Rick Rubin: “The way sounds interact on a micro level to create something is the whole game”

“I don’t think anything else matters”, the producer says in a new interview with Kenny Beats where they discuss the feel in rhythm.

Rick Rubin during WrestleMania Goes Hollywood at SoFi Stadium on April 02, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Iconic music producer and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin has publicly highlighted the importance of “feel” in rhythm, caused by combining two instruments.

He makes the comments during a recent episode of his podcast, Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin, in which he sits down with fellow hip-hop producer Kenny Beats. In the nearly two-hour conversation, they discuss swing, their musical heroes, making music visually, collecting music as teenagers and loads more. If you’re a production nerd, it’s an absolute gold mine and worth checking out.

The two are discussing drums and rhythm, when Rubin says, “I had a revelation just recently in the past few weeks: it’s all about rhythm. And when I say rhythm, I don’t mean the beat. I mean, the little internal relationships between whatever is playing, the feel between those things. I don’t think anything else matters. The way the sounds interact on a micro level to create something is the whole game.”

They go on to talk about Chris Dave, drummer, composer, and bandleader whom they both admire because of his impressively tight syncopation and unique “feel”.

“I mean, you said something to me, probably five years ago about Chris Dave,” Kenny Beats says, “and how he could play kick, snare, kick – the simplest beat in the world, and would make it 10 times more interesting than anybody else just because of his feel. And Robert Glasper has said the same thing to me about Chris Dave. Thundercat has said the same thing to me about Chris Dave.

“It’s the reason why [J] Dilla is Dilla for people, why Slayer is Slayer,” he adds.

Also in the podcast, they go on to discuss swing, with Kenny Beats saying he “sees swing and bounce visually” and that he “grew up with a grid” and instead of learning how the likes of J Dilla created a loose sense of swing by jamming into an MPC, he would zoom in to identify the nuances in rhythms within his DAW.

Subscribe to Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton podcast via YouTube.


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