June 14, 2013


Rick Rubin Recalls Mad Dash to Complete Kanye West's 'Yeezus'

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Über-producer Rick Rubin has given the first specific details on his executive producer role for Kanye West's upcoming album Yeezus. Emailing with the Wall Street Journal, Rubin says he and Kanye began working together only three weeks before the album's due date. During their first session, Rubin expected to hear a nearly finished project. "We ended up listening to three hours of partially finished pieces. The raw material was very strong but hadn’t yet come into focus," Rubin says. "From what he played me, it sounded like several months more work had to be done."

Damn, 'Ye certainly has a flair for the last-minute. But it gets even crazier. One Sunday when Kanye had a flight to catch to Milan, five songs remained vocal-less and several even needed lyrics. "[Kanye] said, 'Don’t worry, I will score 40 points for you in the fourth quarter,'" Rubin recalls. "In the two hours before had to run out to catch the plane, he did exactly that: finished all lyrics and performed them with gusto. A remarkable feat. He had total confidence in his ability to get the job done when push came to shove."

Rubin sounds impressed—and dare we say inspired—by Kanye's artistry. "He is pure in his art and in a form where so many choices artists make are often the result of business consideration. Kanye chooses to let his art lead. ... I like it anytime an artist follows his own vision of a project and doesn’t use the cookie cutter template expected of most artists." And where does Rubin, one of the very few humans who has heard Yeezus, imagine the album will take Kanye's legacy? "He is a true artist who happens to make music under the wide umbrella of hip hop. … Hip hop is a grander, more personal form because of his contributions, and hopefully his work will inspire others to push the boundaries of what’s possible in hip hop." Just when you thought your expectations couldn't ratchet any higher, Rick Rubin has to go and say something like that. How many seconds until June 18, again?

For a little Yeezus teazus, check out Kanye West and Rick Rubin recording "I Am a God":