“When something rings true, it’s because it harkens back to some truth in the universe.”
– Rick Rubin
In early 2013 Kanye West asked the legendary producer and Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin to help complete his new album Yeezus. With 5 weeks to meet West’s deadline and a rough cut of 16 unfocused and unfinished tracks, the task seemed impossible. West’s creative process often bordered on perfectionist and he could not seem to find the essence of the his sound.
When Rubin showed up the albums rough cut ran nearly three and a half hours and he suggested trimming. “That first day, before he even asked me to work on it, I said, ‘Maybe you should make it more concise. Maybe this is two albums. Maybe this is just the first half,” Rubin said. In the studio, the two began deconstructing the tracks to get the “edgy and minimal and hard” sound West was searching for. The duo worked for 16 days, 15 hours a day, with no days off. With two days left five songs still needed vocals and two or three of them still needed lyrics. In a final flurry of remarkable creative collaboration, West and Rubin finished those songs and the album in a two hour session. The final cut of the album featured 10 songs for a total length of forty minutes, only 19% was left from the original three and a half hours of music. Rubin had broken down West’s compositions to their simplest form, and the results were epic.
When Yeezus was released it received rave reviews from music critics, many of whom named it among West’s best work and commended its brash direction. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and eventually went platinum. Yeezus was the most critically acclaimed album of 2013, appearing on 61 meta-critic top 10 lists and being named first on 18 of them. When asked about their collaboration Kanye said, “Well I didn’t reduce it. Rick Rubin reduced it. He’s a reducer, not a producer.”
Rubin’s trademark as a producer is a “stripped-down” sound, he eliminates unnecessary production elements and works with the artist to expose the truest version of themselves. According to Rubin, “there is tremendous power in using the least amount of information to get the point across,” simplicity is the key to his success. By peeling away all the unnecessary elements Rubin helps the artist manifest the the purest form of their magic. Rubin doesn’t create simplicity to the point of meaninglessness, quite the opposite, he creates simplicity that holds great meaning from it’s intense focus and purity.
Rick Rubin’s process with musicians is exactly the process we are espousing to manifest your magic. He is quoted as saying “People are so different. It’s almost like you need to go through the process, discover and unlock what it is that makes that band that band. And a lot of times they don’t know it.” The same applies to most individuals and organizations, and they don’t know it. As magicians it is our job to identify the core points of differentiation aka purpose and aligning actions with that purpose so the truth can break through. The only way to do this is to cut away the noise, to simplify brutally in order to create beautifully. When you achieve meaningful levels of simplicity in yourself and your process the universe will conspire with your essence to create magical things.Read More...