Def Jam was founded by Rick Rubin in his dorm room in Weinstein Hall at New York University and its first release was a single by his punk-rock group Hose. Russell Simmons joined Rubin shortly after they were introduced to each other by Vincent Gallo. The first single released with a Def Jam Recordings logo was T La Rock & Jazzy Jay’s “It’s Yours.” The first releases with Def Jam Recordings catalog numbers were LL Cool J’s “I Need a Beat” and the Beastie Boys’ “Rock Hard,” both in 1984. The singles sold well, eventually leading to a distribution deal with CBS Records (which would later become Sony Music Entertainment) through Columbia Records the following year. This created a short-lived subsidiary label called OBR Records, catered toward R&B artists — the first artist signed to that imprint was Oran “Juice” Jones, who enjoyed success with his hit single “The Rain”.
Watch founder Rubin go back to the place where it all began for the very first time.
Recently, legendary producer Rick Rubin sat down for a rare hour-long interview with BBC Radio One’s Zane Lowe at his Shangri-La studio in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning mastermind behind such canonical records as Beastie Boys’ “License to Ill,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” and Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds” talked at length about a variety of topics, from Eminem (“The best rapper of any emcee”) to taking a break from music to get into magic at age eight to artists he’d like to work with (N.W.A., LCD Soundsystem). Check out the highlight below, and then watch the full video.
“I’m an independent-minded person, yet there are few examples of totally independent artists who have had the impact on the world as artists who have had relationships with big companies . . . I’ve not yet seen the independent side be able to take it to that level. Even in the case of Radiohead, they were already on a major label, and they had broken on a major label. So for them to do things independently, they already had that platform. I’m open to it happening, but I haven’t seen it yet.”
In an interview with BBC’s Zane Lowe that will air next week, legendary producer Rick Rubin confirmed that he’s working the follow up to Kanye West’s Yeezus. NME reports that they are currently “looking at vocal ideas” for the album.
In the interview, Rubin also recalls how surprised he was at West’s speed in releasing Yeezus:
“There were loads of great ideas and there were many many tracks and we listened to everything together. He originally came over and said ’I wanna come play you my new album’ and I thought we’d be listening to a finished album. Then we listened to about three hours of music, most of which didn’t have vocals, and at the end I was like ’wow, so what’s it gonna be?’ I’m thinking it’s a year away and he was like ’well, I’m putting it out in like 5-6 weeks.’ It was just a funny conversation because it was completely normal to him, it’s just the way he works … today, Kanye West is coming in and we’re starting looking at vocal ideas for things for the next album.”
From Rolling Stone:
Talk a little about your daily TM practice.
Typically, I’ll wake up, sit up in bed, and do 20 minutes. When I wake up in the morning, usually the remnants of dreams are still very present in me, and it takes me a minute to get to be me again. I’m a little lost when I wake up. TM helps me center and ground myself. When possible, I do it again before dinner. Then the evening starts as more of its own time, and not just a continuation of the busy work day. Although sometimes it’s a busy night.
What, go in a studio in night?
I try not to do that anymore. Now, we typically start working at noon, and are usually out of the studio at six — if things are really going good, seven. If things are not going so good, five. We don’t beat a dead horse. I meditated in the car on the way here, and I missed the exit.
Do you think your own creativity has changed over the years?
It’s always intuitive, but over time, the craft becomes better. In the beginning, I was a complete novice, and now I’m a complete novice with 30 years of experience. There’s wisdom that comes with experience. I would do certain things in the early days that wisdom would have prevented me from doing, and those were probably good things too! When I started in music, it was only about a drumbeat and words. That was about my level of understanding, and then over time, I started understanding more of the elements that could be used. It’s just more tools in the toolbox: this song would sound good if it had a bigger production, and this song would sound good if it was stripped down, and knowing the difference.
Beggars Archive has set a July 30 release date for a two-disc set from The Cult on CD and vinyl called “Electric Peace”, which will pair “Electric” with the abandoned “Peace” album, tracks from which have been released over the years on “The Manor Sessions” EP, as “Electric” B-sides and on 2000’s “Rare Cult”.
In 1985, The Cult enjoyed breakthrough success with the single “She Sells Sanctuary” and the album “Love”, establishing themselves as a new breed of alternative rock band. When it came to recording a follow-up, the band booked into The Manor studios in Oxfordshire with Steve Brown again producing the album. By the end of October 1986, the album was recorded, the masters assembled and it was given the title “Peace”. However, the band weren’t happy with the final results, which seemed too polished. Appreciating the rawness of RUN-D.M.C.’s “Walk This Way”, the band contacted producer Rick Rubin to remix the lead track, “Love Removal Machine”. Rubin agreed to work with the band but only on condition that the track was entirely re-recorded. The result was a sparse, dry, riffing version that captured the sonic excitement the band were looking for. Enthused by the results, the decision was made to abandon the expensive “Peace” recordings and re-record the entire album in New York with Rick Rubin. The new tracks would become The Cult’s third album, re-titled “Electric”, and a multi-million seller.
Tracks from “Peace” were used as single B-sides and some of the alternative versions were issued on an early CD, “The Manor Sessions”, but it wasn’t until the limited “Rare Cult” box set in 2000 that fans got to hear the full album correctly sequenced. The box rapidly sold out so “Peace” has been unavailable for 13 years.
“Electric Peace” track listing:
CD/LP 1 – “Electric”
01. Wild Flower
02. Peace Dog
03. Lil’ Devil
04. Aphrodisiac Jacket
05. Electric Ocean
06. Bad Fun
07. King Contrary Man
08. Love Removal Machine
09. Born To Be Wild
11. Memphis Hip Shake
CD/LP 2 – “Peace”
01. Love Removal Machine
02. Wild Flower
03. Peace Dog
04. Aphrodisiac Jacket
05. Electric Ocean
06. Bad Fun
08. Zap City
09. Love Trooper
11. Groove Co.
The Cult will promote the release by performing the entire “Electric” album at shows in the USA (starting late July) and Europe (October).