No, that picture above is not Ernest Hemingway and Steve Earle’s love child. It is in fact uber-producer Rick Rubin, the man who has successfully navigated alt-rock, hip-hop, country, and just about every other genre in music with startling success. Currently on Rubin’s radar is helping Kanye fine-tune Yeezus, easily the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of 2013. This is interesting, because Kanye has always been a bit of a “do-it-your-selfer” which has served him very very well. It makes sense though to bring in the man who produced some Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Run D.MC. when Kanye is aiming for a more minimalist experience (explained more fully in the New York Times interview). This minimalism Ye is going for highlights an overriding theme for the albums on our list: Strip down artists to their most raw and basic qualities and build the album up from there. Rubin may not have one musical style he can be attached to, but there does seem to be a way of making music that is very clear.
We tried to limit this list to albums Rubin had a large hand in producing, leaving off the likes of Jay-Z’s Black Album and JT’s FutureSex/LoveSounds where he only produced one track each. We also left off sure top-5 Lucinda Williams album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road because Rubin only handled the mixing of the album. The only other major qualm people might have with this list is the lack of a Slayer album. Well, I personally just don’t like metal, and so even if Slayer is the cream of the crop, I’m not gonna listen to it. Enjoy the list, and as always feel free to comment on albums you think we missed or erroneously included.
10. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker
Interestingly, I read Rick Rubin wouldn’t allow his name to be put on as producer of Shake Your Money Maker until it sold one million copies. Was he not happy with the outcome? Did he think it was destined for commercial and/or critical failure? I don’t know, but I do know The Black Crowes in 1990 did The Stones better than The Stones were doing themselves. With the alternative scene blowing up at the time, Shake Your Money Maker was a nice respite from the uniformity of most everything else out there.
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