Rick Rubin Explains How Def Jam Started In His NYU Dorm Room

Def Jam Recordings was founded 30 years ago by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons in Rubin’s NYU dorm room. The label would feature acts such as Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, L.L. Cool J and Public Enemy, and brought the burgeoning genre of Hip Hop to the masses.

The early imprints of Def Jam’s records actually have Rubin’s college hall listed as the label’s address, and Simmons and Rubin even brought Rubin’s roommate on board as a credited intern.

Rick Rubin returned to his dorm room recently for the first time since 1984. In the Rolling Stone mag video Rick Was Here, the legendary producer discusses getting together with Simmons and creating what would become Hip Hop’s most important record label.

“I can’t believe it’s 30 years,” Rubin, who doesn’t look like he has shaved his beard since, says. “It’s really trippy.  It doesn’t feel like that long. I’ll say I don’t normally look back very much, but when I come here, I think of the crazy parties that we had, being threatened to be kicked out for noise complaints, the adventures.”


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