Review Summary: You're on your own now, believe me.
Out of all the members of Linkin Park, Mike Shinoda is the one that has probably had the most difficulty in proving his worth. Sure, he is the primary song writer for the band, and these days definitely drives the ship. But in the early days of the band, he was constantly fighting the tide; his rap dynamic with Chester’s singing didn’t go down well at first, and was told to just play the keyboard and keep quiet. However, persistence was the key, and it was ultimately one of the reasons the band became so successful. Mike obviously had a chip left on his shoulder from it all though, and after the release of the band’s second album, Meteora
, he set out to make his first solo release; an experimental rap album that vented his frustrations from the early days of Linkin Park, as well as several other burning issues he had at the time including: things going on in his personal life, family affairs, being on the road, racism and a niggling awareness of the world around him.
Now, it’s fair to say Linkin Park, while their popularity is unprecedented, have always been looked down on by the metal elite as a gateway band to the genre; the butt of jokes, and one that has seen the band ferociously changing their style of sound so much in proving otherwise. So by default, some will see Mike Shinoda’s name tagged to the project and will have a misconception of what the album will sound like, and for those that do, I highly suggest leaving it at the door. Fort Minor is a project I wish got more time of day. Linkin Park at this point feels more like a Frankenstein; aimlessly searching for something that isn’t there -- this could be accounted for their longevity, but it’s starting to show signs of wear. Fort Minor is a group so damn sweet and addictive it’s agonising thinking about the possibility a new album will happen the same time Donald Trump stops being a xenophobic idiot.
Yes, The Rising Tied
really is that good. It’s not only a legitimate masterpiece in its field, but its experimentation with other styles is something that makes it so damn unique; it holds a level of variety that needs to be commended. But it’s the lyrical content that helps make the record so engaging: the emotional ballad of “Where’d You Go”, which touches on his wife’s despair and loneliness while Mike’s away; “Right Now” and “Feels Like Home”, that have an observational aspect to them, one that literally makes you feel like you’re in the same room -- the same moment -- as Mike when he was writing the lyrics; “Kenji” which goes into detail on the Japanese prison camps they had in America during World War 2, and the anguish the likes his grandfather felt at that time; and standing his ground to the naysayers during the recording of this very album on "High Road".
The topics and information provided here is simply brilliant, and it’s all done in a digestible way; you can definitely tell this is Mike’s project, because all the tracks on here -- regardless of topic -- are done in a catchy, pop-like manner, similar to the basic foundations Linkin Park works off: there’s always a sequence of notes nestled in any one track that your ear will gravitate towards, that'll last long after play time. And this is a special thing to have, given how diverse the album’s sound is. It’s hard to really grasp the journey this thing puts you on, and how many different pictures it paints for the listener, because, given the clash in contrast throughout, the album still manages to be cohesive. Maybe this is down to the fact every track shines bright and doesn’t waste your time. There are a couple of Linkin Park moments on here for those looking for it, namely on the album’s single, “Believe Me”, which is heavily reliant on catchy melodies, the driving bass and angst edge to the vocals on “Red To Black”, and the song “Get Me Gone” which brings some insight into the recording of Linkin Park’s debut record.
I can’t fight this album’s corner enough, if you’re a fan of rap music this is fantastic; the scathing, hard beats of “Petrified”, “Back Home” and “Stereo”, which hold the same abrasive flair a Dr. Dre song would have had in the 90’s, should please fans of that era. For fans of Linkin Park, this isn't going to fully deliver on what you'll be wanting, but it will satisfy a Linkin Park fan to a degree; there are plenty of the same ideas and structures the band uses, but The Rising Tied
is a rap record, through and through -- and an exceptional one at that. But I also feel that while I do say "don’t go in expecting to hear Linkin Park", I equally feel this could well be the gateway album that gets you into the genre: it amalgamates all the digestibility a Linkin Park record contains, but showcases what's great about this type of music -- whilst not diluting anything for its core audience. The closing notes for The Rising Tied
is that the different styles and ideas that go into this make it such a rare and unique album, but most importantly, it's Mike's cry out to prove he has more to offer, which he does with flying colours. For anyone thinking Mike lacks talent, you might want to check this, you could end up thinking otherwise.
EDITIONS: TOUR EDITION CD, C̶D̶, M̶P̶3̶
PACKAGING: Red jewel case, with a slipcase.
SPECIAL EDITION: The "Tour Edition" of the CD contains an in-depth documentary on the making-of the record, as well as 3 bonus tracks.