Rick Rubin Calls Eminem "Best Rapper," Kanye West "Consistently Great"

Rick Rubin recalls being approached by Kanye West about working on "Yeezus," says it was "a funny conversation."

As part of a nearly hour-long interview with BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, producer Rick Rubin spoke on his relationship with everyone from Detroit rapper Eminem to the late Johnny Cash, his transition from magician to musician in his early years, and more.

To kick off his conversation with Lowe, Rubin detailed the moment he was recruited for Kanye West’s sixth studio album, Yeezus. He says the G.O.O.D. Music emcee visited him to play what he thought was a finished product only to hear three hours’ worth of vocal-less music.

Rubin later doted on Kanye, calling the Windy City wordsmith “the most consistently great, creative person in music.”

“There were loads of great ideas and there were many, many tracks. And we listened to everything together,” Rubin said. “We listened—He originally came over and said ‘Hey, I wanna come play you my new album.’ And I thought we were going to listen to a finished album. And then we listened to about three hours of music. Most of which didn’t have vocals. And at the end of it it’s like ‘Wow. So, what’s it gonna be?’ I’m thinking it’s a year away. And he’s like ‘Well, I’m putting it out in—’ I think it was like six weeks, five. ‘It’s coming out in five or six weeks.’ It’s like ‘Really?’ I said ‘I have another album that’s a lot further along than this and it’s not coming out for probably five months.’ And he said ‘Really?’ It’s just a funny conversation. Cause it was completely normal to him. It’s just the way he works. And then we listened to some music together, other music. And at the end of it he said ‘Would you just help me finish it? Let’s go in together.’ He said ‘I think we can probably do it in five days.’ It ended up being more like three weeks or a little over three weeks.

“From a creative standpoint I can’t think of anyone who has come out—who has been more consistently great from the time they started making music until now,” he added. “I can’t think of anyone else. I think he’s the most consistently great, creative person in music today.”

In regards to Eminem, who he worked with on Em’s most recent release, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Rubin detailed the intricate way in which the Detroit rapper both listens to music and creates it.

“Maybe the best rapper of any emcee,” Rubin said. “He may be the best…He’s very hyper-critical of detail. And hears the music in a very deep way. And hears internal rhythms in tracks. And writes words to work on so many different levels rhythmically within what’s going on musically. To where if we change a little thing in the track to better the track it might not work in his mind how it relates to what he’s saying and how he’s phrasing. His phrasing is so glued to the music and written that way. Like he just sees it as not just riding the flow. It’s much more complex. And he’s always writing. He’s always writing—Not when he’s making an album. He’s always writing in life. He’s got these notebooks he carries around and he’s always writing. And he said to me he knows probably 99 percent of it, 98 percent of it will never be used for anything. But he wants his facility to be there so that when he needs to write something it’s like practice.”

In addition to his newly-released interview with Rick Rubin, Zane Lowe has also interviewed Kanye West and Jay Z. His interview with Rubin can be found below (via Complex).

RELATED: Kanye West & Rick Rubin Working On "Yeezus" Follow-Up

106 Comments

  • xz

    Em is GOAT...all real emcees know, its no sercet

    • Anonymous

      ^ That is a damn lie.

    • Anonymous

      One of them, his fatal flaw is he doesn't make people music, no one's rocking that music in society Even the girls talk about how they leave yall to hit the club because they cant dance to eminem

  • hmmm

    when is the last time any of you stans partied to eminem in the club,,,,of he dont make party music,,lol,,,,,whens the last time any of you felt like starting some politically correct shit,,because your boy said it in a recording,,,fuck tha police,,,, fight the power,,,stop the violence,,,save the babies,,,anything like that,,,,,,all we hear is his personal demons,,,,in different ways on different tracks,,,,,em is at his best when he's clowning and being funny,,,like the brain damage track from his first joint,,,he's nice,,,,but he's not the best,,,,CHILL!!!!!

  • hmmm

    yeah em is the best,,,for a white guy,,,there are a lot of artist that are technically lyrically,and all that,,,but can em stand up for the essence of hip-hop,,,can em fight the power,,,can em stand up for the black and brown,,,,no cause he is doing a black art form,,,,,can em start a new style of music,,,and get black people to embrace his style,,,,,,if em is all that,, im waiting for the next style or genre of music for him to create,,,,,technically,,his style is ,,,big pun big daddy kane,,,anybody who rhymed fast,,,,,lyrically,,,rakim etc..story telling slick rick,,,,,he embodies all of them styles so how can he be the best when he copied patterns,,, the best set trends for others to emulate,,,nobody is rhyming like eminem,,,,,sorry stans but he's not the best of all time,,,he's the best white boy,,and sales dictate that

  • Anonymous

    eminems last 4 albums in order of technical rap skill, lyricism, content, hooks, flows, cadences, syllables, and production over all. Recovery MMLP2 Relapse (accents and all the gay shit really ruined it) Encore

  • OVO

    I see that Whites and fags stick together. Drake is the best and the most consistent ever. Rick doesn't know greatness truly is because he has never worked with Drake or the rest of the OVO crew.

    • Moaf

      LOL Are you fucking kidding me? Drake the guy who clings to every NBA star and looks like their excited little girlfriend?!? Hahahah drake is horrible, and Eminem would rape drake in a freestyle

    • Anonymous

      Remove Aubrey's dick out your mouth and realize he ain't the best or the most consistent.

    • ATOM_AMBITIOUS

      STFU you sound stupid. read a book..

  • jenniferebrousseau

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  • djblur

    if kanye is so great why does he use other producers so much now...he needs rick rubin and daft punk to help him crank out more albums faster...? and Q-tip is doing his whole entire next album. I'll give it to him, he's a really great producer (beat maker) but he has some of the worst lyrics ever... and I can hear when he makes cuts in his vocals all the time.. and he breathes way too loud on the track.. He needs a new vocal engineer.

  • Anonymous

    the lightening of hip-hop as well as rap.

  • stop it

    Niggaz still on Tupac's dick in 2014. That nigga was average.

  • ha

    stop it no ones bumpin either of these washed up rappers in 2014.. sure em got wordplay and yez got the crazy ideas, but both albums worth 1 spin. both rap bout the same shit .. complainin about fame and just abunch of nonsense..if Eminem could turn his wordplay into a hot song with a good beat and some bars hed be back in my mind

  • ....

    No matter who says it, whether it's Rick Rubin, Paul Wall or whoever, Eminem will never be the "Greatest of all time"

  • Wizz

    Really...nobody really cares what people think at the end of the day. Em, in the industry, is recognized as being the best. And not just in rap. I come from a country in which if I play DMX,Nas, Jada, Outkast ...whoever basically, in my car, they give me a weird ass look. But when I play Em, they always recognize, even if it's from an album like Infinite. I have been in most European countries and trust me, I haven't been in one that hasn't played some Em on the radio! at least once per day. And I'm talking about old shit. Shit you can't basically play on the radio. Fuck it, I even heard Evil Deeds on a radio station smh. I don't regard Em as the best, he is in my top 5 but not the best. But lets face, nobody will ever be as big as he is...

  • Andre.CO

    LOL at people calling MMLP2 garbage........ Have you guys not heard Bad Guy??? One of the best story telling hip hop songs in recent memory. What about Groundhog Day??? Go listen to Groundhog Day and tell me Em doesn't spit some serious shit in just a straight hip hop level anymore. What about Baby, Brainless, or Evil Twin??? Classic shady. Crazy lyrics, just dope. The 3rd verse on Love Game....c'mon now he went the fuck in. And Rap God??? Name me another rapper that can showcase that many varieties of rhythms and flows throughout a 6 minute song, all with crazy internal rhyme patters, and punchlines throughout....... And it's not just the rappity rap tracks.....he had great emotional songs too like Legacy, Beautiful Pain, Headlights. MMLP2 was easily his best album since Eminem Show. Encore was mediocre with some great shit, his WOAT shit. Relapse was decent, good rhymes, but those accents ruined the experience half the time. Had some great tracks, some terrible ones too. Recovery was back on point lyrically as well as his voice, no accents thank god. But the production was lacking, and it felt a little safe. Still nothing as bad as what was on Encore or Relapse. And Hell the Sequel, he and Royce went the fuck in on every track. Only track that was weak was Lighters, it just didn't fit. And then MMLP2 was mostly all great or good. Sure The Monster and Berzerk were mehhhhh, but god damn he had some great shit on there.

    • Dee

      Completely agree! Well said Andre!

    • Moaf

      Lmfao! Are you kidding me? "No one wants to dance, eat, shop or have a good time to eminem"? HAHAHAHHAAH buddy, who has the most played gym tracks in the world right now? Eminem. Who has the sickest party songs IF YOU'RE NOT TO STUPID AS FUCK TO SEE IT?! Eminem, tell me you dont put on "white trash party" at a party and everyone doesn't start bumpin to it. He has some hype shit but he also raps a lot about real life shit, not pussy ass money and hoe's like every other shitty rapper out there

    • ^

      All three of y'all are wrong about everything.

    • chill stanely

      mmlp2 was just average nothing good. had it been any artist but em the albunm would be considered trash from almost everyone. eminems got word play in 2014 and that's about it..no style, no real shit to talk about, no good beats, and his only rap collabo in like 2 albums was Kendrick lamar and that was a top 3 Eminem song for worst of his career.

    • Anonymous

      ^ don't forget not a damn person drivin to him. only people listen to MMLP2 are people who want to hurt themselves, kittens or rape a baby

    • Anonymous

      Dude one of the reasons why rap heads dont wanna f#ck with em fans 95% of the album has no replay value, as great as eminem raps no one wants to dance, eat, shop, or have a good time to mmlp2, you stans never admit this because you got his dick in ya throat acting like his music is so far superior to all the world gets along and has a damn good time without an eminem song being played, y'all be somewhere isolated engulfed in your dream bromance swearing them songs are the greatest compositions ever recorded Then wonder why you aint got friends & can't get pussy.

    • ^

      You got that backwards. You meant to say that INAHB2 is the worst album of 2013. MMLP2>INAHB2

    • Stan Marsh

      MMLP2 was the worst album of 2013. IANAHB2 > MMLP2

  • WWYD?

    Eminem is overrated as fuck. Kanye West is the greatest thing that has happened to the black community

  • Angry Classics

    But Rubin has never worked with Public Enemy.

  • Anonymous

    This article should be more about Rick Rubin being the greatest music producer ever and not about his two comments during the entire 58minute interview Dumbass lying DX

  • cms

    i hate the fact that when anybody calls someone from this decade or the past decade "the best rapper of all time" a million people complain that you arent giving the title to 2pac, biggie, nas, rakim, etc. although they are all great rappers they arent going to hold on to the title of being the g.o.a.t. forever. rap has changed and evolved, and you shouldnt get shit for saying that rap has evolved in a good way and the music is better today than it was in the 90s. nas learned from rakim and added on to what he learned from him to become better than him. rappers now are learning from pac and biggie and nas and jay z so it should only make sense for rap to be progressive. it sounds stupid to have a genre where all of the best music came from the very early years

  • Anonymous

    eminem, is technically the best rapper when it comes to technique, flow, word play etc. that said. i simply cant relate to eminem anymore, i really dont enjoy listening to him, except to be in awe of his flow.

    • Anonymous

      Co-sign above, it's funny lots of you who got into rap, not hiphop, because of ElmVis think you could tell someone about their culture. Rubin with all due respect needs to fall back after that bullshit Yeezlost album and stay off the fucking drugs.

    • Anonymous

      I don't know hip-hop? Really, but you do, I'm pretty sure someone from the culture, some with soul (it can't be imitated and can't be duplicated, sorry) stated something similar about Elvis not being the 'king' with regards to Rock-n-roll shit. Keep trying from the comfort of you suburban home and west bumblefuck. He said 'Rapper' not 'MC' go learn the difference and Rubin knew exactly what he meant.

    • Anonymous

      eminem is the epitome of an emcee. yall really dont know hip hop. thats sad

    • Anonymous

      You said it 'rapper' not 'Mc' big difference. Anybody and everybody can be a rapper only an elite few can be Mcs

  • Anonymous

    to bad nether transformed into good music last albums

  • Anonymous

    eminem better than BIG PUN-BIG L-NOTORIOUS BIG-TUPAC - GET THE F**K OUTTA HERE - NO WAY IN A MILLION - MOST OVERRATTED RAPPERS ARE JAYZ KANYE EMINEM - suck it rubin

  • Anonymous

    Old fuckin overrated jew ruins eveything he works on with his dried out mixes n shit. Yeezus was garbage n everybody knows it and lets not even get into what he fucked up on with his mixs and production with metallica,sliupknot,sabbath... people just work with this hebrew cause of his name.

  • Real

    Wrong rick rubin. those two titles belong to Tupac

  • mark cuban

    You know what Rubin is right. Kanye and Eminem are the best rappers out today.

  • kevin smith

    first of all eminem is washed up he is not the best rapper at one point he was dope when he first came into the game but now he dont even rap no more he does is sing hooks like the rest of these pop tart watered down diva artists out now come on now all the real hip hop fans can back me up on that lets keep it real

    • Eminem

      "first of all eminem is washed up" I don't understand why people try so hard to make themselves look like complete dipshits before they finish a single sentence.

    • Anonymous

      and where is your album bunny - oh yes that right - you dont have one either. oops i meant sonny. sorry.

    • sonny

      All you fair weather bandwagon morons , (em was good back when blah blah fuck you , everything he's produced has been nothing less than greatness even if YOU welfare infested little whineballs don't like it , someone else does . Besides I don't think i've heard one of your albums.

    • EvenOdd

      @ Kevin Smith You clearly have not heard MMLP. Dude can't even out rap his favorite rappers favorite rapper because it's himself. That just blew my mind.

    • Anonymous

      Wow although I didn't really like his last album how the fuck can you say he didn't rap ? He dropped lyrical bombs

    • DOPE

      woah, you said all of those false words in one breath? you have to be a deep sea diver or something.

  • EvenOdd

    This guy is a legend. A huge amount of HipHopDX's readers are simple minded and misinformed. Check this mans discography...one of the few producers who has achieved platinum status, critical acclaim, and respect in almost every genre.

    • Anonymous

      rubin started def jam. if u hating on him then u aint hip hop. u aint music. yall need to do ur homework little niggas

    • Anonymous

      1st anon is a cretin who doesn't listen to anything but rap. Beastie Boys = Live. 99 Problems = Live. Run DMC = Live. LL Cool J = Live. Johnny Cash American series = Live. Slayer = Live. The only person I can think of who can possibly fuck with him as greatest producer of all time is Quincy Jones but even then what I know of QJ doesn't compare to what Rubin has done in so many genres.

    • EvenOdd

      I personally dislike rock music, but you can't discredit an entire genre just because you don't enjoy it or you don't like the color of the people making it. That ignorance is going to keep you working drive thru at McDonalds for the rest of your life or on the streets hustlin' where you going to end up dead or in jail.

    • Anonymous

      nigga i know all about his discography. the craccas still just a whiteboy loser hippie with no shoes. think about that. plus anyone that produces a slipknot or whatever else wack whiteboy bands he got in there is just detestable as a person.

  • Aaron Kellistan

    Okay, to me, Eminem is perfectly rated as a rap artist. A lot of people criticize him, saying that he only receives his hype because he's white. On the contrary, the "Stans" will go to his defense saying that he's underrated because he's white. I love the guy, and his music, but let's get it real when I say that he really is only as popular as he is because of his skin tone. With that being said, I still think he has the skills to be called the best rapper ever. Everyone hates on rap god for the beat, but we all know that he only put that beat to 1) make a mockery of the game and 2) draw you in closer to his technical and sheer lyricism. To say the guy is not lyrical would simply make you sound like a hater. I get that not everybody is going to like him, for there own reasons, and that's fine because discussing a top rap list is purely opinionated, there's nothing factual about it. There's nothing factual about anything regarding who's the "best" at something, because not everyone is going to agree on one entity. Obviously, Eminem has became more radio friendly, or "pop," but what other rapper could do what he's been doing in there 40s? Please don't say Ice Cube, because to me, that guy was never that great! You can hate on Encore, Relapse, Recovery, and MMLP2, but how can somebody take away from what he did on SSLP, MMLP, and the Eminem Show? I'm just saying, at the end of the day, Eminem being white doesn't make him good, he has sheer talent regardless of his skin color. He's broken so many barriers, and is the reason that Macklemore, Mac Miller, Yelawolf, and MGK can even be famous without catching flack. I'm putting Eminem in the Mount Rushmore of rap, easily. If he's not the best rapper of all time, he's the best mainstream rap artist of all time.

    • Anonymous

      Good post OP. I'll be surprised if we see another rapper as technically gifted blowing up like Em in the future. You're also right a big part of why he's popular is his race, but that's not his fault and has nothing to do with his skill level. That said I don't think his music matches how good a rapper he is. A lot of it IMO has flat production and no funk, therefore not something I'd really replay. Bars wise he's a beast but he's a much worse song maker than that.

    • Anonymous

      I agree he is the best lyrical rapper, maybe not a lot with the hiphop culture but lyrically untouchable

    • Anonymous

      guess what. the "mount rushmore" to rap is just a fuckin portapotty in the back of a gas station. no one gives a fuck about rap really.

  • Stan

    Ha!Good point,brother...very dope song.I second that!!! Besides,I think Redman's better than Eminem

  • RiqGeezus-Agent13-Quali-ty

    Looks like someone needs to be at home breast feeding. This isn't the 80's, sir. Gorilla Monsoon Rap...nuff said

  • Both Overrated

    Yeezus and MMLP2 were both overrated, and Rick Rubin is a walking gimmick.

  • Anonymous

    the lightening of rap...

  • drake runs rap

    eminem is a pop star and kanye is just weird. Drake makes real rap he runs this rap shit.

  • Anonymous

    He's clearly delusional. Wayne is.

    • ^

      That's a joke, right? Because Eminem stomps Wayne in every category.

    • Anonymous

      Wayne is the superior icon, intellect, and philanthropist. Rap wise if u dont get it u just wont get it.

    • Justin

      Wayne who? You can't be talking about Little Wayne, because the guy is straight GARBAGE. Absolutely awful. It's amazing how out of touch todays generation is when it comes to hip hop. They hear all this fake ass garbage like Wayne, and think it's actually rap, or hip hop. It's nothing but trash.

    • Anonymous

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!! Please. Wayne is not and will never be the best rapper. Rubin got it right.

  • MDR

    Another legend calling eminem the best lmao when people gonna just deal with it? all these jealous irrelevant underground rappers and shit make me laiugh

  • I Didnt Even Read The Article but listen

    I CALL EMINEM THE BEST RAPPER TOO, BECAUSE 1. his love for rap! you hear it in his raps and when he talks about the game. 2. Watch interviews, listen songs (never ever had a swag/talking bout having money and stuff rap-song)3. constantly trying to improve himself 4. eventhough he is one of the greatest of all time, he still is so humble and is kinda insecure about it and so still FIGHTS to be in top 5 catagory. 5. The best have named him in their top 5 6. he is probably your fav. rapppers fav. 7. never calld himself god, just said that he started to feel like a god of rap (so many years and still one of the best, no need to be humble for that) 8. Seriously have you checked deeper into the lyrics and listend to his flow and rhytm? this man is a maniac with words!!! and 9 but not least: these boys saying Em is overrated or whatever, are mostly not over 20 years old. FUCK YOU VERY MUCH

    • Anonymous

      @OP I'd recommend you listen to Pharoahe Monch, also a technical beast with a solid catalogue who Em himself has described as "always been ahead of his time". For my money a nastier MC too. Peace

    • Anonymous

      that second reply is so full of shit. little boy, look here. Calling his fans homosexual, knowing eminem has been protested for his lyrics being homofobic(in your lets say twenties). Overrated? if you are 32, you'd be 20 when he was around starting and you had to know what talent it was back then and how people everywhere were feeling his shit. And calling em those names... dude you aint fooling nobody that your 32. i do not even believe 23. Justin is right... you are certainly a DUMB troll... DUMB

    • Lies has been told

      lol a 32 year old and saying thing like Feminem and slim Gayda marshall Fagtart.... dude, you're not convincing anyone that you're 32. And to mention: a 32 year old wouldve been in that time period of eminems upcome, and if not then, in his young years, seen how good Em was, he would have respect him for his legacy. POINT. you're not 32. go jerk off in your mom closet boy !

    • Justin

      truthmant? More like liemant. 32 and still an idiot, huh? What you call "delusional homosexual stans", is actually YOU. Because you're delusional to think Eminem is not the best rapper ever. Obviously you're nothing but a dumbshit troll, who knows nothing about music. Fag.

    • truthmant to the resuce

      Im 32 years old and can honestly say that Feminem aka Slim Gaydy aka Marshall Fagtart is the most overrated rapper in rap history. Now watch all his delusional homosexual stans come to his defense

    • Anonymous

      "I Didnt Even Read The Article but listen:" hahahhahahahaa

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