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Jewish Hall of Fame: Rick Rubin

For our second inductee into the Hall of Fame, we are proud to present Rick Rubin, one of the most important music producers of all time

By: Zak Edwards
Published: November 13th, 2013 in Culture » Music » News
Rick Rubin

Since the dawn of time, or at least since it's been recorded on paper, Jewish men, women and children have contributed to various industries and fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn.

With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those men and women who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

But what of those who have already made a significant contribution to the world as we know it? Those Jewish men and women who have greatly influenced the way we live today, but have never received proper accreditation?

Welcome to the Jewish Hall of Fame.

Shalom Life's newest weekly feature, the Jewish Hall of Fame is a way to recognize the remarkable advancements these members of our community have made on today's society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today's younger generation, many of whom are unaware that they even exist, let alone that they are Jewish.

As such, Shalom Life’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife with your suggestions.


Hall of Fame Member: Rick Rubin

Born: May 10, 1963, Lido Beach, New York

Famous For: Producing some of the most important records of the past thirty years and being integral to popularizing hip hop.

Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem.

Heard of any of these guys?

Well they all have one degree of Jewish separation in common: music producer megastar Rick Rubin.

It’s hard to imagine, but one of the most important figures in hip hop is a Jewish punk musician with only rudimentary instrument skills. Def Jam Records founder Rick Rubin has spent more than thirty years producing for some of hip hop’s most important artists, and pop music in general.

Plus he grew this beard:


With a very conservative estimated net worth of over $250 million, Rick Rubin is easily one of the single most successful music producers of all time, but he came from humble beginnings.

Born Frederick Rubin in Lido Beach, New York to a shoe wholesaler and housewife, Rubin got his start with punk outfit The Pricks, a band famous for getting kicked off stage for fighting members of the audience in record time.Since then, Rubin’s mostly stayed off stage, using his punk roots to help popularize hip hop and influence most popular music since his start in the eighties.

For starters, he founded legendary record label Def Jam, one of hip hop’s most important and integral institutions.

For his influence behind the scenes in popularizing hip hop and making some of our favourite catchy tunes, we think Rick Rubin deserves a spot in our Jewish Hall of Fame.


If you recall popular early 90s and late 80s hip hop acts like the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC, who incorporated distinct rock sensibilities into their music, you'll realize that much of that sound, certainly the chart-topping versions, came from Rubin’s production styles.

The Beastie Boys particularly, starting out as a punk band before adopting their rap styles, owe a debt to Rubin, who produced Licence to Ill, one of early hip hop’s most important albums. As for Run-DMC, Rubin got them together with Aerosmith for “Walk This Way,” an immensely important song for the still blossoming genre.

Rubin has also been influential outside of hip hop, having helped bands like System of a Down, Slayer, and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers with some of their biggest albums. Perhaps most famously, Rubin produced Johnny Cash’s American series, which saw the legendary music star covering songs by groups as diverse as Simon & Garfunkel and this heart-wrenching edition of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt:”

Rubin still maintains his punk roots in most of his production, insisting on a stripped down, minimal style that uses few effects and vocal enhancement, moving against dominant trends that have tried to use string sections, backup vocalists, and reverb. Instead, he focuses on minimal styles of instrumentation and naked vocals. In doing so, Rubin can showcase his artists’ raw talents over covering up their faults.

If you were wondering why Eminem's most recent Marshall Mathers LP 2 sounds very different than Em's normal m.o., that's because it was produced by our J Hall of Famer, Rick Rubin.

Same goes for Kanye West's Yeezus, who many argue is West's official anti-pop record and one of the finer hip hop records to be released this year. Yeezus was also produced by Rubin, who, as you can see, has chosen 2013 as his comeback year.

Like our initial inductee, Mel Blanc, Rick Rubin is a Jew who mostly stays out of the spotlight while remaining an integral part to our world. For his contributions to the popularity of hip hop and part in producing some of the biggest albums since the eighties, he makes an exceptional character to add to our Hall of Fame.

Related articles: Jewish Hall of Fame, Rick Rubin, Eminem, Kanye West, Hip Hop, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Justin Timberlake, Public Enemy
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