Out of all the major break-ups in Hip-Hop from the Fat Boys to Roc-A-Fella, one of the most crucial ones was the split between Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, the co-founders of Def Jam Records.
Russell Simmons sat down with DJ Vlad recently to share why exactly Rick Rubin left Def Jam Records in 1988, just five years after he founded it.
Rubin started Def Jam in his New York University dorm room in 1983, with Simmons joining the company shortly after. The acts they signed and produced [Run DMC, Beastie Boys] went on the make history and shape Hip-Hop music. But, history tells us that a power struggle ensued years later between Rubin and then-newly appointed Def Jam president Lyor Cohen.
With so many chefs in the kitchen, the story as to why exactly Rubin left the company has been muffled. But here, Simmons shares his side of the story as to why the relationship fizzled.
From the interview:
“Well, if he’s making Slayer and I’m over here making Oran ‘Juice’ Jones where’s the common thread? Neither one of us. We should have been in the studio making Run DMC, that’s what I think. We should’ve made the next Run DMC album. He wasn’t really ready to make Public Enemy because they didn’t want anybody near them. They were like, ‘Get the f*ck away from us. All of you n*ggas,’ and they made the second Public Enemy album [It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back] the greatest record Def Jam ever made.”
Rubin would go on to found Def American Recordings and release albums with Geto Boys, Chino XL, Sir Mix-A-Lot and a plethora of rock acts. Rush also goes on to share why he also wound up leaving Def Jam to focus on other business ventures and how he has managed to avoid getting caught up in rap beefs throughout his illustrious career.
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