Rick Rubin Discusses Working With Kanye West On New Album, ‘Yeezus’

There’s been a ton of news and hype lately leading up to Kanye West’s new album, Yeezus. During his album’s listening party in New York this earlier week, West made the announcement that Rick Rubin is indeed the executive producer on the upcoming album. Kanye West is even on record telling The New York Times, “I’m still just a kid learning about minimalism, and [Rick’s] a master of it.”

Rick Rubin recently spoke with the Wall Street Journal about working with West on his new album.

When and why did you join the “Yeezus” project?

Kanye came over to play me what I assumed was going to be the finished album at three weeks before the last possible delivery date.  We ended up listening to three hours of partially finished pieces.  The raw material was very strong but hadn’t yet come into focus.  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.

How would you describe the new sound he was driving for, and how you did you help him arrive there? 

He wanted the music to take a stripped-down minimal direction.  He was always examining what we could take out instead of put in.  A good example would be the song that became “Bound.”  When he first played it for me, it was a more middle of the road R&B song, done in an adult contemporary style.  Kanye had the idea of combining that track with a cool sample he had found and liked – I removed all of the R&B elements leaving only a single note baseline in the hook which we processed to have a punk edge in the Suicide tradition.

The entire interview can be read via the Wall Street Journal’s website here. You can also check out a teaser video posted by Kanye West on his official website, which contains Kanye recording lyrics to his track, “I Am A God,” while Rubin gives feedback.

Yeezus is due out on June 18 via Roc-A-Fella & Def Jam Records.

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