Nu metal might not be the "coolest" genre of music these days, but when it first emerged, it was pretty groundbreaking. And not just for its mixing of genres, but for its mixing of cultures, too.
While speaking with Metal Hammer, Mike Shinoda discussed what type of music he listened to growing up, and touched on the lack of diversity in rock at the time. “I listened to 90-percent rap music,” the Linkin Park cofounder said. “Then I’d look at a lot of rock bands and I’d be like, ‘There’s something too white’ [about it]. That was one of the things that turned me off, especially hair metal.”
“Hair metal felt like very white music and I was growing up in a very diverse city so I didn’t gravitate to it," he continued. "That didn’t resonate with me. And it wasn’t just about race. I don’t mean the color of skin. I just mean the culture of it. When nu metal started at the very beginning, it was a very diverse place.”
Shinoda went on to defend nu metal from its critics. “There was a moment when that term, nu metal, and what it meant, was actually pretty cool,” he said, before poking a little fun at himself. “It’s almost impossible to imagine! I remember when Korn first came out and when Deftones’ first couple of albums came out, and whatever you think about a group like Limp Bizkit, their first album was really raw.”
Of course, Linkin Park's debut album Hybrid Theory also had a lot to do with breaking down the barriers of genre. “At the time, if you asked somebody what they were listening to they’d say … ‘Rock. I listen to hip hop. I listen to jazz.’ It wasn’t until five years later they’d say, ‘Everything,’" Shinoda explained. "Hybrid Theory did some of that work. It was part of the progression towards breaking down boundaries between styles of music.”
Hybrid Theory officially turns 20 on October 24; however, earlier this month Linkin Park released an expansive box set to celebrate the milestone that includes rarities, demos, exclusive artwork, and lots more.
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