Chuck D joined in the Rick Rubin conversation on Friday (January 20) following the Def Jam founder’s interview with 60 Minutes. At one point during Rubin’s conversation, he told Anderson Cooper, “I don’t have any technical ability and I know nothing about music.” Par for the course, Rubin’s comments became a popular topic of discussion, with many failing to understand what he actually does in terms of production. As Rubin explained to Cooper, it’s all about a “feeling.”
The Public Enemy legend expounded on the subject, writing on Twitter: “On Rick Rubin I will tell you this. Art is what you feel no one should tell you what Art should come out of you. He gets that. Many artists want things in exchange for their art from love to money. A whole other thing. Rick feels you out in a sea of others wanting the same thing.”
And Chuck D would know. Signed to Def Jam in the 1980s, Public Enemy released multiple albums with Rubin, including Yo! Bum Rush The Show (1987) and It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988). Rubin found similar success with Beastie Boys’ License To Ill, LL COOL J’s Radio and later, Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt”—to name a few.
Despite Rubin’s collection of hits and trophies, his 60 Minutes interview left a lot of people perplexed. Even Anderson appeared surprised by Rubin’s revelations, prompting him to ask what exactly Rubin was getting paid for. Rubin replied, “The confidence that I have in my taste, and my ability to express what I feel, has proven helpful for artists.”
Speaking to Pigeons and Planes in 2021, Run The Jewels’ El-P described Rubin as a “floating presence” with a gift for active listening.
“He would come by and listen and it’s really rare that you notice someone is really f###### listening,” he said. “He would come by, barefoot, cross his legs, close his eyes and just listen and really take it in and really give feedback. He was really excited about the music we were doing.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis echoed those sentiments, telling Cooper, “He is the end all of listeners. That is what has made him one of the greatest producers of all time in any genre of music – his ability to hear things. He listens, and he walks away, and he knows the drum pattern. I’m like, ‘How do you know that?’ He hears it all.”
Rick Rubin is currently promoting his new book,