Rick Rubin is the Buddha of American music.
Rubin, with his Moses beard and predilection for going barefoot, might be as responsible as anyone else for shaping the music industry in the last 25 years. For better or for worse.
And because he doesn’t actually work the boards — Rubin has no technical music training — he really is like a guru, giving advice and opinions through the music-making process.
Now, word from the New York Post is that he’ll be leaving Columbia Records, where he signed on as co-chairman/guru in 2007 to save the label — and the industry, if he’d be so kind.
But looking back on Rubin’s career, expecting him to be a saviour in content as well as form might be a little much. His past work taken in sum shows a producer as flawed as he is visionary.
Soon after these records, Rubin left Def Jam in 1988. With his new venture Def American, he began producing metal, including bands like Slayer and Danzig, and even made a comedy album for the modern troglodyte Andrew Dice Clay.
Rubin continued to work in hip-hop, though the horrocore Geto Boys marked a significant, downward departure from the Beasties and Public Enemy. The Geto Boys' necrophiliac and misogynistic lyrics caused a rift between Rubin and his distributor David Geffen.
After Cash, Rubin went back to delivering metal in pop packaging, making it palatable for a larger audience. In the late '90s and early 2000s, he worked with indulgent rockers the Mars Volta and speed-metal flag-bearers System of a Down and Slipknot.
Reaching into the nu-metal depths, Rubin worked with Linkin Park on two albums. Meanwhile, Def Jam turned over in its grave.
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