LOS ANGELES (AP) — Music producer Rick Rubin didn’t give an acceptance speech when he received the President’s Merit Award from the Recording Academy. The 52-year-old Grammy winner didn’t even take the stage.
Instead, he spoke through music, inviting two new artists to perform in his place at the Producers & Engineers Wing’s ninth annual Grammy Week celebration, where Rubin was honored Thursday night.
“The way hip-hop is now owes everything to Def Jam and to this gentleman here tonight,” producer-songwriter Jimmy Jam said of the record label Rubin founded with Russell Simmons in 1984, which introduced audiences to LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. Rubin has since produced hits for such artists as Johnny Cash, Jay Z, Adele, Kanye West, Neil Diamond, Metallica, Dixie Chicks and Lady Gaga.
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said Rubin was being recognized for “his talent and innovation, uncompromising standards and commitment to sonic excellence, and especially for the music he’s helped to bring to life.”
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Instead of Rubin coming up to accept the award, Portnow stepped off stage to bring it to him. Wearing shorts and sandals and his trademark long beard, Rubin posed for photos with the academy president but made no public comments.
“Rick says he’s shy,” Jam said.
So he brought out Rubin’s proxies: 19-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter Colter Wall and 30-year-old South London poet-rapper Kate Tempest.
The cowboy-hat-wearing Wall, whose voice recalls Johnny Cash, performed two songs with his acoustic guitar, stomping his boot for percussion. Tempest spit her rhyme acapella, passionately reciting a nearly eight-minute poem without notes or stumbles.
Held at The Village recording studios in Los Angeles, the Producers & Engineers Wing party celebrates the music industry’s behind-the-scenes technicians ahead of Monday’s Grammy Awards. Other guests included Josh Groban, Lana del Rey and Macy Gray.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .