Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Review: Mike Shinoda’s EP, “Post Traumatic” is a Game Changer
January 26, 2018

I wanted to take a day or so to absorb these songs before reviewing them. Every time I’ve done a review of any music, or other art forms, I always like to let things sink in. When it comes to an EP like Post Traumatic, this is especially important for me to do. There’s so much content in just three songs, so I’m going to touch on the most powerful points, without spoiling anything for anyone who hasn’t listened to them yet.

Let us begin by talking about the less obvious aspect of this album: It’s not a Fort Minor or Linkin Park album. It’s Mike Shinoda. It’s not just his name, it’s Mike doing something that is purely his focus and no one else’s. These songs aren’t about topping charts, pleasing fans or re-inventing Linkin Park’s sound for the eighth time. These songs are a highly personalized snapshot into his head. It’s a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from anger and rage to anxiety and depression. There’s darkness in there, a drop of unpredictability, followed by frustration and loneliness. Yes, loneliness. I’ll touch on that more later.

When I look back on Shinoda’s prior projects under the name Fort Minor, and the interviews he would do, he’d always bring up the discomfort with releasing songs or albums under his own name. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense. His name is pretty cool, but it isn’t exactly easy to release a collection of rap songs under the name Mike Shinoda. Any time I’ve made music, I haven’t dared to release it under my legal name, even if I’m just singing. And I like my name a lot, I just know I’d sound absolutely ridiculous rapping “A to the L to the E to the X”. I’m sure Shinoda feels the same way to some degree.

Looking at it from a different angle though, as much as I’ve enjoyed Shinoda’s prior music with Fort Minor and Linkin Park, I enjoy the Post Traumatic EP a lot more. A huge part of Shinoda’s discomfort with releasing music under his name, is that it puts the focus on him. To display so many raw emotions and thoughts, is a huge vulnerability for him. It takes a massive amount of courage to put yourself out there like that. I’m proud of him for doing it, and it’s a choice I greatly respect and support. I hope this is something he continues to embark on, not just because of it being a powerful coping mechanism, but also because every artist has to walk down the road to find a new part of themselves. Shinoda’s voice has a natural reggae tone to it, and I can hear that peeking through to the surface of all three songs. It’s not a new part, but it’s much louder than before. As someone who makes hip hop/reggae music, I hope it gets even louder.

With that in mind, I want to talk about the songs on the EP in chronological order of when it appears Shinoda wrote them. So I’ll start with Over Again, which looks to be growing in popularity already. The song starts with Shinoda singing a powerful lyric, “Sometimes you don’t say goodbye once. You say goodbye over and over and over again”. For anyone who has lost a loved one, these lyrics automatically hit home, and I don’t need to explain them. It transitions to him rapping about it being a month since Chester had passed away, his anxiety about the tribute concert, and then erupts into intense anger. It’s debatable whether or not grief is confined to the stages that psychologists allocate to it, but anger is always a part of it. It’s explosive, and at times, frightening. At some point in our lives we’ve all been royally pissed off about something, and so frustrated by it all that we lash out at everyone and everything. It’s important to understand that no matter how intense that anger becomes, it’s a normal human reaction.

Watching As I Fall is similar because the anger and frustration are there. What struck me about this song is that the lashing out is taken several steps farther. Shinoda paints a picture of a scenario where he is trapped in a situation where everyone around him is closing in. He talks about the idiotic and insensitive assumptions people have made about him, Linkin Park’s future, and how he really feels. All I can visualize is an animal in a cage, and hundreds of people standing around with sticks poking at him until he finds a way to break through the bars and attempts to devour his attackers. Because when something traumatic happens, the wrong people love to push your buttons and make life harder for you.

Place to Start, which is actually the first track on the EP, sounds like it was written fairly recently. It drifts back and forth between singing and rapping, and does so in a way that is so smooth it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. As if the two sides to Shinoda as a musician finally merged together harmoniously. It’s interesting that this is the first track, since despite how sad it is, Shinoda sounds like he is looking back on his career and looking forward at the future of the same career. The so-called stages of grief don’t always happen in the same order, so a person can feel hope and acceptance before anger and denial.

What’s especially important about Place to Start, is that it tackles the topics of loneliness, redefining yourself and ‘moving on’. To be blunt, he has to continue a career as a musician where Chester won’t physically be there. All I can say in response to that is moving on isn’t something we can actually do. If we could, we’d forget the people we love and forget everything they did for us. Last year, after someone I loved died after a battle with ALS, an acquaintance of mine told me to move on because there were other men in the world. The implication that his existence was so meaningless that he could be replaced by some other man was gross. I told this person that I don’t have to move on, and have never spoken to him again.

I highly recommend that you watch the videos that Shinoda made to go along with these songs. They are dark, and a little creepy, but grief isn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns. The visuals will take you deeper into the process, and all of the feelings I described above, plus more. All of which can be found on his website,

On that note, my final thought about the EP is that Shinoda has changed the game. Before he was Fort Minor accompanied by many others, and continues to be a member of Linkin Park, but with those two groups we know what to expect. We didn’t expect something so raw and personal in the face of such tragedy. If he continues this journey, I’m sure that fans will be there every step of the way. I know I will be.