For the longest time I've been wanting to make several compilations focused on the true hip-hop pioneers in the early to late '80s - I did have the Bomb Squad compilation a few years ago but there's a lot of incredible producers that are not named Marley Marl that are almost forgotten today. Back then if you wasn't inventing and reinventing yourself on a regular basis, you'd soon be forgotten no matter how skilled an emcee or producer you were. Rubin is not only one of the true pioneers of what in the mid- to late-'80s was then described as a "new school"; favoring a heavily stripped down sound that paved the way for the minimalist boom bap that would be the epitome of the hardcore hip-hop album in the early to mid-'90s. Rubin's first album as a producer / or rather "reducer" as he was credited on LL's first albums and singles in the mid-'80s. The duo went to work on 18-year old LL Cool J and his 1985 debut "Radio"; which to me, together with his "comeback" album "Mama Said Knock You Out" sounds as refreshing, innovative and original as any other hip-hop album of their respective eras. More than that, both albums should be considered two of the finest and most groundbreaking albums ever created. Only a year later, in 1986, Rubin also produced the debut albums of Beastie Boys "Licensed to Ill" and Run DMC's "Raising Hell". Both which are often considered the respective group's best work to date, and also helped them propell into the mainstream (or in the case of Run DMC, even more). Alll three of these LP:s are must haves for any serious hip-hop collector and showed that Rubin not only had a signature sound, but he also made sure each album and artist had their own signature sound on display on their respective LP:s.
After being the executive producer on Public Enemy's three first albums (albeit not in any studio capacity) he parted with Def Jam in favor of his own Def Americana; a more rock-focused imprint. This was kind of a natural move considering that he had already as far back as in 1987 prouced albums for the likes of trash metal band Slayer. Since then Rick Rubin has become one of the most highly sought after producers in the game, producing from every one to Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Audioslave, Slipknot, AC/DC, Dixe Chicks, Rage Against The Machine, and many, many more.
Although Rick Rubin has never cut down a bit on his production habits, instead focusing on his talents on broading his horizons, it's his stripped down, hard punch hip-hop beats that made him a legend among us beat and rap heads. In usual Lost Tapes order I have decided to cut down any song included on any of the three albums mentioned above, as they are definitely records you should all have in your collection. Another thing is that Rubin quite recently again started producing hip-hop records for artists like Jay-Z, Eminem and KanYe West - though I decided to focus this compilation on the period between the recording of these three main albums and Everything Rubin produced for Def Jam during his rather short stay there. If you are not familiar with those 2000:s cuts, I strongly recommend you check out his original version of "Better Than I've Ever Been" (2006), "Bezerk"/"Rhyme & Reason"/"Love Game" by Eminem (2013) and the entirety of KanYe's "Yeezus" (2013). While he didn't actually produce any music per se on the latter, he did help out KanYe a whole lot in what he likes saying reducing the album into the state that it was eventually released in over a 16-days period. Check out this video for some interesting information about that. But overall I'm just glad and hope that this is a trend that means Rubin will slowly but surely get more and more back to hip-hop and rap music. Until then, let's revisit 16 tracks from Rubin's early Def Jam Days, including remixes, 12" only singles and B-sides that he produced from 1984-1989 for his label artists. It's a great listen if you're into '80s hip-hop, and should of course be played LOUD!
01. T La Rock - "It's Yours"
02. LL Cool J - " I Need A Beat" [Original]
03. LL Cool J - "Rock The Bells" [Original]
04. Beastie Boys - "Rock Hard"
05. Hollis Crew "It's The Beat"
06. Run DMC - "Christmas in Hollis"
07. Jazzy Jay - "Def Jam"
08. Junkyard Band - "The World"
09. Jimmy Spicer - "This is It"
10. Jazzy Jay - "Cold Chillin' in the Spot"
11. Run DMC - "Jam Master Jammin'"
12. LL Cool J - "Going Back to Cali"
13. LL Cool J - "Jack The Ripper"
14. Run DMC - "Mary, Mary"
15. Queen - "We Will Rock You" [Remix Reduced by Rubin] [*]