Interview: Mike Shinoda Talks Fort Minor, Modern Rap, and Linkin Park
Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:27:19
Shinoda opens up about what he's learned since The Rising Tied, the future of Fort Minor, new hip-hop he digs, and so much more.
Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda uncovered the first Fort Minor track in a decade last week, "Welcome." The song stands out as a display of his cinematic, snappy rhyming and impeccable songwriting. It also illuminates a palpable progression since Fort Minor's phenomenal 2005 debut, The Rising Tied. He's taken all of this new wisdom accrued over the years and further carved out his own lane in rap music, bringing together big melodies, intriguing instrumentation, and spirited bars. Welcome to the next phase for Shinoda. He spoke to us in this exclusive interview about "Welcome," the future of Fort Minor, new hip-hop he's loving, and so much more.
"Welcome" picks up where you left off with The Rising Tied, but it also feels like you're treading different territory too.
I feel like I've learned a lot of ways to make a song since then. My toolkit is a lot bigger now than it was when I did the first Fort Minor record. There's even just the fact I feel like I can sing a little bit now. Back then, I was really uncomfortable singing. I could probably have done it, but I didn't have as much practice as I do now. Even in the studio—if you think back to the Fort Minor album—we had just come off of Hybrid Theory and Meteora. I was thinking of everything in those terms. I was wondering if I had made a song outside of Hybrid Theory and Meteora—if that would even be acceptable to the fans, to myself, and what to do with it. A lot has changed.
Do you write all of your lyrics out, or do you tend to freestyle in the booth more?
I do a little bit of a mix. Everything is written. A lot of times though, as I go, I may let the track run and record. I call it, "traintracking it." You lay a couple of traintracks out, and then you do those again. Mayne you try and get to the next one, and then you try to get two, three, or four more bars on it. I learned that actually watching Jay-Z. There are a lot of artists that do it. Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco all do it that way. It works pretty well for me. I do that a little bit, but for my style, I definitely go back in, tweak words, and write everything out to make sure there's that level of scrutiny that I put on the vocals.
What's the story behind "Welcome"?
At the time, I was a little frustrated. It's clearly an outsider song, feeling like I didn't belong or whatever. I think back to what was going on. The band was at a point where not a lot was happening, which is relative, because everything is always crazy with the band. We were sort of in-between projects, and I don't know exactly what the time period was. I was reflecting on how I ended up where I'm at. The more I looked at it, the more I felt like, "Being an outsider doesn't necessarily mean that you have to feel bad about it." There's a sense of coming to terms with it on my own in the song. It's funny because it was organic and fluid. It all popped out at once. That's unusual for me. The song was done before I even knew it. I listened to it and went, "Oh my God, this is not a Linkin Park song."
Watch "Welcome" by Fort Minor:
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