The mystique surrounding Rick Rubin has been palpable for years. With his white, wizard-like beard and aversion to footwear, the lauded music producer looks more like a spiritual guru these days than the raucous character he portrayed in the classic 1985 hip-hop film Krush Groove. As Def Jam Recordings was beginning to take shape, Rubin’s vision was already light years ahead of his contemporaries, blending musical genres into one cohesive gumbo on albums such as the Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill and Run-DMC’s Raising Hell
Now, Rubin has taken that same philosophy and applied it to his American Songs publishing company. Led by Isaac Heymann and Michael Goldberg (a joint venture partnership with Pulse Music Group), American Songs’ colorful roster jumps off the page with artists such as BROCKHAMPTON, Run The Jewels, Kaytranada, Jean Dawson, The Blossom, and The Neptunes’ Chad Hugo. 

American Songs has a track record of signing artists before they do any label deals in an effort to help them build independently so when it does come time for a label deal, it’s on their own terms. Simply put, American Songs acts almost like an incubator, nurturing each artist until they’re ready to fly. Although every artist signed to the imprint varies drastically in sound and style, they share at least one common thread: the iconic Shangri-La recording studio in Malibu, California, a place Rubin has called his own for the past 10 years. 

Located in the hills above Zuma Beach, Shangri-La was originally a ranch property owned by Mexican-American actress Margo in the 1950s before being leased by Bob Dylan and The Band in the ‘70s, adding to the sprawling estate’s rich background. The history pulsing through its walls includes recording sessions with Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, Ringo Starr, and The Who’s Pete Townshend, to name a few. 

Since Rubin has acquired Shangri-La, a new crop of talent has made its way through the pristine white walls of the studio, including Kanye West, Adele, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Lana Del Rey, and Ed Sheeran. But while the magic of Shangri-La has been omnipresent for decades, Rubin’s sheer existence in the space has undeniably taken it up a notch.

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