15.02.2011 - Don't Sleep On Linkin Park
Over the last 15 years there have been many acts that have presented themselves as rap/rock acts and attempted to sustain their careers while maintaining the sensibilities and credibility of both genres. Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock come to mind as having a successful run but it is Linkin Park who claims the prize for staying power, consistently churning out number one albums and top-selling tours over the last decade.
In 2000 Linkin Park effortlessly reached rap and rock fans with their chart smasher “In The End” from their number one debut album Hybrid Theory. “In The End” is arguably the epitome of an original rap/metal track. The video was as intriguing and visually stimulating as the lyrics were thought provoking.
]“On the last record, we were trying to figure out where we wanted to go. I mean, we were in a box. We were Linkin Park who makes this certain sound and we wanted to make a record that didn't sound like that," lead vocalist Mike Shinoda told AllHipHop.com.
When you think of the fusion of rap and hip hop, historically, you have to give credit to the song and video that first made a tangible and palpable connection between the two genres and cultures, “Walk This Way,” a remake of Aerosmith’s rock juggernaut, whose new version included verses from rap pioneers Run DMC. The song was released in 1986 and was a bona fide mash-up before the phrase even existed.
It was a monster hit that aptly appealed to both audiences. It is not to be overlooked that before the collaboration, Run DMC’ s production had consistently had a heavy rock influence which is apparent in hits like “Rock Box” and “King of Rock.” Later, The Beastie Boys had success with this formula.
That was due in part to diverse producer and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin who is still proving his relevance and coming full circle, having co-produced Linkin Park’s latest number one album A Thousand Suns. Linkin Park was looking for a more progressive sound than on previous albums.
"Rick is one of the most versatile producers that I love. I mean, there are guys that make a lot of different stuff and I don't like what they do and I love what Rick does. I guess the best I could describe it is that when we first started the demos for the record it was clearly different, it was a very specific sound for A Thousand Suns and we were a little hesitant bringing a producer onboard, but once we met with Rick, we knew it was going to be a good fit."
The album debuted at number one in 2010 and is still producing hit singles such as “Waiting for the End” with its infectious beat, laced with hip hop undertones and “Wretches and Kings” whose sound is heavily influenced by Public Enemy is also an outstanding track off their latest album.
When Linkin Park teamed up with Jay-Z in 2004 for the breakthrough mash-up album Collision Course, the validation of a hip hop giant certainly galvanized their credibility as hip hop artists, if there had remained any doubt. Collision Course was an innovative project with each single combing the production and vocals of songs previously recorded by both acts.
The album was mixed by Mike Shinoda and reached number 1 on the Billboard album chart. Another credible hip hop endeavor was Shinoda’s side project, The Rising Tied in 2005. The album featured hip hop heavyweights Black Thought, Common, Lupe Fiasco and Jay-Z who also served as executive producer. The Rising Tied was developed under Shinoda’s Fort Minor side project and created so that he could express music that he felt did not fit Linkin Park’s style. Michael Shinoda told AllHipHop.com that Linkin Park has progressed to incorporating those types of songs today.
“I think, well, the reason I did the Fort Minor record was because, at that time, Linkin Park was kind of, I felt like there were things that were going to work for Linkin Park and then there were things that were not going to work and I didn't feel like those songs could work on a Linkin Park record," Shinoda explained. "Since then, the band has really broadened its horizons and the ideas that may have ended up on a Fort Minor record back in the past now can be a Linkin Park song and that's why you get songs like, 'When They Come For Me,' or 'Wretches and Kings.' Those songs off the new record are, I mean, they really started as demos that sounded more like a Fort Minor demo, I think, and then once we all kind of get together and work them out, they grow and they change and they end up on a Linkin Park record.
"Just as a side note, I think, for Chester and I especially having done, like, these side projects, I think it's a good feeling to know that the other ideas that we have, these, like, kind of off the wall things, not only are they accepted now, but they're welcomed and the whole band is excited about them," Shinoda said.
From “In The End” and Hybrid Theory in 2000 to the current A Thousand Suns and songs such as “Wretches and Kings”, 2011 makes a remarkable unprecedented 11 year run for the rap/metal band. Linkin Park was named the number one selling Rock/Alt band by Billboard/Soundscan and has amassed over 50 million album sales. Shinoda remains modest about their formula for success and ability to sustain in both genres.
“I think that gap has been bridged a million times and we just happen to have grown up on many different styles of music and when we write music that's how we write it," Shinoda said. "I think one misconception about how our band or maybe other bands, too, is that when you sit down to write a song you're thinking of imitating something else.
"When we go into the studio, we don't set out to say, 'Let's write a song like another song.' We just sit down and try and write something that is exciting to us and something that's fresh and especially on the new record, "A Thousand Suns," that's where the majority of the songs came from. Just trying to write something that sounded different and was exciting to us,” Shinoda told AllHipHop.com.
Linkin Park is currently on the North American leg of their A Thousand Suns World Tour. The group promises a musically and visually stimulating show for which they developed new technology and each ticket holder receives a free mp3 download of the concert they attended, each of which will be a unique experience.
“We play different set lists and then within those set lists we improvise, so we wanted a way for the look of the show to kind of ebb and flow with whatever we do with the music. So, from night to night, the music will be different and the visuals will be different as well. No two shows will be the same.”
allhiphop.com - February 15, 2011