I don’t mean to remain on the Def Jam tip, but it should be known that its history is full of Jews. Rick Rubin was, and remains, revolutionary with his production work and creation along with Russell Simmons of the Def Jam Recordings label. It was the first and the longest running label when it comes to Hip Hop music. The idea and concept came together with the charismatic personality of Russell Simmons and the bombastic sound and opinionated politics of Rick Rubin. Together they hired a team of reliable personalities to help bring Hip Hop out the New York City closet and into the greater mainstream.
In the realm of marketing Russell hired a seasoned veteran who worked as a DJ and later a freelance writer for People magazine. Bill Adler was hired as the publicist for Def Jam and he saw Hip Hop’s marketability in a bigger frame than any of his co-workers. Bill Adler was born in Brooklyn, but moved to Detroit. Michigan in his early childhood. He attended the University of Michigan in the tumultuous fall of 1969. Detroit, and for that matter Michigan as a whole, transformed many ideas and concepts that veered from the conventional path. The pro to-Punk movement traces some of its roots to that state with the rise of such magnificently disheveled hard rock bands like the MC5, The Stooges and Alice Kooper. The MC5’s manager Jon Sinclair, along with the group, also became vocal in their fight to form the White version of the black Panther Party for Justice. Sinclair was a big fan of the more outlandish African American musical acts such as Sun Ra, later John Coltrane and James Brown. These influences all pulsated through Adler’s veins and he wanted too drop the bullshit in order to explore the black side of culture. As I wrote in past blogs, this Jewish aspect is important because like him other Jews of the time were embracing Black culture in all its raw and unadulterated beauty. Artists and intellectuals like Allen Ginsburg, Norman Mailer, and Bob Dylan delved into the black conscience in order to glean out an understanding of the culture’s drawing powers. Adler was apparently so pumped to give the people real music that he was actually fired from a DJ job because he played music by the artist Joe Tex.
Adler moved out of Michigan and would later find himself in New York City speaking with the charisma himself, Russell Simmons. According to Jeff Chang’s magnum opus Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Adler was curious and very interested the first time he heard the “Rapper’s Delight” single. As he writes in the book Adler thought that it was astonishing. He writes that it was “not because the artists were rapping and not singing. What was remarkable about it was that it was fifteen minutes long.” He goes on to admit that the one black music station actually played the long player in its entirety. Of course it would be another Jew, Rick Rubin, who would forever change that format in the coming years on the same label Adler worked for.
Bill Adler met Russell Simmons in 1980 and they became friends as Russell hired him to work on publicity for the acts on their burgeoning record label. Like most of the people who worked at Def Jam each was revolutionary in his or her own way. Each member of the working group thought outside the conventional wisdom and pushing for a broader appeal. At this time it was unthinkable to expand Hip Hop music’s market behind the niche urban areas of the Northeast and West Coast. However, Adler knew that this label, unlike Sugar Hill Records and Enjoy Records (which were independently black owned labels), would brake with the standards and brazenly crossover intro the mainstream. Chang writes in his book that Adler was impressed with Simmons because “he was never gonna just be a guy who operated within the confines of Black cultural institutions. He was gonna take this Black culture and promote it everywhere.
Adler, like past Jewish owners and music boosters, also envisioned a greater picture with regards to the marketability of Hip Hop music. Also, being Jewish he was interested in Hip Hop as a musical method for true racial integration. Chang writes that Adler thought that “Hip-Hop was offering a much more radical, much more successful voluntary desegregation plan. I was bleeding-edge music with vast social implications. Rap reintegrated American culture.” Poignant words for the coach of the revolutionary groups such as the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, and of course the mother load of them all, Public Enemy.
The revolutionary group called Public Enemy (as yelled out by many including KRS-ONE on his song “Outta Here”) was the most political group on the Def Jam roster. Rick Rubin, the outspoken Jewish producer, was the one who pushed and prodded Chuck D to be the headmaster MC at large of the group. However, it too some goading until Chuck agreed. Once the dye was cast the publicity gears began to churn and low and behold you have the loud claims. One of the most famous made was that rap music was Black America’s version of CNN (the first 24hour news network thanks to a little thing called the Gulf War). The many interviews and public image of the group was pushed by Adler as Chang notes that he and another indie publicist wanted the rock critics to call Chuck D the new Bob Dylan. By posturing his image as a no nonsense lyricist immersed in local and international politics Adler knew the sound bytes would travel far. Like the Jewish promoters of days past in the realm of jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and rock and roll, Adler did the same for Hip Hop. He pushed this art form from being a fad into a world renown cultural phenomenon. This is all the link in the Jewish chain of participation in popular American music.
Public Enemy were both cheered and jeered. They were seen as the coming of a new era of political music championing the oppressed. The jeers came from social conservatives who thought the music was not music at all. But they also got a lot of criticism from the so-called liberal press for being too black and too aggressive. When truth rings in your ears you either listen who you dig your head in the sand. White liberals have an issue where they see themselves as champions of the poor black underclass, while still acting in a condescending manner towards their intellectuals. One problem that itched the liberals was the episode of Professor Griff’s remarks on Jews. I won’t get into the details, and Chang writes about it in his book, but Adler did confront Griff. Griff shrugged him off and said that he was preaching what was written in a highly discredited book. No matter the opinions one thing remains ironically clear, as Chang motes in his book. Public Enemy “had been signed by Rick Rubin. Bill Adler was their publicist. They were managed by Lyor Cohen, Ron Skoler and Ed Chalpin. Their photographer and art director was Glen Friedman. As Bill Adler once put it, they were not anti-Semites, they were philo-Semites.”
On another note you should all pick up the Ego Trip’s Book of Rap Lists. On page 144 Adler recounts the Top 5 Mainstream Media Rap Coverage Travesties.
Also, check out the man’s funnier side in Ego Trip’s Big Book of Racism! In the book he chooses the top 10 International Jewish conspiracies!!! Scary stuff abounds as he includes Christianity, Capitalism, Communism, Psychoanalysis, Jazz music, and Barbra Streisand. Now that’s some spooky shit.
Bill Adler along with some of the pioneers of Hip Hop including Run, Jam Master Jay and LL Cool J.
The “Walk This Way” sessions with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Run-DMC, Rick Rubin and Adler in the back.
#Bill Adler #Rick Rubin #Russell Simmons # Def Jam Recordings #Jeff Chang #Ego Trip #Lyor Cohen