Creators have been saying for years that the reason they do what they do is to express pain, to share love and to immortalise moments and people they don’t want to forget. The whole reason I began writing was as a need to heal, and to understand my own demons and issues. Writing, singing, playing music, painting, so many of these creative mediums are explored in order to help people survive trauma and to allow them to appreciate the beauty in their lives.
A lot of people, especially around my age in their twenties, will appreciate the music of Linkin Park. They produced a soundtrack to a generation’s angst and delved into a series of dark topics in order to inspire and relate. It was something, along with similar artists that allowed me and so many others to express their deepest emotions through their methods of expression. It is now just over 6 months since Linkin Park’s frontman and idol to many Chester Bennington passed away, a death that was a shock and a source of pain to so many fans across the world. Not that I wish to link Mike Shinoda’s solo career and Chester’s passing, but it features so heavily in his new release ‘Post-Traumatic E.P.’ that it has to be mentioned.
This E.P. made of 3 very emotional tracks are not just heartbreaking but intensely honest, which is something so many people are becoming increasingly paranoid over being as if bringing your feelings into your art is a crime. In fact, as Shinoda’s E.P. demonstrates, it can be a practice in self-healing and in catharsis, when nothing else seems to be working.
Take a look at the first song on the E.P. ‘Place to Start’. The shortest of the tracks, it feels almost like an intro, a musical establishment to his new style (which, arguably follows along a lot of what we became so in awe of before). The sombre, almost subconscious trailing feel to it brings to mind the song ‘One More Light’ from Linkin Parks album of the same name. The song itself finishes at 1:36 followed by a mix of voicemail messages from friends expressing their condolences to Mike over the passing of Bennington. We’re understanding right at the very beginning that, quite frankly, regardless of how the critics pick the E.P. up it doesn’t matter, simply because this E.P. is like an exercise in counselling, a way to understand and justify Shinoda’s ‘post-traumatic’ emotions. A brave, and inspiring task when in such spotlight, in such an unfair industry at times.
The Chorus follows a slightly more poetic and cryptic verse with a statement, a confession of completely truthful candour.
“Cause I’m tired of the fear that I can’t control this/ I’m tired of feeling like every next steps’ hopeless”
Not only are these lyrics so open, and lead by such a tired, desperate voice but they are so important to him and to everyone who listens to it. It is that section of the mind that we always try to deny and that once you read it back, or find yourself writing it you struggle to hold in the tears. It is just such a raw expression of yourself that in this articulation you are releasing some of the pressure, which is both beautiful and utterly painful.
Next is a more infuriated, fed up tune that begins with the horn of a car and Mike’s voice, impatient to move through traffic, presumably. It reminds us of the feeling when everything seems to be going wrong and you can no longer take it, and everything begins to spiral. The beat kicks in, and in a more explicit rap style, Shinoda’s flow and lyricism take us on a personal journey, without any doubt as to it’s content and meaning. He speaks of his direct response to Bennington’s death, and how it does just feel like life is constantly out to get him. The chorus explains how “sometimes you don’t say goodbye once, you say goodbye over and over again”, Shinoda is not just dealing with his own previous troubles, but is having to deal with the fact that because of the nature of bereavement, he is constantly returning back to this stolen, feeling of grief which robs so much of the soul.
The second verse increases in terms of Shinoda’s anger at the situation, as the flow is heavier and faster, and the words more intense “What they saying, I’m not raw? what the fuck you take me for?”. He’s frustrated at the fact he doesn’t know how to answer peoples questions, he’s angry at peoples judgement of his reaction, he’s confused towards his new exemplified feelings and expresses it all so well in this track.
Lastly, we’re given an even faster journal-like entry that details how difficult Mike finds it to go through his bereavement and his difficulties while being watched throughout every part of it. This gives even more respect to the E.P. because we’re listening to him “Thinking I’m okay, but they’re saying otherwise/Tell me how I look but can’t look me in the eyes”, struggling as other people define his feelings in the spotlight, while also understanding that this E.P. is a brave entrance back into it. It is a statement telling everyone his inner feelings so that he can eventually try to move on as best he can. The video for it even ends with Shinoda talking about how hard it has been, and how he just wants to try and get on with his life and do his best to live a good life and make music.
The E.P. is controlled chaos, in the sense that it is this explosion of so many thoughts and feelings and emotions spoken in honesty, but organised into a 3 track piece that doesn’t feel just like a passionate, helpful project for him. It also feels like a well produced, well written and well-created piece of art that lends itself to a positively growing community of work to inspire and encourage listeners to be aware and to seek help.
Mike Shinoda is being brave enough to open his heart out to the public, even after expressing his difficulty at doing such a thing. I can only hope that enough people can see it, and benefit from it, and whats more appreciate the pain that would most likely have gone into its creation.
Below are some links to mental health and suicide prevention helplines:
Samaritans – 116 123 / samaritans.org.
Mind – Mind.org.uk
Papyrus – 0800 068 41 41 – https://www.papyrus-uk.org/
Sane – Sane.org.uk
Suicide Prevention Lifeline – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
1-800-suicide – 1-800-273-8255