Head to Head: Wiley and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda

11.05.2008
Linkin Park/ Fort Minor’s Mike Shinoda isn’t just about the one like Jay-Z. He’s digs our very own Wiley too and was well up for the Eski Boy interviewing him. RWD put the two in a room and poised our pens. Here’s what’s happened...

Wiley: Hey, you cool?
Mike Shinoda: Hey Wiley, it’s good to meet you.

Wiley: I can’t lie, the first thing I want to know is; how much have you lot sold?
Mike Shinoda: Upwards of 35 million. Trust me, I had no f**king idea, we were gonna sell so many records...

Wiley: (laughs) Sh*t. What advice can you give to me about tapping into different markets?
Mike Shinoda: I think a rule in music is, if you can tap into a universal truth, something that everybody subconsciously feels or agrees with, that’s when you really have something.

Wiley: And how about breaking America specifically?
Mike Shinoda: I’d say the best thing is, be conscious of what’s going on but don’t try and bite the US. When rappers from other countries come off looking like they are trying to be from New York, we see that. Come up with your own thing. Respect what everybody else is doing and understand it, but be yourself.

Wiley: What one thing got you on the path to making music?
Mike Shinoda: Man, that is a good question. Well, just really simply, one of the first records I ever got was Raising Hell from Run DMC. At that point I didn’t know anything about music, I just heard it and I said ‘Hmmm, that’s what I like.’ I didn’t have any other friends that listened to hip hop, I just caught it on the radio or Yo MTV Raps.

Wiley: How did you link up with Jay-Z?
Mike Shinoda: Jay had been asked by MTV to do a show where they brought one of his mash-ups on stage. He said he wanted to do it with Linkin Park. I was really excited about it, I’ve been into Jay since his first record. But instead of sending him back an answer, I bought his acapella album, made two songs and sent that back to him. We decided ‘This is how it’s going to be done.’ It was either win or lose– either he was gonna put us straight and say ‘Nah, this can’t happen, or do what actually happened and say, ‘Sh*t this is really exciting.’ He was really into it.

Wiley: Is Jay involved in this record?
Mike Shinoda: He was executive producer. He didn’t write any lyrics and he doesn’t produce so he didn’t make any music. His role was very important, in that it was his ear. I respect Jay’s opinion but he actually liked the stuff so life was easy.

Wiley: Some albums have random executive producers. Lil Kim’s album has Biggie as executive producer but he’s passed away now. So was Jay there to add credibility?
Mike Shinoda: People have asked me about that. I’d be stupid if I said that Jay’s name doesn’t add value but look at it from my perspective. It would be a waste for me to bring Jay onboard without him giving me some input. Bottom line the guy has a really great ear for music and that’s why I wanted him to listen to the stuff and get his opinion on what he heard.

Wiley: Have you heard much UK music?
Mike Shinoda: I’ve heard a lot from all over the place. You know in the States we know about The Streets, Dizzee Rascal - I’ve got his record- and MIA.

Wiley: What did you think?
Mike Shinoda: I like ‘em, I think they are really dope. I’ve been waiting for somebody to come along and do something that’s really different, put together well and polished. The hope that I have is that maybe it will be somebody from the UK that comes out with that. It’s a totally different environment and sound so somebody will breakthrough in a real big way. And actually, people are getting there. People know about the grime movement, they get it. It just hasn’t caught on. It will take somebody to have a love and respect for what they do and also the US culture and more importantly worldwide culture. When somebody nails it, it’s going to be big.

Wiley: You know that! All I have to say is the love I get out in America is mad. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Mike Shinoda: I’m sure you’ll do well.

"RWD" Magazine - January 12, 2006


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