He may well look like the kind of vagrant who accosts you in a sidestreet looking for spare change or to alert you to the dangers of a yet unknown alien civilization, but one thing is for certain, Rick Rubin knows about music. The iconic Def Jam producer has been involved with some of the most impressive albums in hip hop history.
Aside from his impeccable work on Beastie Boys’ License to Ill, Rubin has found fame creating work for LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, Sir Mix-A-Lot and plenty more. He also shared a particularly brilliant professional connection with Run-DMC. Having worked with the group o several projects, Rubin is best-placed to offer a chance at perhaps their finest ever album.
In an interview with guitar company Gibson back in 2008, Rubin took the time to list eight of his favourite albums of all time. An unapologetic classic rock fan and metalhead, Rubin’s personal tastes would somehow both defy and inform his later production career. It’s the primary reason Rubin selected his favourite Run-DMC album.
Strangely enough, the album Rubin picked isn’t one that he worked on during the fruitful eighties but their fire-breathing self-titled debut LP. With his selection, Rubin notes the album is a huge influence: “This album is very bare-bones. It probably influenced my hip-hop production more than anything else.”
Released in 1984 on Profile Records, the album was produced by Russell Simmons and Larry Smith and is one of the original groundbreaking albums in hip hop history and could stake a claim for being regarded as one of the most important debut albums of all time. Dedicated to the seminal DJ June Bug, the album is a massive stepping stone for everyone involved in hip hop, with Rick Rubin no different.
The album would lay the foundations for the mainstream appeal of hip hop, allowing new generations to gain access to a new world of music. The single ‘Rock Box’ became the first rap video on MTV, and, with it, Run-DMC became household names.
Listen below to Rick Rubin’s favourite Run-DMC album.