Music Producer Rick Rubin: “I Have No Technical Ability”

Rick Rubin says when it comes to music he has “no technical ability” and he barely even knows how to play an instrument. But it’s his judgment that has earned him his reputation.

Videos by American Songwriter

In a new interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, Rubin talks his abilities.

Whether you’re talking about rock or rap music, Rick Rubin is historically one of the most important people to impact either genre in the United States. The 59-year-old producer and executive co-founded Def Jam Recordings. He also founded American Recordings and is a former co-president of Columbia Records. 

On top of working in the business, Rubin has helped produce major bands and helped to create some of the most memorable songs in American music history, working closely with the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Danzig, Metallica, Slayer, Jay Z, Sir Mix A Lot, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes, Weezer and more. 

He’s done some work with country acts like Johnny Cash and The Chicks. In 2007, Rubin was on Time‘s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Check out an excerpt from Rubin’s interview with Cooper.

In the interview below, Cooper asks, “Do you play instruments?”

“Barely,” Rubin says.

“Do you know how to work a soundboard?” Cooper follows.

“No. I have no technical ability. I know nothing about music,” Rubin says.

Cooper laughs. “You must know something.”

“Well, I know what I like and what I don’t like. And I’m decisive about what I like and what I don’t like,” adds Rubin.

“So what are you being paid for,” Cooper continues.

“The confidence I have in my taste and my ability to express what I feel has proven helpful for artists.”

See the video below.

Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images

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