As a fan of new anything from Linkin Park, I’m happy, yet not surprised, to hear about their upcoming album, The Hunting Party. The new title, cover art, and release date (June 17th) are all revealed today on the heels of their 1st single featuring Rakim released last month. The cover, per usual with LP, is pretty badass and in the reveal/interview with Noisey, Mike Shinoda spills some details about the album’s creative process. Here’s an excerpt about working with Rakim.
Tell me about Rakim.
There were no shortcuts. When he wrote to the song, he told me it was going to take some time; it took like a week and a half. At a certain point he said, “I’ve got 16 bars, but I want more. Can we do 24?” And he drove out—he doesn’t fly—from the East Coast to L.A., set up a couple shows on the way, canceled them, and then basically came out and recorded the song. He was still writing on it the weekend before he came in, and was even still editing it on paper. It’s not on his phone, it’s not on his laptop, he was sitting there at the dinner table of the studio still working it out.
Do you feel like you learned anything from him?
Any time we’re in the studio with anybody, I try to see what I can learn from them. What I learned from his style was to appreciate the difference between writing in a free-form way—like guys like Jay Z and Kanye who freestyle and free-associate into the mic—and Rakim’s the opposite. He spends a lot of time perfecting the verse. His verse is almost the rap equivalent of a shredding guitar solo, like you listen to it and you can’t even tell the notes because it’s so crazy. When you read the words you can follow along and see how the rhyme pattern and got built out. The rhyme pattern is constantly established and taken apart and re-established. That was the awakening—that form of writing is totally timeless. Even though it’s a little complex and a little much for people in modern pop to digest, when you hear it done well it still resonates. There are people who do complex shit and it doesn’t really hit you, because they’re just doing it for the sake of being complex. But Rakim’s verse is about hitting an emotional connection.
Do you still have the paper he wrote the verse on?
He took it with him. We couldn’t even get a picture of it. He took it out, put it in his jacket, and left with it. I felt like that was part of his routine; like he would never leave that laying around. He probably has a folder of those, or he immediately goes home and burns them.