Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Spotify
  /  01.18.2023

Who would have thought that an iconic producer like Rick Rubin had no musical knowledge after all of these years? The legendary producer — whose career includes work with JAY-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and Public Enemy, as well as rock acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath — said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that he “barely” knows how to make music or even play an instrument. Similar to host Anderson Cooper, this type of news would catch any living human by surprise, given Rubin’s contribution to music over the past four decades.

In excerpts of the lengthy conversation that have surfaced online, the superproducer reflected on his time with the iconic Johnny Cash. He also spoke on his time with LL Cool J during his early years, and turning his dorm room at NYU into Def Jam’s studio and office. When Anderson asked if Rubin played any instruments, he replied, “Barely,” adding that he does not know how to work a soundboard. “I have no technical ability,” Rubin said. “And I know nothing about music.”

Cooper said, “You must know something,” to which Rick responded, “Well, 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.” “So what are you being paid for?” the host pressed. Rubin answered, “The confidence that I have in my taste and my ability to express what I feel has proven helpful for artists.” The 59-year-old has won nine Grammy awards and helped craft some of the biggest rap records ever made, lending his “reduced by Rick Rubin” touch to LL Cool J’s Radio, Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and, more recently, Kanye West’s Yeezus.

Check out the clip below.

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