17. Rick Rubin returned.
He started with LL, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys before his relationship with Russell Simmons went south and he left the rap world to work on rock music, but the rap world never really left him.
This year, Rick Rubin, the white Jewish guy who started Def Jam Records out of his dorm room at NYU, returned to hip-hop in grand fashion: he was summoned to be the master reducer for Yeezus, he offered guidance to Jay-Z for Magna Carta Holy Grail (when he wasn’t snoozing on the couch), and he produced four songs on Eminem’s new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
He showcased his multidimensional ability to explore the future of music while also flexing the breadth to reach back into the past of rap and rock to create new sounds. He is the all-seeing eye, the all-knowing Yoda, the Buddha of Beats. He’s always welcome back to hip-hop. Now we just hope he sticks around for a while.
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