Producer: Rick Rubin
Label: Def Jam
This was the record that first drew Russell Simmons' attention to a producer named Rick Rubin. Ironically, "Sucker MCs," co-produced by Simmons, first inspired Rubin to create it. Rubin had borrowed a TR-808 drum machine from the Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz, and tried to get the Treacherous Three to rap over it. But the Treacherous Three could only record exclusively for Sugar Hill, so group member Special K recommended Rubin get in touch with his older brother, Terry "T La Rock" Keaton.
The record was born in an attempt to give equal billing to T La Rock, whose lyrics were unexpectedly multi-syllabic and complex for the era, and DJ Jazzy Jay, who scratched in between each verse. With stratosphere-rending scratches and gut-wrenching kick drums, the song was a sonic masterpiece, and ultimately proved to be the catalyst for the friendship of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, as well as the creation of Def Jam Records. —David Drake