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Frederick Jay Rubin was born on Long Island, New York in 1963. He was a 20-year-old college student when he and Russell Simmons founded Def Jam Records, running it out of Rubin's dorm room. "And the rap records that were coming out at the time were like Sugar Hill Records, which were essentially disco records with people rapping over them. Kids who liked rap bought them because there weren't any records representative of their rap scene. So, I saw this void and starting making those records, just because I was a fan and wanted them to exist." By 1985 the label's rap releases were distributed by Columbia Records, and they produced the movie Krush Groove.

In addition to releasing the harder-edged records, Rubin produced many of them, including the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill, Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell, and Public Enemy's Yo! Bum Rush The Show!. In addition to rap, he was also producer of Slayer's Hell Awaits and the Cult's Electric.

Simmons and Rubin had major business disagreements, and Rubin left Def Jam to form the label Def American, which signed rappers, heavy metal artists, and even comedians such as Andrew Dice Clay. In 1993 the label's name changed to merely "American" and since then Rubin has produced artists such as Tom Petty and Johnny Cash who are not so associated with disaffected teenagers. "So I don't think I'm going to run the risk of getting stale, because I don't make the same record." However, bands like Danzig have left the label and those who remain are often less commercial; American's future is hard to predict.

Sources: AllMusic.com, http://www.plastic.com/altculture/01/04/10/2149254.shtml, and all quotations from http://www.artistwd.com/joyzine/music/rubin/rubin.htm

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