just here getting ready to have a Halloween party at my house. And making
a second to talk to HipHopGame!
how long have you been working on this project?
years. I used to do a lot of production and rap over my own beats before
Linkin Park started, so Fort Minor gives me a chance to get back to that,
but this is like the updated version.
you start rapping?
I was writing
raps in around 1989, I think. They were awful, because I was listening
to N.W.A. and 2 Live Crew, and I was about twelve.
make the beats especially for this project or was it just beats you had
I made everything
specifically for this project. My goal was to write and play every note
on the album, and I came pretty close to doing that.
of vibe were you looking for on "The Rising Tied?"
I was going for was a more organic sound. I wanted it to feel like it
was played by hand and not so much sequenced and keyboard-ish.
of equipment did you use?
I have a
lot of stuff I go to: MPC, Akai S-900, Korg and Roland keyboards, and
all the ProTools gear and plug-ins I can get my hands on. I work in the
computer, mostly. I also used different guitars, bass, and percussion
instruments, plus vintage stuff like a Hammond B-3 organ.
did this project take you?
about two years. That's because I had to get the vibe straight when I
was getting started, and once I got on track, we powered through most
of the tracking in about two or three months.
an organic sound, how important was that for this project?
hop right now is made completely on keyboard, and it feels so stiff. Back
before samplers, people used to play with a feel. If it wasn't perfectly
on-beat, that was okay as long as it had a good feel. I wanted to have
a little bit of that. I played most of the instruments by hand, bass,
guitar, keyboard, percussion. Even though I have lots of tambourine sounds
on my keyboard, I went out to the store and bought a couple real tambourines,
just so I could actually play them by hand.
people look on the computer screen and see a sound is off, their instinct
is to go in and fix it. That's why it sounds so rigid. I just thought
it would be a fun experiment to go against that. Most times, I treated
a part like it was a sample, where I would loop a part that had a good
is the MPC on stage?
In my stage
show with Fort Minor, it's less important. We play some supporting tracks
off of ProTools-but I don't use prerecorded vocals. I have a thing against
that. They always feel weird to me, and I think if you can't actually
perform the stuff on stage, then don't play live.
the most exciting album you've worked on?
album is exciting to me. I've been waiting to get this Fort Minor album
out for a while, so I can't wait until November 22, when it's finally
Rising Tied" is executive-produced by Jay Z, what kind of work collaboration
Just to make
it clear, Jay didn't write anything, he oversaw the project in a different
way. When I make music, I tend to just let the ideas flow and whatever
comes out comes out. That's usually a good thing, because it makes me
versatile. But I was worried that the Fort Minor record might lose some
consistency if the songs were too all over the place. I like a record
to have an identity from beginning to end. That's why I asked Jay to be
my executive producer. He helped me pick through all the rough songs I
was thinking about using and telling me which ones to keep, which ones
to fix up, and which ones to throw out. His input was really valuable.
Common, Black Thought, Ghostface and more, was it hard to convince them
to be part of this album?
actually on our mixtape with Green Lantern. The mixtape is called "We
Major" and it's out there on the internet right now. It's kind of
like the setup for the album. The album is called "The Rising Tied."
That's a play on words: this "tied" group of people, including
Common, Black Thought, John Legend, Styles of Beyond, and Holly Brook-everybody
is "rising" together in the music world right now.
got Lupe Fiasco, an MC we've been supporting for some time now, how did
you get familiar with him?
I met him at a party on Jay's yacht. Sounds swanky, right? (laughs) It
was pretty much a situation where there was a V.I.P. within a V.I.P. within
a V.I.P., and I knew pretty much everyone there except him. I wanted to
find out who this dude was. We got to talking, and just kept in touch.
He's a good guy, and I think we think in similar ways.
done work with Styles of Beyond, are they friends of yours?
known them for about eight years ago. I did their original logo, the one
they've got tattooed. You can check their album credits on "2000
Fold," I did the art direction. So when I started doing this Fort
Minor thing, and I ran into them, we just naturally started making some
made you want to pair them on a track with Juelz and Celph-Titled?
Ryu and Celph
are good friends, and we all listen to Dipset. We met Santana outside
the MTV VMA's this year, and we swapped numbers. Apparently, Santana was
pretty excited about the song too. That song's on the "We Major"
mixtape as well.
you go about picking what songs would go on the album and what songs would
go on the mixtape?
did the mixtape after the album was done. The mixtape is on some "promotional
use only" shit. We did it just for fun, and used samples just because
we were messing around. You know, mixtapes are mixtapes and albums are
albums. The album is a little more serious, more based in writing a song
from scratch and playing all the parts. I think overall, though, that
the mixtape is a great setup for the album, and I'm glad people are getting
into it. The feedback has been really strong, and I know that if people
like the mixtape, they'll be feeling "The Rising Tied" too.
you say you had more of a Hip Hop or rock education?
I think my
musical education began in classical music and Hip Hop. The first type
of music I listened to ever was hip hop. In the beginning of the Yo! MTV
Raps days. Run-D.M.C., LL, Beastie Boys, Biz, N.W.A., Kane
stuff. then, once I started really learning my way around a piano, I started
picking out rap loops. I studied classical piano for about 10 years.
other Linkin Park members involved at all?
has a guest appearance on the song "Slip Out The Back." Also,
Brad Delson, our guitarist, helped me with the direction of the album
by being my A&R. That means he, with Jay-Z, helped me pick which songs
should go on the record, and gave me his opinion on how to structure and
arrange them. Some of his advice I took, and some I didn't! (laughs)
you approach this project differently than a Linkin Park project?
started with me asking myself, "If I take the hip hop I used to do
before LP, and add in all the songwriting and touring and world experience
I've had in the past six years, what would I come up with?" That's
where it started, and here we are.
Jay-Z collaboration increase your fan base?
I don't know.
We had already sold 35 million albums around the world before we did one
song with Jay, so it's hard to say how the fan-base was affected. But
I know that as artists, we just keep growing and doing different things,
and it was just as new for Jay as it was for us. Maybe even more new,
because I would imagine that we focus more attention on Hip Hop in what
we do than Jay does on rock.
the biggest challenges for you with the Jay-Z project?
the gap right. You've got to have a love and respect for both parts when
you're doing a mash-up. And as Jay will tell you, since I was the one
putting the "Collision Course" music together, I had to know
every part of every song well in order to make it sound smooth.
seems to be more collaborations between artists in Hip Hop, why is it
so rare in rock music?
be a long answer. I think it might be because a rock album takes so much
time and work to do. Most Hip Hop albums are based on getting beats from
different people, and sometimes that hook is already on there. You just
have to lay the verse, and it's done. On a rock album, you have to start
from scratch and make every note and every sound, every melody and every
word. Plus, once you're done, you have to go out and play the songs live,
and it would be weird to skip a part in a rock song because the "guest
vocalist" can't be there. I think it's more of an artistic decision-and
one last thing: at least for us in Linkin Park, I know we want our albums
to sit on a foundation that we built ourselves, that nobody can say our
album's quality sits in the hands of someone else.
do you see Hip Hop going in the future?
for a lot of different things. I just hope there's more variety, less
sticking to the same topics and sound.
next for you?
forward to the release date: November 22. In the meantime, I'll be touring
and posting on fortminor.com-staying in touch with the fans and making
sure people know what's going on with the album.
you want to say to everyone out there?
I guess if
I wasn't in music, I'd be the kid who writes into the music magazines
and tells them that I want to see something different. There is so much
of the same going on right now, and although I like some of it, I think
there's room for more music that doesn't comfortably fit into all the
same categories. This Fort Minor album is going to be a challenge for
people because it's different. But I know when people actually get to
hear it, they'll see what I'm talking about. They'll get the reward.