Russell Simmons Recalls Meeting Rick Rubin & Starting Def Jam
Uncle Russ reminisces on starting the historical imprint with Rick Rubin in the '80s.
Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons recently spoke to Global Grind about starting Def Jam Records, established in 1984. Though the story of launching the label in an NYU dorm room is well known in the Hip Hop community, Russ recalls first meeting co-founder Rick Rubin at local hotspot Danceteria.
“Rick Rubin, I seen him at Danceteria. He was a member of the Beastie Boys. He was DJ Double R. I met him at Danceteria because Jazzy Jay brought him to me,” he recalled. “Jazzy Jay was on the record ‘It’s Yours’ by T La Rock. It was the best record on the radio. We talked at Danceteria and he played me his drum machine. He had so many beats.”
From there, Simmons and Rubin began a partnership, pressing vinyl and shipping them to tastemaking record stores.
“We started a record label. The record label put out LL’s first record,” he continued. “The record stores didn’t know what was in the box because it said Def Jam. It was a core community who went to that cool store that bought the cool records, and that record was next after ‘It’s Yours.’ Rick owned and created that label, Def Jam, that was him.”