13. RICK RUBIN
By: Keith Murphy
With his Woolly beard and eccentric mannerisms, Rick Rubin may resemble a cult leader. But the veteran producer and American Recordings label head is really a music deity whose studio reach extends to hip-hop, heavy metal, country, rock, and beyond. As if the New York native’s groundbreaking '80s run as founder of rap’s most influential label Def Jam wasn’t enough to secure his legacy, the man who supplied Run-DMC’s signature guitar-fueled bigbeat and signed endless game-changing MC’s, starting with LL Cool J, clearly desired more.
By 1991, Rubin switched it up, producing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ commercial breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1994’s Grammy-winning comeback album by the Man in Black himself Johnny Cash. Nine years later the mercurial mind would supply Jay-Z with the throwback rock-rap mash-up “99 Problems,” then produce on 2012’s best-selling album, Adele’s 21, nine years after that. None of this should come as a surprise.
DJ Premier, producer and DJ, one half of Gang Starr says:
“Rick Rubin’s range is genius. To be a white guy stepping into a black man’s world of ghetto music at that time was really unheard of unless you were an executive. But Rick was more than that. He was a guy in an [NYU] dorm room who believed that this new hip-hop sound was going to go places. [Then Rubin] stepping out of hip-hop and messing with Johnny Cash to Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Dixie Chicks is a no-brainer for him because he understands that there are no boundaries in music.”