Rick Rubin is a $250 million record producer from the United States. He is most known for co-founding Def Jam Recordings with Russell Simmons and serving as co-president of Columbia Records.
He is widely regarded as one of the top record producers working in American music today, having collaborated with some of the most well-known performers of all time.
Early Life and Career Beginnings:
Frederick Jay Rubin was born on March 10, 1963, in Long Beach, New York. His parents, Michael and Linda, reared him at Lido Beach, New York.
He began performing in a band with several pals as a student at Long Beach High School, and ultimately a teacher assisted him in forming the punk band The Pricks.
Rubin launched Def Jam Records his senior year, using his school’s four-track recorder. He also founded the punk band Hose, and one of the band’s songs was released by Def Jam Records in 1982.
Hose was a part of the punk movement in New York City and even toured the Midwest and California. They shared the stage alongside Meat Puppets, Hüsker Dü, Circle Jerks, Butthole Surfers, and Minor Threat, among others.
Rubin became more interested in New York City’s hip-hop movement, and the band disbanded in 1984.
Rick Rubin became friends with Zulu Nation’s DJ Jazzy Jay and began studying hip-hop production.
They collaborated on T La Rock’s song “It’s Yours,” which was released on Def Jam. Rubin was introduced to Russell Simmons, a concert promoter/artist manager, by Jazzy Jay, and the two collaborated on JJ Cool J’s “I Need a Beat.”
Def Jam Records:
In 1984, when Rubin was a student at New York University, the original iteration of Def Jam Records was created, with both Rubin and Simmons on board.
Rubin went outside the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem to scout and discover rappers in Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island, among other areas.
Rubin signed the hip-hop group Public Enemy as a consequence of his search. Rubin is also linked to the Beastie Boys, who he helped push away from their initial punk style and towards rap. Rubin has also worked as a producer for Run-DMC.
A combination of rap and hard rock characterizes his producing work during this time period. “Walk This Way,” a 1986 collaboration between Run-DMC and Aerosmith, is possibly the finest example of this.
That album is acknowledged for not only introducing the rap hard rock genre to new ears and a wider audience, but also for helping to resuscitate Aerosmith’s career.
Rubin quickly transitioned from rap to rock music, and his first metal band collaboration was with Slayer, for whom he produced the album “Reign in Blood” (1986).
Rubin’s other major efforts at this time include “Electric,” the Cult’s third album, which he produced, and “Tougher Than Leather,” a Run-DMC film that he directed and co-wrote.
Def American / American Recordings:
Rubin and Simmons, on the other hand, separated up in 1988 when Rubin had a falling out with Def Jam’s president at the time, Lyor Cohen.
While Simmons continued with Def Jam in New York, Rubin relocated to Los Angeles and founded Def American Records.
He continued to work with rap artists such as Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and Run DMC, although his work during this time period was mostly in the rock and metal genres. Danzig, Masters of Reality, The Four Horsemen, Wolfsbane, and The Jesus and Mary Chain were among the rock bands he signed.
He conducted a funeral for the term “def” after learning that it had been admitted into the dictionary, lamenting its passage into the mainstream.
He then changed his new label, which had previously been known as Def American Recordings, to simply American Recordings. Johnny Cash’s album “American Recordings” (1994) was the label’s inaugural project, and Cash’s following five albums were all issued under the company.
Cash’s album “The Man Comes Around,” released in 2003, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and also won a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
Rubin has also collaborated with musicians on projects for other companies, notably six Red Hot Chili Peppers albums from 1991 to 2011, which got sixteen Grammy nominations (six wins) and earned Rubin the 2006 Producer of the Year Grammy for his work on “Stadium Arcadium” (2006).
Mick Jagger’s “Wandering Spirit” (1993), Lords of Acid’s “Voodoo-U” (1994), Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” (1994), AC/”Ballbreaker” DC’s (1995), Donovan’s “Sutras” (1996), Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” (2008), and Shakira’s two-album project “Fijacion Oral Vol. 1” and “Oral Fixation (2005).
Columbia Records and American Recordings Revival:
In May 2007, Rubin was appointed co-head of Columbia Records. He won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical twice while at Columbia Records: once in 2007 for his work with the Dixie Chicks, Michael Kranz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Green Day, and Johnny Cash in 2006, and again in 2009 for his work with Metallica, Neil Diamond, Ours, Jakob Dylan, and Weezer in 2008.
Rubin was also nominated for a Grammy in 2012 for his work as a producer on Adele’s album “21.” (2011).
In 2012, he departed Columbia and relaunched his label American Recordings as a Republic Records offshoot. The Avett Brothers’ “The Carpenter” (2012) and ZZ Top’s “La Future” (2012) were the first albums he released on the new label (2012).
Rubin is well-known for owning a number of significant Los Angeles residences.
Rick purchased a gated 9,300 square-foot estate above the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood for $2 million in 1992.
Soon after, he spent $785,000 for “The Mansion,” a four-bedroom allegedly haunted mansion in LA’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood. While recording their blockbuster album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” the Red Hot Chili Peppers stayed in this home.
Rubin turned his studio into a full-time recording studio after that event, and it has since been utilized by Audioslave, Maroon 5, Linkin Park, Slipknot, The Mars Volta, and others.
Shangri La and Malibu:
Rick has multiple residences in Malibu, two of which unfortunately burnt to the ground during the Woolsey Fire in 2019. Rick began again in Malibu in October 2019 with the acquisition of an $8.1 million ocean-view property.
Starting in the late 1990s, Rick leased a Malibu property for nearly a decade. He purchased his first property in 2011, a one-acre estate not far from his 2005 rental. He paid $2 million for a renowned property named Shangri La in 2011.
Shangri La has always been seen as more of a recording studio than a residence. The home was supposedly utilized as an upmarket bordello in the 1950s.
The house was used to shoot episodes of “Mr. Ed” in the 1960s, and the actor/horse really resided in the stable. Shangri La was acquired by a music producer in the 1970s and transformed into a full-time music studio.
Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton were among the performers who employed it during the following decade or so.
Artists would usually rent the house for weeks or even months at a time, living there while working on their songs. Shangri La rose to fame after appearing in Martin Scorsese’s 1978 film “The Last Waltz,” which was about the band.
Rubin has been on a never-ending renovation/upgrade hunt since he became the owner. He saved Bob Dylan’s old tour bus and turned it into a hangout spot. He is said to provide fresh design concepts to his architects on a regular basis.
His staff re-paints the studio and production area white on a regular basis to keep it looking spotless and new. Kanye West, like many other contemporary performers, has recorded here.