Rick Was Here, a short film on the NYU dorm room where Def Jam started
October 20, 2014 2:55 PM   Subscribe

30 years ago, Rick Rubin was a college student, living in NYU's Weinstein Residence Hall, room #712. It was there that Def Jam Records was formed, shifting the focus of hip-hop from the MCs to promote the DJs, too. Rubin and his label quickly outgrew the dorm, and he hasn't been back since. Recently he returned, and the adventure was captured and put into context by Rolling Stone Film's mini-documentary, Rick Was Here. New footage rolls alongside old, with some animations to bring a few audio-only stories to life.

On the earliest of early Def Jam Records, you can see the mailing address "5 University Pl. #712," capturing some notion of how small Def Jam really was in the beginning. If you'd like more, Salon points out two much more in-depth books on the history of Def Jam: Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label (Amazon; Google books preview), and Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God (Amazon; Google books preview).
posted by filthy light thief (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Rick put out a couple records by his own band, Hose. My copy of the Hose LP, which has a mock-Mondrian cover, has green tape around the edges. It had once been part of the collection of Maximum Rock'n'Roll (image), but at one point Tim Yohannan purged the collection of records deemed not punk rock enough, and some of them, including this one, were sold to Amoeba Records, where I bought it. An earlier Hose 7", Mobo was distributed by 99 Records. The band also had two tracks on a Touch & Go compilation, God's Favorite Dog, which also has rarities by Big Black.
posted by larrybob at 3:29 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

(it's "Rubin," innit?)
posted by mwhybark at 3:46 PM on October 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

Double R foots the bill, most definitely?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:11 PM on October 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I can't think of Rick Rubin without remembering the story of Joe Cole.
posted by dr_dank at 4:27 PM on October 20, 2014

Ugh, Weinstein is the WORST. The footage here only kind of captures what a claustrophobic, prison-like shithole that place is. The only upsides were that it had a better-than-average dining hall on the first floor and it was super close to the handful of buildings that pass for NYU's campus.

Having spent some time attempting to socialize with friends in that dorm, I'm all the more impressed that Rick Ruben was able to find the energy and headspace to do something so ambitious while he was living there.

My cynical-NYU-alumni hat goes off to you, sir.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:42 PM on October 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Weinstein's other claim to fame is that it holds the only Chik-fil-A in NYC.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:51 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm reading Bob Mould's autobiography right now and he tell a story of crashing in that room. Rick plays "I Need a Beat" for him and Bob says "I'm just not hearin' it, Rick."

Golly, he was a pretty man wasn't he.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:08 PM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ed Piskor's excellent Hip Hop Family Tree recently addressed LL Cool J's mix tape arriving at Weinstein.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:13 PM on October 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

(it's "Rubin," innit?)

(Except on Mondays, when copy editors are ... ah, fook.)
posted by filthy light thief at 5:33 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was reading the Hip Hop Family Tree strip this weekend, and it made me want to track down Def Jam’s orignal 12″ singles. All this is from my browser history:

T La Rock — It’s Yours
LL Cool J — I Need a Beat (DJ001)
The Beastie Boys — Rock Hard (DJ002)
Jazzy Jay — (This) Def Jam (DJ003)
MCA And Burzootie — Drum Machine (DJ004)
LL Cool J — I Want You (DJ005)
Jimmy Spicer — This Is It (DJ006)
Hollis Crew — It’s the Beat (DJ007)
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:41 PM on October 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Rubinated, carry on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:01 PM on October 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Confirming Narrative_Priorities' assesment of Weinstein Hall. I went into a Weinstein room once and I swear that the walls were made of actual unadorned cinderblock.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I lived in Weinstein I loved it. Met a lot of people there and it felt very convivial. Spent a lot of time in the courtyard talking about music and other creative endeavours, so it really does not surprise me what Rubin made there.

I actually walked past Weinstein this morning!
posted by Captaintripps at 8:06 AM on October 21, 2014

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