Fort Minor

The Rising Tied

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Breaking off into his own hip-hop universe, Linkin Park's rapper and in-house producer Mike Shinoda presents Fort Minor, a loose side project with a steady stream of guests, yet a surprisingly personal project too that sometimes puts the listeners right in Shinoda's shoes. On The Rising Tied, Fort Minor can strike the baller pose a little too hard and sometimes the club-minded tracks shout loud while saying nothing. Softening the blow of these standard rock-dude-doing-rap clich├ęs is the production, with constructions that are like House of Pain meets the Crystal Method and a whole synthetic orchestra in tow. As executive producer, Jay-Z calls it during the album's intro, it's a "big sound," and as he focuses on "richness of the sound" he knows this is "something serious." Serious is something Shinoda excels at and The Rising Tied slays when it goes epic. "Right Now" connects the hood, to the 'burbs, to Iraq effortlessly while rapidly introducing a series of lonely people that are all as stuck as Eleanor Rigby. "Where'd You Go" tugs at the heart even harder while suggesting it doesn't matter if it's war or constant business trips are keeping loved ones away from home, it just plain hurts. There's also the bleak and bitter "Kenji" which focuses on the Japanese-American internees during World War II with believable venom. Empty headed numbers like "In Stereo" ("Oh-oh/Ready for it here we go/We got the block rocking in stereo") are the kind of tracks you wouldn't want to be caught dead representing as street hip-hop when in the hood, but if it's filler when compared to the soul-searching highlights, it's damn catchy filler with lyrics innocuous enough for everyday suburban partying. On the other hand, the following "Back Home" finds Shinoda holding his own next to hip-hop hero Common and a little while later "High Road" nails the "all you haters stop playin'" track perfectly and nearly at Twista speed. Even if the album is more TRL than 106 & Park, it's only an easy target for cynical folks who haven't really listened to it. The Rising Tied is brilliant in parts, "Dre Day" here and there, but mostly unique and just as "big" as Jay-Z says it is.

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