On top of his game in the middle
to late 1980s, Rick Rubin merged his love of rock and roll
and heavy metal to the street sounds of hip hop and rap.
The result of this marriage was one hit after another for
Def Jam Records. You don't need to have a golden ear for
samples to detect the guitar riffs that Rick added to songs
by LL Cool J as well as the
Beastie Boys. Rick was well ahead of the pack when it came
to metal rap sound which has now been taken even further
by contemporary acts.
In an August 2005 conversation with Beastiemania.com Tim
Sommer said the following about what he recalled about
the early conversations he had with Rick Rubin about the
Beastie Boys. "I was very good friends with Rick Rubin.
I had first met him when he was in 11th grade, and I suspect
I influenced his decision to come to NYU and move into Weinstein.
I probably influenced his decision to become involved with
the Beasties. Although again, this is more of a hunch than
anything I can prove or remember. It must sound weird that
I do not remember this for sure, but I was involved with
so much music/music business stuff in those days that something
like this which just didn't seem that important at the time
escapes my complete recall. I do know for sure that we discussed
the possibility of his becoming involved with the Beasties,
but I can't quite remember the role I played in the discussion.
For all I know, I may have attempted to dissuade him. I
was not a fan of the Young
and the Useless."
Rick though was not in anyway dissuaded though, on the
Beastie Boys' album Licensed to Ill, Rick is credited
not only as the producer, but also as co-writer. With Rick's
contacts in the world of metal, it was easy to bring in
Kerry King of Slayer to play
lead guitar on the Beastie Boys' anthem "No Sleep Till
Brooklyn." Rick promoted the Beastie Boys nonstop from
1985 until their split with Def Jam following the 1987 Licensed
To Ill world tour. It was Rick, under the name DJ Double
R, that performed on stage with the Beastie Boys as they
opened for Madonna on her Like
A Virgin Tour. Sensing he was on to something big and controversial,
Rick went into the studio with the band to record "She's
On It". The "She's On It" video featured
Rick and the Beastie Boys chasing girls and getting into
trouble. What may have seemed innocent at the time, was
in fact the launch pad for the skirt chasing chaos that
would encircle both Def Jam and the Beastie Boys within
the year as Licensed to Ill.
The cross over success of Licensed to Ill put Rubin
on the map as one of the best producers in he business.
Yet with the Beastie Boys leaving Def Jam without a follow
up to their break through album, tension between Rick and
Russell Simmons developed.
Each had a different vision of where Def Jam and their stable
of artists should be in the context of popular music. Rick
came to an agreement that he would leave Def Jam in Russell's
hands, while starting another label Def American Records.
The "Def" was later dropped and the label simply
became American. American never became a hip hop icon like
Def Jam, however a couple great albums with ties to the
Beastie Boys were released. For example, DJ Kool's Let
Me Clear My Throat as well as Milk's
Never Dated (which featured Adrock
While being called upon to produce
tracks for rock bands such as Weezer and Audioslave, Rick
Rubin can still score with hip hop fans like he did with
Jay-Z's monster hit "99 Problems." Speaking of
Jay-Z, many online fans of the Beastie Boys sat up and took
notice when it was called to their attention that footage
from Jay-Z's movie "Fade to Black" actually depicts
Mike D, Rick Rubin, and Jay-Z
all hanging out together in the studio. That scene led many
of us to believe that the "ill" feelings which
may have existed between Diamond and Rubin in the past,
have been shelved for the time being.