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Fort Minor
As part of the LA-based sextet Linkin Park, MC/producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda has already toured the world, played sold out concerts and helped sell over 35 million albums. Fame, fortune and the ability to turn out sales and chart gold with every project he works on is almost a given. Even so, it appears that the young man who was studying for a BA in Illustration before he decided to become a working musician, still has unresolved issues that required a musical outlet separate from his multi-platinum band.

Enter Fort Minor. Though he had veto power over everything that went into the final mix and playlist of Fort Minorís debut album, The Rising Tied, this is more than just an alter ego for Shinoda. For one thing, this is clearly the name under which he feels comfortable releasing harder edged material than the tunes that defined Linkin Park. Gone are the distortion guitars and the screaming vocals that characterized Linkin Parkís sound. Also gone is the kid-friendliness. In a radical departure from the creative decision taken by Linkin Park, Fort Minorís album has swear words strewn all over its playlist. While earlier interviews and behind the scenes footage have tended to paint the picture of Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington as the one with a penchant for swearing like a truck driver, Shinoda drops enough F-bombs on The Rising Tied to draw out the Parental Advisory warnings.

With The Rising Tied, Shinoda becomes the first member of Linkin Park to release a solo record. He may have shed his bandmates for this project but itís not like he is front and centre on all of Fort Minorís songs. Sharing vocal duties with him are acts like Black Thought (of rap supergroup The Roots), Common, John Legend, Kenna, as well as Machine Shop acts Styles Of Beyond and Holly Brook. The thus far largely unknown Brook brings a Dido-esque femininity to the chorus on the first single Whereíd You Go? while Shinoda raps the verses like the anti-Slim Shady on a song about abandonment and loneliness. Shinoda produced and mixed the album in addition to playing most of the instruments and writing all the songs. The album was Executive Produced by Linkin Parkís new fan and friend, hip-hop impresario Jay-Z, who seems intent on retaining the title of Hardest Working Retiree in show business.

The name Fort Minor was chosen to reflect the dynamic between opposites ~ something big and strong (like a fort) vs. something small and slight, or musically dark (a minor chord in music). The name of the album is also a play on words, because Shinoda believes that all the guest artists featured on the album are coming up through the ranks together. While it is tempting to label anything done by a member of Linkin Park on his own as a Ďside project,í it is testament to his commitment to the projects he undertakes that The Rising Tied was over two years in the making.

You can read the rest of our feature on Fort Minor in the April 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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