Rick Rubin: "I Know Nothing About Music"

BYGabriel Bras Nevares6.6K Views
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The legendary producer isn't fooling anyone, but he had some insightful thoughts on his status in the music industry.

Rick Rubin, the legendary producer whose influence is still heralded as gospel, said that he knows nothing about music. In a recent interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes, he explained how he has no technical knowledge of music production. Moreover, he had some insights as to why his style and taste is so sought-after... and successful.

SANTA MONICA, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Rick Rubin attends the premiere of Endangered Spirit's 'Bunker77' on November 01, 2017 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/ Getty Images)

“Do you play instruments?” Cooper asked the Def Jam co-founder. “Barely,” he replied, to which Cooper responded almost incredulously: “Do you know how to work a soundboard?”

“No. I have no technical ability, and I know nothing about music,” Rubin stated. Cooper laughed, as we're sure many did when they heard those words. Furthermore, given his track record (Kanye West, Run-DMC, The Strokes, Johnny Cash, Black Sabbath, and Eminem just to name a few), this seems preposterous. Still, the 59-year-old identified why he stamped his name into the game.

“I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I’m decisive about what I like and what I don’t like," he expressed.

“So what are you being paid for?” Cooper asked. “The confidence that I have in my taste and my ability to express what I feel has proven helpful for artists,” the Beastie Boys producer said humbly.

In a previous interview with Channel 4 News, the producer highlighted the importance of singularity and not comparing yourself to others. Moreover, such advice likely fueled some of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Some are License to Ill by The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. However, more recent examples of Rubin's genius are Ye's Yeezus and Slim Shady's The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

“We each have a singular voice, we each have our own voice,” he told Channel 4. “What I do is different than what you do…we all do something different and they’re not comparable. They have nothing to do with each other. It’s apples and oranges.

"So if you make something today and you think it can be better," he concluded, "tomorrow you can improve it. You can continually make the thing you’re making better. You can learn and practice and do anything.”

Still, what do you think of Rick Rubin supposedly knowing "nothing" about music? However you may feel, let us know in the comments down below. Also, as always, stay tuned to HNHH for more wisdom from the music industry's genius gurus.


About The Author
Gabriel Bras Nevares is a music and pop culture news writer for HotNewHipHop. He started in 2022 as a weekend writer and, since joining the team full-time, has developed a strong knowledge in hip-hop news and releases. Whether it’s regular coverage or occasional interviews and album reviews, he continues to search for the most relevant news for his audience and find the best new releases in the genre. What excites him the most is finding pop culture stories of interest, as well as a deeper passion for the art form of hip-hop and its contemporary output. Specifically, Gabriel enjoys the fringes of rap music: the experimental, boundary-pushing, and raw alternatives to the mainstream sound. As a proud native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, he also stays up-to-date with the archipelago’s local scene and its biggest musical exponents in reggaetón, salsa, indie, and beyond. Before working at HotNewHipHop, Gabriel produced multiple short documentaries, artist interviews, venue spotlights, and audio podcasts on a variety of genres and musical figures. Hardcore punk and Go-go music defined much of his coverage during his time at the George Washington University in D.C. His favorite hip-hop artists working today are Tyler, The Creator, Boldy James, JPEGMAFIA, and Earl Sweatshirt.