Rick Rubin: My Life in 21 Songs

From LL Cool J to Kanye West, Slayer to Tom Petty, Johnny Cash to Dixie Chicks, producer reflects on more than three decades of challenging music's status quo

Kanye West, "Bound 2" (2013)

That's a good one. The whole song was written without that main sample; it was a last-minute thing. The song had kind of a lot of R&B music in it. And Kanye gave marching orders of "Take out anything you want, but don't add. Just take away." Like, "OK." And before that, we listened to the sample together and thought, "Hmm, maybe there's a way to integrate this into the song." So we started by getting the sample to work in the song, and then taking out as much stuff as we could, and then in the chorus reducing what was this whole musical thing, just this sort of one ugly, distorted bass note. I was thinking like Alan Vega and Suicide, that kind of noise-synth minimal vibe. So that was the idea behind the chorus: Take it from this sort of R&B thing and turn it into this kind of post-punk, edge thing. And the lyrics he wrote were so good and funny. It just turned into a really good record [laughs]. The sample is so good.

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