producer of multiple genres, most notably rap and heavy metal




Frederick Jay Rubin


March 10, 1963


Long Island, New York

The Studio Albums:

Click on album title to see more detailed DMDB page.

  1. Slayer Hell Awaits (1985)
  2. LL Cool J Radio (1985)
  3. Run-D.M.C. Raising Hell (1986)
  4. Slayer Reign in Blood (1986)
  5. Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill (1986)
  6. Public Enemy Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)
  7. The Cult Electric (1987)
  8. Danzig Danzig (1988)
  9. Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988) *
  10. Run-D.M.C. Tougher Than Leather (1988)
  11. Slayer South of Heaven (1988)
  12. Masters of Reality Masters of Reality (1988)
  13. Andrew Dice Clay Andrew Dice Clay (1989)
  14. LL Cool J Walking with a Panther (?)
  15. Trouble Trouble (1990)
  16. Danzig Danzig II: Lucifage (1990)
  17. Slayer Seasons in the Abyss (1990)
  18. The Four Horsemen Nobody Said It Was Easy (1991)
  19. Trouble Manic Frustration (1991)
  20. Slayer Decade of Aggression (1991)
  21. Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
  22. Danzig Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (1992)
  23. Sir Mix-a-Lot Mack Daddy (1992) *
  24. Red Devils King Kong (1992)
  25. Danzig Thrall: Demonsweatlive (1993)
  26. Mick Jagger Wandering Spirit (1993)
  27. Messiah 21st Century Jesus (1993)
  28. Danzig Danzig 4 (1994)
  29. Johnny Cash American Recordings (1994)
  30. Slayer Divine Intervention (1994)
  31. Tom Petty Wildflowers (1994)
  32. Red Hot Chili Peppers One Hot Minute (1995)
  33. AC/DC Ballbreaker (1995)
  34. God Lives Underwater God Lives Underwater (1995)
  35. God Lives Underwater Empty (1995)
  36. Johnny Cash American II: Unchained (1996)
  37. Slayer Undisputed Attitude (1996)
  38. Donovan Sutras (1996)
  39. Varous Artists Private Parts Soundtrack (1997)
  40. Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson VH1 Storytellers (1998)
  41. Slayer Diabolus in Musica (1998)
  42. System of a Down System of a Down (1998)
  43. Various Artists Chef Aid: South Park (1998)
  44. Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication (1999)
  45. Tom Petty Echo (1999)
  46. Various Artists South Park: Mr. Hanky’s Christmas Classics (1999)
  47. Johnny Cash American III: Solitary Man (2000)
  48. Paloato Paloato (2000)
  49. Rage Against the Machine Renegades (2000)
  50. Saul Williams Amethyst Rock Star (2001)
  51. American Head Charge The War of Art (2001)
  52. Krishna Das Breath of the Heart (2001)
  53. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan The Final Studio Recordings (2001)
  54. System of a Down Toxicity (2001)
  55. Johnny Cash
  56. American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
  57. Red Hot Chili Peppers By the Way (2002)
  58. Audioslave Audioslave (2002)
  59. System of a Down Steal This Album! (2002)
  60. Limp Bizkit Results May Vary (2003) (with Terry Date and Jordan Schur)
  61. Johnny Cash Unearthed (2003)
  62. Krishna Das Door of Faith (2003)
  63. The Mars Volta De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003) (with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez)
  64. Rage Against the Machine Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium (2003)
  65. Paloato Heroes and Villains (2003)
  66. Slipknot Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses (2004)
  67. The Jayhawks (?) (2004)
  68. The (International) Noise Conspiracy Armed Love (2004)
  69. Weezer Make Believe (2005)
  70. Audioslave Out of Exile (2005)
  71. System of a Down Mesmerize (2005)
  72. Shakira Fijación Oral Vol. 1 (2005)
  73. System of a Down Hypnotize (2005)
  74. Neil Diamond 12 Songs (2005)
  75. Shakira Oral Fixation Vol. 2 (2005)
  76. Slayer Christ Illusion (2006)
  77. Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium (2006)
  78. Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way (2006)
  79. Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways (2006)
  80. Courtney Love How Dirty Girls Get Clean (2006)
  81. Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)
  82. U2 U218 (2006)
  83. Linkin Park Minutes to Midnight (2007)
  84. Poison Poison’d! (2007)
  85. Linkin Park A Thousand Suns (2010)
  86. Adele 21 (2011)

* Executive Producer

one of the DMDB’s Top 100 Albums of All Time
one of the DMDB’s Top 1000 Albums of All Time

Key Tracks:


There doesn’t appear to be an official Rick Rubin website, but you can check out the site for Rubin’s American Recordings label.

Rick Rubin


Rolling Stone called him “the most successful producer in any genre” UT and MTV said he is “the most important producer of the last 20 years.” WK Rick Rubin has “amassed a discography that’s more than 90 albums long, a catalogue that’s sold in excess of 100 million.” DL

“Dubbed ‘the king of rap’ two decades ago by the Village Voice,” DL “the barefoot Buddha with the woolly salt-and-pepper beard” UT “was among the key figures behind the commercial and artistic rise of hip-hop, lending his signature rap/metal style to many of the biggest records of the pre-gangsta era.” AMG In 2007, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. WK

Esquire magazine says Rubin is “one of the few industry giants with the confidence to just let artists be themselves.” WK Rubin says his role is “‘to inspire and challenge artists to do their best work, and to do it for the sake of the work as opposed to the ends.” UT

Daron Malakian of System of a Down says, “Rick’s like the song doctor. If you play something for him, it’s like going in for a checkup…the songs always feel better after his suggestions.” DL

Rubin continues, saying “Today’s surplus of lousy albums results largely from the twisted agendas of labels and managers who fixate on deadlines and marketing rather than nurturing talent…I try to…refocus everything on the art and the artist’s truth.” UT

Malakian adds, “Production with Rick doesn’t mean you're going to sit in a studio. It might mean you go to a record store or to the beach. Or you go for a drive. You bond as people first.” DL

Early Years (1963-1984):

Rubin “grew up in Long Island, in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. He was, he says, smothered and spoiled by his parents, Mickey and Linda. His father worked in the wholesale shoe business, but his parents hoped their only child would become a doctor or a lawyer.” DL

He “soaked up ‘aggressive sounds and outlaw music’ after growing up on heavy metal, punk, James Brown, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, oldies radio and doo-wop.” UT “‘I like things that are unique and extreme,’ he says. Steeped in the edgier realms of metal and rap, Rubin retained his Zen vibe.” UT

He “was something of an outcast in school, wearing black leather and sunglasses.” DL “He never tried drugs. ‘It’s the combination of meditating and always being deeply into something. When I was young, I was into magic. Kids I knew did drugs or got drunk out of boredom. I didn’t want to give up my time’.” UT

He “never considered himself a musician” UT even though he had a band “in high school…called The Pricks, and [he] later played guitar in a New York University art-punk band called Hose, influenced by San Francisco’s Flipper.” WK He even got to play “a few gigs at the legendary New York rock club CBGB.” DL

“He enrolled at NYU and had every intention of applying to law school until rap got in the way.” DL “Enamored of what he considered to be black punk rock, Rubin was a regular at hip-hop clubs throughout New York but was disappointed by most of the studio recordings coming out of the burgeoning rap scene…‘I’d buy the new hip-hop records – and in those days you bought all of them, since there were only between three and five singles every week – and they’d be these disco songs with guys rapping on them,’ he says. ‘And most of them were not good. I wondered what it would be like if a record felt and sounded like being at a club instead of trying to sound like a record’.” DL “So as a fan, I started making records I wanted to hear. I didn’t know it was a viable job’.” UT

Def Jam (1984-1988):

“In 1984 Rubin produced his first single, It’s Yours, for T La Rock and Jazzy Jay. Within two months the spartan song -- built around beats, rhymes and little else -- was one of the biggest rap hits in New York. Among those taking notice was Russell Simmons, a music promoter from Queens who also managed his kid brother’s group, Run-D.M.C. Simmons was shocked to discover that ‘It’s Yours’ – which he'd declared the ‘blackest’ song he’d ever heard – was produced by a Jewish kid from Long Island.” DL

Rubin and Simmons “founded Def Jam in 1984” AMG “operating the company out of Rubin’s dorm room” AMG “at NYU’s Weinstein Hall, with Rubin’s parents fronting $5,000 for the venture. Soon, Def Jam landed a $2 million distribution deal with Columbia and the hits began coming, including L.L. Cool J’s marvelously minimalist 1985 album Radio.” DL

Rubin’s approach to “eliminating typical production elements like string sections, backup vocals, reverb, and the like in favor of naked vocals and bare instrumentation” WK made for “an immediate impact, playing a key role in rap’s rise.” UTRadio…consisted of little more than rapping and percussive beats” WK “Rubin’s liner notes credit for that album, instead of the expected ‘Produced by Rick Rubin’, reads ‘Reduced by Rick Rubin’.” WK In making LL Cool J “rap’s biggest solo star,” DL Rubin also “implored [the] aspiring teen rapper to add traditional song structure to his work, figuring that if it worked for the Beatles, it should work for everyone else.” DL

Rubin’s style of “fusing rap with heavy rock” WK would also be a trademark of his early work. “It was Rubin’s idea to have Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith collaborate on a cover of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way…a production credited with both introducing rap-hard rock to mainstream ears and revitalizing Aerosmith's career.” WK

“Rap broke worldwide in 1986” AMG on the strength of “two landmark LPs.” AMG The first was Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell, on which that song was featured, and the second was the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill. “Obnoxious and bratty…, Licensed to Ill, exploded rap’s sonic boundaries (adding punk and metal to the mix) and blew up its demographic demarcations, too, by hooking masses of white suburban kids. Licensed became the first rap LP to land atop the Billboard pop chart.” DL

“A year later, [Rubin] also helmed Yo! Bum Rush the Show, the debut record from arguably the most pivotal act in hip-hop history, the renowned Public Enemy.” AMG

Def American (1988-1993):

“As Def Jam flourished, though, Rubin’s relationship with Simmons suffered. He also began turning his attention back to rock. By late 1988, Rubin divorced himself not just from Def Jam but from the East Coast entirely, moving to Los Angeles to launch Def American.” DL Proving that he was “as impossible to pigeonhole as the starry and swollen catalog of music he has produced,” UT Rubin “signed a number of heavy rock acts” WK and “abrasive artists” DL like “Slayer, Geto Boys, and Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay…who recorded, under Rubin’s production guidance, some of the most shocking, controversial albums of the past 25 years, with unflinching tracks about murder, Satanic worship, necrophilia and Nazism.” DL

“‘I guess edgy things tend to get my attention,’ Rubin says. ‘But it wasn’t the fact that it was offensive that made me like it. There were other offensive records that came out that I didn’t like and wouldn’t support, like 2 Live Crew. The music is what drives me; I just like great art and music, even if it’s great and ordinary. But if it’s great and it happens to be offensive, too, then that makes it even more exciting’.” DL

“Rubin entered into a partnership with Time Warner that was reported to be worth between $75 million and $100 million, and his label jumped out to a fast start with bestsellers from the likes of the Black Crowes and Sir Mix-a-Lot.” DL

“In 1991…Rubin…produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ breakthrough effort, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.” AMG The album’s monster hit Under the Bridge, grew out of “an entry [Rubin] discovered in one of lead singer Anthony Kiedis’s notebooks. It was a poem about overcoming heroin addiction, and Rubin talked the reluctant singer into presenting it to the band.” DL

American Recordings (1993-2007):

In 1993, Rubin “officially dropped the ‘Def’ prefix from the label’s name” AMG and “Def American became American Recordings. Johnny Cash’s career-reviving album of the same name would signify Rubin’s greatest career achievement aside from launching rap into the mainstream. By bringing his stripped-down approach to “the sound of veteran singers and bands, [Rubin] could help them break out of the commercial rut they were currently in.” WK

Over the course of four albums, “Rubin persuaded [Cash] to overhaul such unlikely rock tunes as…Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage and Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus.” UT “Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ sorrowful tune, Hurt, would become the defining song of his later years.” WK

The pair “met in 1993, when Cash was at a low ebb creatively. He felt burned out, and public interest had cooled after Columbia dumped him in 1986.” UT “‘I thought it would be a challenge to find a true legend who wasn’t doing his best and see if we could change that,’ Rubin says. ‘Johnny was the first person I thought of, someone without peer, still capable of good work. He felt lost artistically’.” UT

Rubin worked a similar magic for Neil Diamond, who had “created a cabaret image by drifting from his emotional core as a singer/songwriter,” UT but Rubin “ranks alongside Paul Simon.” UT 12 Songs “was the crooner’s best-reviewed work in decades, landing on more than a few music critics’ best-of-2005 lists; [it] also resonated with fans, reaching the No. 4 Billboard ranking – Diamond’s highest chart position in 25 years.” DL

Diamond acknowledges, “‘I was one of those radio stars killed by videos. It was hard to get back on track. With Rick, I found the right path. He picked up on the vibe of acoustic guitar and understatement, something I haven’t done in years and wasn’t able to replicate until this album’.” UT

“Rubin is probably the only producer in pop music capable of restoring Diamond’s relevance while also making the art-metal band System of a Down sound sublime…Two System albums…headbanged their way to No. 1 [in 2005], and Rubin had a hand in five more albums that reached the Billboard Top 5, plus an eighth that narrowly missed the Top 10…Few producers have that sort of success in a career, let alone a single year.” DL

He won the Grammy for Non-Classical Producer of the Year for his 2006 work with the Dixie Chicks, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Green Day, Johnny Cash, and others.

Columbia Records (2007-):

In May 2007, Rubin was named a co-head of Columbia Records. He co-produced Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight (2007) and A Thousand Suns (2010). In 2009, he won another Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work with Metallica, Neil Diamond, Weezer, and others. He took home the award again in 2012 for work on Adele’s 21.

Biography Source(s):

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Last updated March 8, 2012.