and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin surprised those who old enough to remember the
days he was involved in hip-hop, by working with Jay-Z on his Black Album.
Jay-Z, the first
hip-hop act that Rubin has worked with in over 15 years, managed to snag the
rapper for his farewell album. Rubin produced the song "."
In a rare interview
featured rollingstone.com Rubin, who
founded Def American and signed the influential Geto Boys, before changing his
label name to American, revealed why he decided to leave the hip-hop.
"When I started
there really was a community of people who were doing it for the art,"
Rubin said. "With the success of our records I started hearing a lot of
records that sounded like our records, and it didn’t really feel like being
part of a creative community anymore. But since then there have been a lot of
things that have been revolutionary and great in hip-hop. N.W.A would be a great
example of a band that really radically took it to the next level in the time
since I left hip-hop."
Rubin said that
his admiration for N.W.A. was so great, that he visited them in the recording
studio as they were recording one of hip-hop’s most influential albums, Straight
Rubin said that
he would have signed the group to his label, but they were already signed to
Rubin gave two
reasons as to why Def Jam was such a successful label. He said that their early
records were the first to capture the true spirit of hip-hop and that early
hip-hop music wasn’t structured the way it is today, until Def Jam came along
and introduced a few changes to make the music more marketable.
"At the point
we got involved in hip-hop, a song would be between six and nine minutes long,
and it would be more like a Jamaican toasting record — it wouldn’t really have
a chorus, it would just be rapping for nine minutes and telling a story. That
format would be more difficult for a suburban audience to digest. We picked
up strong songwriting from listening to the Beatles and applied it to this new
form of music."
Rubin is currently
working on a peace themed album, which features Weezer, System of a Down, Sheryl
Crow and others.