If one person can be said to embody the spirit of both rap and rock and roll, it's Rick Rubin. The Long Beach, Long Island native played in punk bands as a teen before diving headfirst into hip-hop while at NYU, launching Def Jam Records in his dormroom and producing T La Rock's revolutionary "It Yours" in 1984. During a three-year period (which ended when he parted ways with Russell Simmons and Def Jam, forming Def American Recordings, and shifting his production energies to metal acts like Slayer and Danzig) Rubin changed the game for hip-hop over and over.
Signing LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy to Def Jam and overseeing prodction for LL and the Beasties' Radio and Licensed to Ill, respectively, as well as Run-DMC's Raising Hell, each successive release under Rubin's watch took hip-hop's sound in a more aggressive direction, generally to great commercial success. Working often with samples or interpolations of hard rock songs loved by young, white male listeners—soon to be rap's biggest consumers—Rubin successfully packaged black ghetto music for middle America.
The apotheosis of his efforts was the Beastie Boys' 1986 debut Licensed to Ill, which broke hip-hop onto rock radio for the first time with "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" and "No Sleep Til Brooklyn," positioning Ad Rock, MCA and Mike D. as hip-hop's first white stars and a new sort of arena rock act.
Fittingly, Led Zeppelin, the ultimate arena rock band, were sampled twice on Licensed to Ill. John Bonham's booming drums from "When the Levee Breaks" (overlaid with an interpolation of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" guitar riff) anchored the menacing opening track, "Rhyming and Stealing" while "She's Crafty" began with a fleeting but attention-grabbing clip of Jimmy Page's guitar lead from "The Ocean."