand out as his most astonishing and studied collaboration. A partnership that began in 1993, it gave Cash renewed credibility and its commercial success allowed Rubin to be selective about who he worked with, choosing diverse artists like Donovan, Rancid, Sheryl Crow, and System of a Down and returning to those he’d produced before, most notably on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication.
By the turn of the century, Rubin had invented, reinvented, or re – defined so many musical genres that there was no way to categorize his style — every producer’s dream. Despite Rubin’s stoic persona, the critics had caught on to the producer’s legacy in the making, with USA Today commenting, &lquo;Rick Rubin may be as impossible to pigeonhole as the starry and swollen catalog of music he has produced,&rquo; Rolling Stone singling him out as &lquo;the most successful producer of any genre,&rquo; and Esquire concluding that there were &lquo;four words we trust: Produced by Rick Rubin.&rquo; But the praise and album sales didn’t shake Rubin’s focus as he dedicated himself to artist after artist. In 2002, the Rubin produced Audioslave debut was released and once again he had helped to launch a new statement in rock ’n’ roll: the supergroup. By 2005, MTV would hail him as &lquo;the most important producer of the last 20 years,&rquo; and Rick Rubin continued to live up to that title, by resurrecting the career of pop–crooning legend Neil Diamond, helping to shape the solo career of Justin Timberlake, and working with the Dixie Chicks on their comeback album, Taking the Long Way. Grammy nominations and awards poured in as 2007 began, including a Producer of the Year win, but Rick Rubin, workaholic and recluse, found himself too busy to attend, hard at work on Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight. Not surprisingly, that album was a massive critical and commercial success upon its release. Rubin had already turned his sights to what some argued would be his greatest challenges yet: producing heavy metal monsters Metallica and taking a new position as head of Columbia Records.
As this generation’s most legendary record man remains focused on the future of a business he has been instrumental in revolutionizing, Rick Rubin: In the Studio looks back at more than two decades of sonic supremacy, offering the stories behind volume one of Rubin’s greatest hits.
What People are Saying About This
"With his great beard, Rick Rubin looks as if he could be the lost member of ZZ Top. In reality, he's a music exec of historic proportionshe founded Def Jam Recordsand one of the top producers of our times. The artists he's worked with range from Run-DMC to Johnny Cash. Brown, a Nashville-based music biographer, didn't speak with Rubin, but he did get stories from some of the musicians he produced, bringing readers into the studio for some of the last 25 years' most influential and best-loved albums." New York Post
"Brown's writing style here is likewise breezy and easy to follow, particularly given all the studio details. For students of the recording process, I can't imagine coming across a better read than this one." Blogcritics.org
"It's all here in the only biography available. The author has done an admirable job of assessing Rubin's career without muddying it up with too much sideline rah-rahing." Curled Up With a Good Book (www.curledup.com)
"Appealing to musicians old and new, Rick Rubin: In the Studio is not only a great read, but also a great textbook for anyone interested in a career in music." Abort Magazine
"A smooth read with enough musical jargon to satisfy the musician's curiosity while not overwhelming the folks just looking for a good biography." Synthesis
"The story of a true auteur of the recording studio control room . . . an inspirational read for everyone interested in all that goes into the production of great records." Music Connection
"Pure insight into a genius mind . . . If you are someone who followed the Chili Peppers, Cash, Audioslave, Petty, Metallica, Danzig, Slayer, The Cult, Weezer, the Chicks, Linkin Park, System of a Down or even Neil Diamond, here's a great place to glean great insight into their studio approaches." Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online