I HEART RADIO: He has coined himself the great “Reducer”. However, his imprint on hip hop can not be reduced. Rick Rubin established one of the greatest record labels of all time, which we know as Def Jam and has been going ever since. His sound has been requested by the greats of our time. From LL Cool J and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Kanye West and the Dixie Chicks to Mick Jagger and more. Rick Rubin is the guru of sound. He is also one of Questlove Supreme’s most awaited and anticipated interviews. Yes, class is back in session so take a seat! MORE
RELATED: When [legendary record producer] Rick Rubin first picked up the Lucite guitar his mother bought him when he was a high school freshman, it wasn’t to play like George Benson. He was into Johnny Ramone. The person who taught him how to play guitar was Steve Freeman, his high school audio-visual instructor. Freeman, who describes himself as a hippie, recalls: “Even back in high school, Rick was always Mr. Self-Promotion who could get anything he wanted. He was listening mostly to AC/DC and punk rock when he found out that groups like the Clash had learned how to play their instruments something like a month before they formed a group. So Rick thought, ‘Why not me?’ ”
Rubin practiced to early Ramones LPs and after three months, he could play just as fast. After another three, he could play faster, which meant better. Around his sophomore year, he formed the Pricks. In addition to speed, Rubin admired punk’s ability to swindle record companies. The Plasmatics’ television demolition publicity stunts appealed to the magician in him, and for a while he hung out with their mohawked guitar player Ritchie Stotts. With the school’s four-track recorder, Rubin made Pricks cassettes. His goal was to play CBGB, upset people, start fights, and get thrown out. It worked.
Freeman may say harsh things about Rubin, but as with most others, it’s spoken not with resentment, but with awe. “His father once had an easy-credit furniture store. Like his father, Rick knows how to get poor people to buy things. When he was in high school, Rick didn’t hang out in browntown [Long Beach’s black neighborhood], But he’s imitative and knows how to change people, He’s made the Beastie Boys into his alter ego — they never cursed or got high before they met Rick. He had more friends than many kids, but he looked down on a lot of people, too. Some resented him because of his car, others because he could get A’s without studying. Even back then, he knew how to use the system.” MORE