Music mastermind Rick Rubin, co-founder of Def Jam and co-president of Columbia Records, was recently revealed to be executive producing Kanye West's sixth studio album, Yeezus. While his association with the album has been rather unknown, he opened up to the Wall Street Journal to explain in more depth what him and the college dropout have been doing in preparation for next week's release.
After three hours of listening to what Rubin thought was "the finished album at three weeks before the last possible delivery date," he felt that it still "hadn’t yet come into focus."
Rubin stated the following on his initial listening of Yeezus:
Many of the vocals hadn’t been recorded yet, and many of those still didn’t have lyrics. From what he played me, it sounded like several months more work had to be done. 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.
According to Rubin, West "wanted the music to take a stripped-down minimal direction... always examining what we could take out instead of put in."
Rubin also told the WSJ that Kanye lets his art do the work, on the question of why he hardly puts any effort in promotion of his albums, such as releasing no music videos for any of his singles prior to release.
On West's method during sessions, Rubin recalls a rather astounding story:
We were working on a Sunday and the album was to be turned in two days later. Kanye was planning to go to Milan that night. Five songs still needed vocals and two or three of them still needed lyrics. 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. A remarkable feat. He had total confidence in his ability to get the job done when push came to shove.
Rubin calls West a "true artist," making hip-hop "a grander, more personal form because of his contributions."
Rubin ends the interview with the following note:
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. Kanye proceeds on the road less traveled and I applaud him for it.
This interview cultivates so much more curiosity as to what listeners are to expect from Yeezus. Thus far, it sounds like Kanye's unique style and undeniable talent are unrestrained and that this album will deliver upon its release next Tuesday, June 18th.
The interview in its entirety can viewed on the Wall Street Journal's official website.