Rick Rubin: "I Have No Technical Ability and I Know Nothing About Music"

Rick Rubin: "I Have No Technical Ability and I Know Nothing About Music"

Published Fri, January 20, 2023 at 9:12 AM EST

Def Jam Records co-founder and producer Rick Rubin appeared as a guest on a recent episode of 60 Minutes where he spoke about his unorthodox approach to production.

Rubin, who has produced and/or launched the careers of more than 120 artists including LL COOL J, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, Slayer, and Johnny Cash, revealed to host Anderson Cooper that he barely plays instruments and doesn't know how to operate a mixing console.

"I have no technical ability and I know nothing about music," he said. "I know what I like and what I don't like and I'm decisive about what I like and don't like."

When asked what exactly he does as a producer Rubin replied that his confidence in his taste and his ability to express himself has proven beneficial to many artists.

In the interview filmed at Rubin's Malibu recording studio, it's obvious that it is void of Gold records and the other trophies that adorn many studios. Rick calls such things a distraction.

"If you start doing something with the goal to achieve [Gold records and awards] then you're not focused on making this beautiful thing," he said. "It undermines the purity of the project."

Rick explained his position as a "reducer" instead of a producer and he explains that his job is to listen to the music and determine exactly what is necessary.

"Getting it down to that essence to start with is really helpful in understanding what it is. I like the idea of getting the point across with the least amount of information as possible," he explained.

At Def Jam's inception, Rubin stated that his goal was to create rap records that sounded like the park jams that predate rap records. On "I Need A Beat," by LL COOL J - Def Jam's first release, the production credit read "Reduced by Rick Rubin," causing many to believe that it was a typo.

Check out a snippet from the interview above.

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