.

Rick Rubin: Finishing Kanye West's 'Yeezus' Seemed Impossible

Producer spent a hectic two weeks working on rapper's new LP

June 27, 2013 1:10 PM ET
Rick Rubin
Rick Rubin
Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage

When Kanye West asked Rick Rubin to help get Yeezus ready for release, the veteran producer didn't think it was feasible to meet West's looming deadline. "To me it seemed impossible what he was asking," Rubin told The Daily Beast. "I remember I wasn't feeling that well that day, and I was thinking, 'Is the music making me sick? I don't feel good about this.'"

After West played him a rough cut of the album that Rubin thought was due out next year, the producer spent two hectic weeks helping West shape the album to meet a deadline that was a mere five weeks away. "We ended up working probably 15 days, 16 days, long hours, no days off, 15 hours a day. I was panicked the whole time," Rubin said.

The New Immortals: Kanye West

The rough cut ran nearly three and a half hours, Rubin said, and West had initially intended Yeezus to have 16 songs. Rubin suggested trimming. "That first day, before he even asked me to work on it, I said, 'Maybe you should make it more concise. Maybe this is two albums. Maybe this is just the first half,'" Rubin said. "That was one of the first breakthroughs. Kanye was like, 'That's what I came here today to hear! It could be 10 songs!'"

Is there a second half to Yeezus on the way? "Might be," Rubin said. 

In the studio, the two began deconstructing the tracks to get the "edgy and minimal and hard" sound West was looking for: When Rubin asked if he could toy with a track, West would say, "Yes, but instead of adding stuff, try taking stuff away."

"We talked a lot about minimalism," Rubin continued. "My house is basically an empty white box. When he walked in, he was like, 'My house is an empty white box, too!'"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com