With his solo debut album The Rising Tied, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park creates an authentic underground hip-hop record for the masses, one that will equally please his rock music fans, the TRL crowd, and the stingiest of hip-hop fans.
Shinoda, who goes by Fort Minor on this release, sporadically showcased his production talent and rap skills on Linkin Park’s two studio albums, but truly got his chance to shine on their remix album Reanimation, the LP and Jay-Z mash-up album Collision Course, and on the X-Ecutioner’s single “It’s Goin’ Down”. With this experience under his belt, Shinoda set out to create the hip-hop album he always wanted to make, with some help from his boys Styles of Beyond and executive-producer Jay-Z.
“Remember The Name” is an upbeat street anthem that finds Shinoda and Styles of Beyond breaking down the numbers and difficulties of working hard to create the best possible music and make a name for oneself. The first single, “Petrified”, is equally an eerie underground showcase of Mike’s mic talents and a speaker-rattling club-banger.
Shinoda’s weight in the music industry allows him the opportunity to work with almost anybody, but he chooses to work with credible and established hip-hop artists over flavor-of-the-month, radio-favorite rappers. “Right Now” features an intricate and layered instrumental as Mike, Styles of Beyond, and Black Thought of The Roots intertwine tales of what the world looks like from their eyes over a mellow piano melody. Meanwhile Common assists on “Back Home”, a tale of how different home is upon return. The gorgeous guitar riff, sustained basslines and organ work are both old-school soul and a testament to Shinoda’s hard work in the studio, as he plays every instrument heard throughout The Rising Tied.
Mike spills his heart and soul throughout the album. “Where’d You Go” is a melancholy story of frustration about missing a loved one who has been absent. “High Road” is an angst-filled duet with R&B singer John Legend about no longer being able to trust someone, and doubles as a showcase for both artists’ talents on the piano. “Kenji” is an introspective tale of racism against Japanese-Americans during World War II and the effects it had on Shinoda’s family.
On The Rising Tied, Mike Shinoda has successfully created a hip-hop album to please a broad audience. He sometimes falters with below-average lyricism, but the “emotions on the sleeve” songwriting approach, coupled with the excellent production work combine for one of the best hip-hop releases of 2005.