Review Summary: A surprisingly competent record released by a man part of a major band that is dissolving into primordial ooze.
Mike Shinoda is one of the two singers situated within the extremely efficacious artist ‘Linkin Park.’ Even if public respect for Linkin Park has dropped to an all-time low, Mike Shinoda has always been a strong point for the band. Like a rope that is fraying at the edges, Shinoda is the single fibre keeping the line jointed. Back in 2005, where there was a brief influx in music that didn’t make listeners want to cut their limbs off, Saw-style, Shinoda released his debut rap album The Rising Tied
. While his main project Linkin Park were steadily declining into the void of nothingness, the American born rap artist set free a solid record into the hip-hop industry.
Primarily, the vocals within this record are nothing special. They serve their purpose to the fullest extent however, and rhythmically Mike Shinoda is superb. However, like a well-worded riddle, Mike bamboozles listeners with his frustrating inconsistency. On songs like ‘Cigarettes’ he unsuccessfully tries to pull off a slow, austere track, yet the lack of flow in his rapping brings this idea to an ear-splitting halt. Multiple times throughout the album Shinoda obtains vocalists from other hip-hop artists as guest appearances. Styles of Beyond, John Legend and many more are featured in various tracks to great benefit.
From a lyrical aspect, Mike falls into the trap that many other rappers have the misfortune to not foresee; he sings about why he is superior to the rest of society. Although this only appears at a few certain stages in the album, it certainly leaves a sour image – like a prefect who enjoys the smell of his own farts. “Remember the Name,” beholds these grating and uninspired lyrics, and although there is a supporting string line that doesn’t deserve to be catchy, the song still can’t be salvaged. That is, until the grander, more practiced voices of Styles of Beyond kick in and rescues the track. This scenario is not dissimilar to a world that is overrun by self-indulgent aliens suddenly gets exterminated by teenage mutant ninja turtles that have the uncanny ability to speak.
However, Mike does manage to shine in his song-writing ability when he tells us all an effective anecdote about how his predecessors were locked up during World War II. Far from going on about how his rapping is going to take the world by storm, he lays down strong lines such as
“Prisoners of war in their own damn country,
Time passed in the prison town,
He wondered if they would live it down, if and when they were free.”
Although one of his many songs defending his career in Linkin Park -‘Get Me Gone’- begs to differ, Mike barely ventures away from using ‘first-grade vocabulary words,’ in his rapping. This being said, the tracks are just as pleasing to listen to without that extra layer of sophistication. “Slip Out The Back,” repeatedly implies that there is an all-knowing man that walks around like a retard letting everyone know that ‘life isn’t fair’ and that ‘even heroes know when to be scared.’ On the surface they seem like the kind of bantering a menstruating teenage girl would write down in her diary, yet once you poke your head under the water you can witness the lyrics, like schools of fish, growing on you.
The musical loops (with the exception of “Believe Me”), although repetitive and simple in essence, add to the overall atmosphere of certain tracks. “High Road,” would be nowhere near as operative if it wasn’t for the various piano progressions echoing within the song. The drums follow suit with the other instruments, although monotonous, they add a bit of spice to the record as they are disparate to the simple ‘boom kat, boom kat,’ beat you find on most hip-hop LPs.
The Rising Tied
is a surprisingly competent record released by a man part of a major band that is dissolving into primordial sludge. With work on certain aspects, Shinoda deceptively has the potential to release a relevant rap album.