Music

How Chester Bennington Became One Of Hip-Hop’s Greatest Benefactors

I f*cking hate writing these.

I hate writing them not just because it means the world has lost yet another light, another genius, another source of truth and hope and inspiration, but because it means yet again, baring my soul, becoming vulnerable, cutting open my chest and putting my heart of display for the world to do its absolute worst.

Chester Bennington didn’t seem to have that problem. He was a smallish guy (well, for me. I’m 6’2″), but his voice towered as he would regularly put his pain on display in songs like “Crawling,” “Numb,” and “In The End.” Those were the Linkin Park songs that I knew him for off their debut Hybrid Theory, way back when, I was a skinny, angry, sad, black teen who felt increasingly alienated and confused by an expanding world that felt like it was becoming more scary by the day.

Not only has rock suffered a huge loss, so has hip-hop, in a roundabout way. Undoubtedly, Linkin Park’s remix albums, Reanimated and the oft-maligned Jay-Z mash-up Collision Course, exposed hip-hop to a greater audience, one that might never have had the opportunity to hear compare Pharoahe Monch compare himself to Cyclops from the X-Men, or realize just how catchy “Encore” is without the crossover of appeal of “Numb,” in the same way hearing Chali 2na on a remix album exposed me to the most counterintuitively uplifting songs I ever heard. Ironically, Linkin Park was still using their platform to promote rap just 2 months ago, putting Pusha T and Stormzy on “Good Goodbye,” one of the surliest breakup tunes they’ve ever released.

Let me back up, because you may be wondering how a hardcore hip-hop head, king of the backpackers at Poly High, got wrapped up in a band that had been pegged at the time, embarrassingly, as “Nü-metal?

Well, it all started with a remix album called Reanimation. While on tour to promote their debut album Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park re-recorded a number of their techy, glitchy, hard rock anthems into techy, glitchy hip-hop remixes, adding then-underground rappers like Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Chali 2na, Aceyalone, and the Cali Agents, Planet Asia and Rasco, alongside the group’s own resident emcee, Mike Shinoda, who has also released his own separate rap-oriented project, Fort Minor.

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