Mike Shinoda: rock and metal were “too white” before nu-metal

He also cited hair metal as a particular genre lacking in diversity.

Mike Shinoda

Image: Beth Gwinn / Getty

Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda has spoken about his views on how nu-metal as a genre changed rock and metal’s demographics, as well as how it changed heavy music overall.

Speaking to Metal Hammer, Shinoda said: “I listened to 90% rap music, 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. That didn’t resonate with me.

He clarifies his point further, saying: “It wasn’t just about race. I don’t mean the colour of skin. I just mean the culture of it. When nu-metal started at the very beginning, it was a very diverse place.”

Shinoda also noted that music listening habits changed, and since the very early 2000’s fans were territorial about 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’.” This is a change he attributes to the genre-blurring nu-metal of the time, including Linkin Park’s own 2000 record: “Hybrid Theory did some of that work. It was part of the progression towards breaking down boundaries between styles of music.”

That transformative combination, for Shinoda, made the genre much cooler at the time than it’s looked back on – “There was a moment when that term, nu-metal, and what it meant, was actually pretty cool. 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. There were all these groups like Snot and Hed PE, and it wasn’t smart music, but there was something really visceral and cultural blending that was important.”

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