Has Justin Bieber tapped the legendary Rick Rubin to produce his upcoming, new album?
Earlier Wednesday, the 20-year-old singer tweeted the message “With the man Rick,” with a link to a Shots photo of himself with Fredrick Jay “Rick” Rubin — the super-producer and founder of Def Jam Records.
Update: A few hours after Bieber’s post, his manager Scooter Braun shared the above image to his Instagram, writing,
“Working on some history! @justinbieber via @shots – Rick and JB.”
So that’s a yes. In addition, Justin’s stage manager later tweeted,
I’m super excited JB is in with Rick Rubin. For you youngins who might not know who Rick Rubin is, Look it up. That guy is MY idol!
— Scrappy (@scrappy) January 14, 2015
According to TMZ, the veteran helmer and the Biebs hit up a recording studio on Tuesday.
The reveals have got a lot of Bieber fans very excited.
— DOMO (@torikbizzle) January 14, 2015
With good reason. Rick’s extensive production experience and music business knowledge speaks for itself.
Bieber recently confirmed his musical plans for this year, telling Chanel’s fashion creative director Karl Lagerfeld, in V magazine’s Music Issue, “I’m going to start working on a new album and a tour for 2015.” He added, “I took the last year off and I’m excited to get back to work.”
Bringing Rubin on board for production could turn out to be the wisest move Bieber has made in a long time. The 51-year-old has produced multiple platinum-selling and award winning albums, many of which are considered to be classics.
These include early Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, and LL Cool J’s hip-hop albums. Rubin has also worked with Mick Jagger, Damien Rice, Ed Sheeran, Neil Diamond, Adele, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Eminem.
Even more crucially, given that this is the Biebs’ comeback year, Rubin produced career-rejuvenating comeback albums by the Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, Black Sabbath, as well as pioneering cross-genre collaborations such as the rap-rock “Walk This Way” by Run-DMC and Aerosmith.
Eminem, who worked with Rubin on The Marshall Mathers LP 2, previously said Rick was able “to dip in and out of different genres of music and master all of them.”
According to Forbes, that seems to be due to Rubin’s meditation practice — the discipline of paying attention to the self in a focused way. Metallica’s James Hetfield, credits Rick as being able to bring out the best work and full potential of others through his knowledge of meditation.
For Bieber, who is coming off the back of a challenging two years, listening and taking on the advice and methods Rubin lives by would clearly be very helpful.
There’s tons of opinions floating about as to which musical direction Bieber should pursue. Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz recently urged the singer in a thoughtful post, not to reprise the low-fi R&B heard on his Journals album of last year. Instead, he writes,
“We need Bieber to make a pop album pronto, or else he might not be regarded as an artist capable of reliably delivering hits anymore. Coming off of a prolonged hiatus, Bieber should return to the sugary hooks and high-BPM tempos that marked Top 10 hits like ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and ‘Beauty and a Beat’… it’s time to hear those big, international dance records!”
Last July, Bieber Instagrammed 11 snippets of unreleased music and has no doubt co-written and/or been sent a stack of already written songs for his upcoming album. But, as the recent success of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album showed — it sold nearly 1.3 million units in its first sales week — a strong, clear album concept and intelligent use of social media are also important.
So, there’s lots for Bieber to think about and it may be overwhelming. Which is likely why his meet with Rubin is something his concerned fans are pleased about.
Unlike most other music artists, it’s no secret Bieber is a polarizing figure. Some of that is the heritage of 2013-14. Equally, the current, negative media Bieber narrative is likely very distracting and confusing to someone trying to bring his life back into balance.
Of this, actor Jake T. Austin recently told The Dish,
“You know, people need to leave him alone because we’re the same age… He handles himself, he takes care of his family, he loves his fans. He just doesn’t make 100 percent of the best decisions 100 percent of the time.”
“You need to take the good with the bad, but he needs to make more music, period. If he made more music — and it’s amazing I feel all the negative press would be overshadowed.”
For those reasons and all of the above, working with “the man” Rubin can only be good for the Biebs, as he gears to deliver an album that will inevitably be as intensely scrutinized as everything else in his life.
[Images via Instagram/Shots]