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Mike Shinoda: The Mash-Up

Hip-hop has become such a largely popular genre over the years. Pop artists are collabing with hip-hop artists, R&B singers are collabing and even rock bands are doing collaborations, here and there. But one of the biggest collabos of the present time has to be Linkin Park collaborating with Jay-Z for MTV's "Mash-Ups" special.

The performance between the two mega artists spawned an EP of mash-up tracks called Collision Course, putting some of Jay-Z's biggest hits with Linkin Park's catalog of hits since their debut.

Once the performance hit, there has been much talk of the unexpected mash-ups of tracks. LP's own Mike Shinoda spoke candidly about the experience and his hip-hop influences. You guys have obvious hip-hop influence in your music, so who are some of the hip-hop artists that have influenced you to mesh two genres and become so successful?
Mike Shinoda: I got into hip-hop around the time of Run DMC, Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J. One record I really got into was BDP's (Boogie Down Productions) By All Means Necessary. "I'm Still No. 1" and "Illegal Business" were my favorites. I also listened to NWA and Rakim a lot. I wasn't rapping much for a while and just focused on making beats, but Nas and Biggie's first albums got me back into it. Soon after that, we started Linkin Park. Linkin Park has dropped two highly successful albums and the Reanimation album, which featured Alchemist, Chali 2na, Aceyalone and many others... So I know you are a big fan of hip-hop and have worked to showcase that in your music. How does it feel to work with an Artist such as Jay-Z, who is on such a high level in his career?
Mike Shinoda: To me, Collision Course is a landmark album, because it's a first: two multi-platinum artists getting together, using their original masters and new performances and production to create an album of mash-ups - that's something that has never been done before. I think Jay-Z is an exceptional artist; it was a real treat for me to be able to sit in the producer's chair for this project. Now that album was actually pretty dope and was straight hip-hop rather that rock/hip-hop, why did you guys decide to drop that album and pick the artists that were featured on it?
Mike Shinoda: Reanimation was a way for us to put something out there just for the fans, in a way that let everyone know where we were coming from. Our tastes are a little all over the place, but that's just who we are. By the way, if anyone reading this hasn't heard Black Thought's verse from Reanimation, go get it just for that. You guys have done 6 mash up songs, mixing songs from Jay's Black Album with upcoming songs from Linkin Park for an EP called Collision Course. How did this project materialized and what was the actual process for creating the EP?
Mike Shinoda: MTV called Jay and told him their idea for the live show. They wanted to know who he would like to do it with, and he had his manager call us. I had a vision for what it would sound like, but I didn't think words could describe it, so I made some music. I sent him a CD with "Dirt Off Your Shoulder / Lying From You" and "Numb / Encore" on it. His reply was "Oh Shit!" Needless to say, we were off on the right foot. Besides you are the other members of Linkin Park, big fans of hip-hop music?
Mike Shinoda: Yeah, the guys all like hip-hop in some form or another. Joe (DJ) and I the most, although Brad (Guitarist) and Phoenix (Bassist) aren't far behind. But even Rob (Drummer) and Chester (Lead singer), who don't buy hip-hop albums every week, were really excited about working with Jay, because we all like his stuff. When this new project was brought to the table, what was the overall reaction from the band?
Mike Shinoda: We rarely can all agree on one thing. In five plus years of touring, we've only played two cover songs live as a band, because we can never agree on what song to play. But we could all agree that this Collision Course project was something that would turn out really dope. Now, the MTV performance spawned the idea to get into the studio with Jay-Z to re-perform the vocals. What was it like to get into the studio with him?
Mike Shinoda: As the producer, I was there the whole time, and got to plan everything and see everything unfold. I had Chester show up first, then the rest of the band and Jay. We hung out for a while, then a lot of people left to give Jay and me some space to get his parts solid. He's a really inspired person in the studio; personable and unassuming. But when he gets in front of that mic, he's completely comfortable — at home. I think we were all a little nervous to get started, but as soon as he got in that booth, it was over. How did he feel about rapping over the Rock beats?
Mike Shinoda: Jay can kill it over anything. It didn't take much to get things sounding good. The trick was to make sure everything we were doing sounded natural. There's a real trick and science to that, something a lot of people won't pick up on, but I know is there. Jay couldn't just scream along with Chester's parts, he had to perform it his way. It took us a few takes to get that right, but I made sure we got there. Did you feel any kind of pressure or were you nervous to get in there and perform your vocals?
Mike Shinoda: Yeah, I made sure to do most of my vocals before Jay got in, so that things sounded tight before he heard them, and so I didn't have to go after him! But you can imagine how I felt: I would have loved to go back into all my lyrics and make them more complex and really step it up, but I thought that would ruin what we were trying to accomplish with the mash-up, so I didn't. I know what I do with LP (Linkin Park) is less technical, but rooted in the emotion, in order for it to work with the rock element. The project did make me want to step up my game, though... The overall performance, I think exposed a lot of hip-hop fans that weren't listening to your music to get a chance to hear it. How was the feedback from fans about the performance?
Mike Shinoda: I could see it on people's faces. They lost their minds. It was the best feeling, seeing Jay's fans moving to our stuff, and our fans moving to his. One thing that's been funny about Collision Course is that people are really starting to notice how much hip-hop is in our Linkin Park music, which is great. Ok, now it must have been quite and experience to perform the mash-ups on stage, right?
Mike Shinoda: From my angle, we were just having fun. We weren't nervous — we've been playing all around the world for the last five years. And to feel that confidence like, "we're about to hit you with some shit right now,"... that was a great. It's like having an ace up your sleeve. Collision Course, tell me the songs that are being combined on it?
Mike Shinoda: We got "Dirt Off Your Shoulder / Lying From You," Big Pimpin / Papercut," "Jigga What / Faint," "Numb / Encore," "Izzo /In The End," and "Points Of Authority / 99 Promblems / One Step Closer." Any plans to do any more mash-up songs in the future or hip-hop collabos?
Mike Shinoda: Right now, I want to switch things up and do something different. I'm in the studio right now working on a hip-hop project. I recently had some meetings with Black Thought, Common, and I'm supposed to meeting with Ice Cube this week. I also just did a track for Chali 2na's solo album, and I'm doing some other production as the projects turn up. We'll have to see what happens. - December 06, 2004



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