Let’s face it, Rick Rubin is that dude. Plain and simple. Rick Rubin got Black Sabbath to return to its roots, he crashed Kanye West’s new album in 15 days, he’s responsible for Adele’s 21 and much, much more. The hit-maker recently got intimate about his last 30 years—and how he’s about to make history—with Andrew Romano of Newsweek. Read a few excerpts below and be sure to head on over to thedailybeast.com for the insightful article.
How did you come to work on Yeezus?
Kanye called me. I’d just finished working at the studio for about two months on another album, and I was getting ready to go away on vacation for a couple weeks. Then he called up and said, “Can I just come play my album?” And I said, “Sure.” I always like to hear what he’s working on. So he came over to my house in Malibu. We listened. I thought I was going to hear a finished album, but actually we listened to probably three and a half hours of works in progress.
What was the process like during those 15 days? How did you find a direction for the album?
There was so much material we could really pick which direction it was going to go. The idea of making it edgy and minimal and hard was Kanye’s. I’d say, “This song is not so good. Should I start messing with it? Can I make it better?” And he’d say, “Yes, but instead of adding stuff, try taking stuff away.” We talked a lot about minimalism. My house is basically an empty white box. When he walked in, he was like, “My house is an empty white box, too!”
When he came to you with the record, did you have a sense of what needed to be done?
Initially, he thought there were going to be 16 songs on the album. But that first day, before he even asked me to work on it, I said, “Maybe you should make it more concise. Maybe this is two albums. Maybe this is just the first half.” That was one of the first breakthroughs. Kanye was like, “That’s what I came here today to hear! It could be 10 songs!”