Rick Rubin Offers Insight Into His Favorite Records From D'Angelo, James Blake, Kanye West + More In Extensive Genius Annotations
Rick Rubin should be known to most as your favorite producer’s favorite producer, having championed the big beat and been at the forefront of every movement in hip-hop and r&b for over 30 years. Kinda like the rap-game Miles Davis, but with a taste for the rugged&raw that’s placed him behind the boards for artists like The Beastie Boys, Jay Z, Kanye West, James Blake and even the late Johnny Cash. Luckily for us all, he hasn’t lost those decades of musical memories in the fast life. Instead, he’s offered up some keen insight into some of his favorite cuts from a storied career on Genius‘ annotation platform. In some cases, those include cuts he hasn’t even worked on, ie D’Angelo‘s turn-of-the-century masterpiece Voodoo, which got his stamp for timelessness. Below you can read some of the most compelling notes from the mystical music man known as Rick Rubin, but you’ll have to hit the link to see them all. Take care in keeping your head above water, this shit runs DEEP.
On Kanye’s writing process and “Only One” :
“Kanye is a combination of careful and spontaneous. He’ll find a theme he likes quickly, and then live with that for a while, not necessarily filling in all the words until later. At the end, he’ll fill in all the gaps.
He was upset at one point when I said that he wrote the lyrics quickly. He’s right — they percolate for a long time, he gets the phrasing into his brain, lives with it, and then lines come up. It definitely starts from this very spontaneous thing.
On Only One, a lot of those lyrics came out free-form, ad-libs. The song is essentially live, written in the moment. Some of the words were later improved, but most of it was stream of consciousness, just Kanye being in the moment.”
On James Blake’s influence:
“There are so many records now where it’s about really, really heavy sub-bass, maybe a hi-hat, and just a voice.
I think a lot of it is the James Blake influence. I feel like he’s really influenced everybody a lot. I know in the artist community everybody loves Blake. James Blake is spectacular, I love him all the time. Live, he’s even better than on record.”
“I don’t think there’s an album I’ve liked more than I’ve liked Voodoo in the fifteen years since it came out. I just think it’s spectacular.”