Rick Rubin: Kanye West Lets His Art Lead

'Yeezus' producer opens up about West's new album

Rick Rubin, Kanye West.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage
June 14, 2013 1:45 PM ET

After weeks of video installations projected on buildings, late-night television performances and rampant speculation, Kanye West's much-anticipated new album, Yeezus, will be released on Tuesday, thanks in large part to producer Rick Rubin. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Rubin talked about West's creative process and revealed a few of the methods behind the madness that is putting out an album.

The rapper recruited Rubin, who has worked with the likes of the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash, just a few weeks before the album was due to help finish several songs and give the album a sense of cohesion before the album was due.

The Hottest Live Photos of 2013: Kanye West

"It was good for me to go to the god, Rick Rubin, and play him my shit, ask him questions and allow him to take this project to an entirely new level," West said earlier this week at a listening party in New York.

After hearing the partially finished album, Rubin agreed to contribute to the project. "From what he played me, it sounded like several months more work had to be done," Rubin said. "I joined the project because after discussing what he had played for me, he asked if I would be open to taking all of the raw material on and help him finish it."

Instead of taking months, they finished it in mere weeks, despite the rapper's complicated schedule. Rubin recalls West promising to complete lyrics and record vocals on five songs, amid a baby shower for pregnant girlfriend Kim Kardashian and a looming flight to Italy. 

"He said, 'Don’t worry, I will score 40 points for you in the fourth quarter.' 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," Rubin said. "A remarkable feat. He had total confidence in his ability to get the job done when push came to shove."

Rubin also applauded West's decision to eschew the usual promotional strategies for releasing an album. "Kanye chooses to let his art lead," Rubin said. "He didn’t want a premeditated commercial [single] for his album as he looks at it as a body of work. 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." 

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

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.


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

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »