Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda: ‘Hair Metal Felt Like Very White Music’
Sure, the flashy style of metal that dominated the '80s might have ruled the Sunset Strip. But it's not a type of music that set off any creative sparks for Shinoda early on. That's what the rocker remembered in a new retrospective look at Linkin Park's breakthrough debut, Hybrid Theory.
But was hair metal too white overall?
Speaking with Metal Hammer to mark Hybrid Theory's 20th anniversary, the rocker made just such an observation as he summarized the musical stew that was brewing around the time of Linkin Park's emergence.
"At the time," Shinoda said, "if you asked somebody what they were listening to they'd say… 'Rock. I listen to hip-hop. I listen to jazz.' It wasn't until five years later they'd say, 'Everything.' Hybrid Theory did some of that work. It was part of the progression towards breaking down boundaries between styles of music."
The musician continued, "I listened to 90 percent rap music, then I'd look at a lot of rock bands and I'd be like, 'There's something too white [about it].' That was one of the things that turned me off, especially hair metal. Hair metal felt like very white music and I was growing up in a very diverse city so I didn't gravitate to it."
What Shinoda did gravitate toward, however, clearly made an impact on rock music through Linkin Park. Twenty years ago, though, he was still just a budding band member trying to make his mark in the scene and perhaps make more room for inclusivity in the music industry.
"And it wasn't just about race," Shinoda added. "I don't mean the color of skin. I just mean the culture of it. When nu-metal started at the very beginning, it was a very diverse place."
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