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What It Meant To Me Will Eventually Be A Memory: Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' Turns 20

Linkin Park pose with the GRAMMY for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 44th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Photo credit: LEE CELANO/AFP via Getty Images

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What It Meant To Me Will Eventually Be A Memory: Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' Turns 20

Two decades after its release, GRAMMY.com looks back on the nu-metal champions' debut album

GRAMMYs/Oct 24, 2020 - 08:48 pm

Back in August, nu-metal heroes Linkin Park released their first new song since the passing of lead singer Chester Bennington in 2017. The song, "She Couldn’t," is a lost B-side from their massive debut Hybrid Theory, which turns 20 this October 24. Built upon a minimalist trip-hop beat and a ghostly Mos Def sample, "She Couldn’t" sounds nothing like the album that came after. There are no crunching guitars, no screamed refrains—just a band in their infancy figuring out the depths of their sound.

Hearing Bennington's voice from out of the ether hits right in the gut. When he’s not screaming away his demons (of which he had many), he could be gentle and sincere. Hybrid Theory B-Side "My December" (not to mention its Reanimation remix "MyHybrid Theory should be better understood as being universally human

"There's some pretty pissed-off kids all over the world," Bennington told The Guardian back in 2001. "I think that's a good thing. Anger feeds change—more so than happiness, because I think when people become happy and comfortable they become lazy and melancholy. When there's a little bit of rage behind, you get motivated."

By the year 2000, Linkin Park had plenty to be angry about. Bennington—a troubled kid from Arizona—had just joined the band as a last-ditch attempt at a music career and a life outside of a cubicle. Meanwhile, vocalist/rapper Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson drummer Rob Bourdon, bassist Dave "Phoenix" Pharrell and DJ Joe Hahn, had spent the better part of the '90s in the L.A. suburbs trying to get their music project off the ground with little success. The band had big plans to change the world, but the world wasn’t ready for them.

Linkin Park eventually landed at Warner Bros, but the label didn’t know what to do with them. First, they wanted the band—who at the time was known as Xero—to change their name (which they did, twice). Then they wanted Shinoda to rap more like Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. When he declined, they wanted Shinoda out of the band and Bennington to be the star (to which Bennington told the folks at Warner Bros to go… well, you can probably guess). On top of all that, their producer Don Gilmore didn’t like any of their songs, and asked the band to rewrite the whole bunch. It’s a minor miracle that these songs ever saw the light of day, but against all odds, Linkin Park released what would be one of the most successful rock records in history—perhaps the last of its kind to take over the world.

It’s easy to forget that Hybrid Theory was a debut record. The rap-rock sound they were going for already sounded so fully realized. It wasn’t just hip-hop or grunge; there was metal in there, as well as bits of screamo and electronica. It sounded futuristic. These were carefully crafted pop songs hidden behind layers of guitars and turntable scratches—decidedly more genre-diverse than their nu-metal peers Korn, Slipknot and the aforementioned Limp Bizkit. With hooks for days, Hybrid Theory songs leaned more into Linkin Park's hip-hop influences, and reached for the heights of U2, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails.

And back to that voice. No disrespect to Mike Shinoda, who was an integral part of the band’s unique indebtedness to West Coast hip-hop, but without Bennington, songs like "By Myself," "With You" or "A Place For My Head" probably wouldn’t have had the same impact. The guy didn’t just yell these refrains, he shred them, as if his voice was on the cusp of tearing into pieces. So when Bennington yelled "SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!" on “One Step Closer,” you damn well paid attention. Meanwhile, underneath the theatrics lurked the aforementioned vulnerability looking for human connection.

And boy did it ever connect. Hybrid Theory debuted at number 29 in the U.S. Billboard 200, eventually peaking at number two. It sold 50,000 copies in its first week, and it has since sold roughly 11 million copies in the U.S. alone and around 30 million copies worldwide. As recently as September 11, 2020, it has officially gone 12x platinum. The track list for Hybrid Theory read like a greatest hits collection, because that’s exactly what it was. It produced four singles – "One Step Closer," "Papercut," "Crawling" and “In The End"—each one bigger than the last, the latter of which being the band’s biggest crossover hit at number two on the Billboard 200. And although they weren’t singles, album tracks "Points Of Authority" and "Runaway" made appearances on rock radio as well. The stats almost don’t seem real, but for a good while, Linkin Park really was the biggest band in the world.

It’s not hard to understand why kids connected with the music 20 years ago. For impressionable teens who grew up in the '90s and who were perhaps too young to appreciate grunge when it erupted, too embarrassed to openly enjoy teen pop staples like 'NSYNC or Britney Spears, or too chicken to buy The Marshall Mathers LP with the big "Parental Advisory” sticker on the front, Linkin Park arrived at the right time. This record was everything for millions of kids around the world at the start of the new millennium who needed a band to scream, cry and identify with.

Despite the magnitude of their success, Linkin Park were never quite destined to be the rock revival act you’d list next to fellow early aughts titans The Strokes or The White Stripes. And yet, the massive outpouring of love and tributes upon Chester Bennington’s death in 2017 reframes the band's long-term legacy. Artists, writers and fans flooded blogs and social media to share the impact the band had on their individual lives. There were stories about people whose lives were saved by the band’s music. That same year, a woman in Orlando used a Linkin Park lyric to save a man from jumping off a bridge. There was no hint of shame in these stories. These people weren’t speaking through layers of irony, or offering sheepish condolences for a lost guilty pleasure. These were heartfelt tributes from those same 30 million kids who screamed, cried and identified with every word Bennington and Shinoda sang on Hybrid Theory. These kids knew that Linkin Park was sincere all along. Most important, perhaps, it was proof that while many of us had since moved on through the musical gateway they provided, we always had a place in our hearts for Hybrid Theory and Linkin Park. Finally, we had found a band that was speaking with us, not to us, and in the end, that’s all that ever mattered.

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction Launched

GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions offers exclusive memorabilia from seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Following the seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit honoring Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman on May 6, GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions has launched the MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction. Presented in partnership with Kompolt, the auction is open through May 19 and features a variety of autographed music memorabilia, including items signed backstage at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert by Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Gahan and Paramore.

Additional auction items include a framed issue of Rolling Stone signed by the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger; vintage memorabilia signed by Tony Bennett, Jackson Browne, Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart, and Barbra Streisand; guitars autographed by Kings Of Leon, Korn, Tom Petty, Kenny Rogers, and Keith Urban; unique memorabilia signed by Jeff Beck, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Muse, Katy Perry, and Rihanna; and a 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards VIP Experience for two including rehearsal passes and hotel accommodations.

To place your bid on items featured in the auction, visit www.ebay.com/grammy. All proceeds will benefit MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation.

Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

Joan as Police Woman

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Quarantine Diaries: Joan As Police Woman Is Bike Riding, Book Reading & Strumming D'Angelo

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2020 - 07:21 pm

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, singer/songwriter Joan Wasser of Joan as Police Woman, whose forthcoming covers album, COVER TWO, includes tracks by The Strokes, Prince, Talk Talk, and more, shares her Quarantine Diary.

Thursday, April 2

[10 a.m.-12 p.m.] Went to bed at 4 a.m. last night after getting drawn into working on a song. Put on the kettle to make hot coffee while enjoying an iced coffee I made the day before. Double coffee is my jam. Read the news, which does not do much for my mood. Catch up with a few friends, which does a lot of good for my mood. Glad it goes in this order.

[12 p.m.-2 p.m.] Make steel cut oats with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, a sprinkling of cinnamon and cardamom, and of course, coconut butter to melt on top. If you’re not into coconut butter (sometimes marketed as coconut "manna"), I’d suggest just going for it and getting it (or ordering it) and putting it on your sweet potatoes, your oats, anywhere you’d put butter. I’m not vegan but I do enjoy hearing the tiny scream uttered by a strawberry as I cut into it. 

Contemplate some yoga. Contamplate meditating. Do neither. Resume work on the song I want to finish and send today. I have a home studio and I spend a lot of my time working on music here. The song is a collboration sent to me from Rodrigo D’Erasmo in Milano that will benefit the folks who work behind the scenes in the music touring system in Italy. 

[2 p.m.-4 p.m.] I traded in a guitar for a baritone guitar right before all this craziness hit but hadn’t had the time to get it out until now. I put on some D’Angelo, plugged into my amp and played along as if I were in his band. Micahel Archer, If you’re reading this, I hope you are safe and sound and thank you immensely for all the music you've given us always. 

[4 p.m.-6 p.m.] Bike repair shops have been deemed "necessary," thank goodness, because biking is the primary way I get around and I need a small repair. I hit up my neighborhood shop and they get my bike in and out in 10 minutes, enough time to feel the sun for a moment. 

I ride fast and hard down to the water's edge and take in a view of the East River from Brooklyn. There are a few people out getting their de-stress walks but it is mostly deserted on the usually packed streets.

[6 p.m.-8 p.m.] Practice Bach piano invention no. 4 in Dm very, very, very slowly. I never studied piano but I’m trying to hone some skills. Realize I’m ravenous. Eat chicken stew with wild mushrooms I made in the slow cooker yesterday. It’s always better the second day.

[8 p.m.-10 p.m.] Get on a zoom chat with a bunch of women friends on both coasts. We basically shoot the sh*t and make each other laugh. 

Afterwards I still feel like I ate a school bus so I give into yoga. I feel great afterwards. This photo proves I have a foot. 

[10 p.m.-12 a.m.] Record a podcast for Stereo Embers in anticipation of my new release on May 1, a second record of covers, inventively named COVER TWO. Continue to work on music (it’s a theme).

[12 a.m.-2 p.m.] Tell myself I should think about bed. Ignore myself and confinue to work on music. 

[2 a.m.-4 a.m.] Force myself into bed where I have many books to choose from. This is what I’m reading presently, depending on my mood. Finally I listen to Nick Hakim’s new song, "Qadir," and am taken by its beauty and grace. Good night. 

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website

Report: Music & Culture Infrastructure Can Create Better "Future Cities"

Hero The Band perform at the Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter Annual Membership Celebration
Photo: Marcus Ingram/WireImage

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Report: Music & Culture Infrastructure Can Create Better "Future Cities"

How sound planning for a creative future in our urban areas makes all the difference for artists and musicians

GRAMMYs/Oct 24, 2019 - 01:27 am

The future, as they say, is now. And for music makers around the world, building a future for themselves often starts at home, in their local creative community and in the city where they live. While technology has expanded communication and made the world smaller, cities continue to grow, making planning for the future a critical cultural mission of the present.

To that end, a new report by global organization Sound Diplomacy titled "This Must Be The Place" examines, "The role of music and cultural infrastructure in creating better future cities for all of us." The 37-page deep dive into community planning and development highlights the importance of creative culture in what it calls "Future Cities."

"The government defines ‘Future Cities’ as 'a term used to imagine what cities themselves will be like," the report states, "how they will operate, what systems will orchestrate them and how they will relate to their stakeholders (citizens, governments, businesses, investors, and others),'"

According to the report, only three global cities or states currently have cultural infrastructure plans: London, Amsterdam and New South Wales. This fact may be surprising considering how city planning and sustainability have become part of the discussion on development of urban areas, where the UN estimates 68 percent of people will live by 2050.

"Our future places must look at music and culture ecologically. Much like the way a building is an ecosystem, so is a community of creators, makers, consumers and disseminators," the report says. "The manner in which we understand how to maintain a building is not translated to protecting, preserving and promoting music and culture in communities."

The comparison and interaction between the intangibility of culture and the presence of physical space is an ongoing theme throughout the report. For instance, one section of the report outlines how buildings can and should be designed to fit the cultural needs of the neighborhoods they populate, as too often, use of a commercial space is considered during the leasing process, not the construction process, leading to costly renovations.

"All future cities are creative cities. All future cities are music cities."

On the residential side, as cities grow denser, the need increases for thoughtful acoustic design and sufficient sound isolation. Future cities can and should be places where people congregate

"If we don’t design and build our future cities to facilitate and welcome music and experience, we lose what makes them worth living in."

For musicians and artists of all mediums, the answer to making—and keeping—their cities worth living in boils down to considering their needs, impact and value more carefully and sooner in the planning process.

"The report argues that property is no longer an asset business, but one built on facilitating platforms for congregation, community and cohesion," it says. "By using music and culture at the beginning of the development process and incorporating it across the value chain from bid to design, meanwhile to construction, activation to commercialisation, this thinking and practice will result in better places."

The report offers examples of how planners and leaders are handling this from around the world. For instance, the Mayor Of London Night Czar, who helps ensure safety and nighttime infrastructure for venues toward the Mayor's Vision for London as a 24-hour city. Stateside, Pittsburgh, Penn., also has a Night Mayor in place to support and inform the growth of its creative class.

Diversity, inclusion, health and well-being also factor into the reports comprehensive look at how music and culture are every bit as important as conventional business, ergonomic and environmental considerations in Future Cites. Using the Queensland Chamber of Arts and Culture as a reference, it declared, "A Chamber of Culture is as important as a Chamber of Commerce."

In the end, the report serves as a beacon of light for governments, organizations, businesses and individuals involved in planning and developing future cities. Its core principals lay out guideposts for building friendly places to music and culture and are backed with case studies and recommendations. But perhaps the key to this progress is in changing how we approach the use of space itself, as the answer to supporting music may be found in how we look at the spaces we inhabit.

"To develop better cities, towns and places, we must alter the way we think about development, and place music and culture alongside design, viability, construction and customer experience," it says. "Buildings must be treated as platforms, not assets. We must explore mixed‑use within mixed‑use, so a floor of a building, or a lesser‑value ground floor unit can have multiple solutions for multiple communities."

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