Music has been apart of my life for a very long time and it’s something that helps me do a lot of things, which range from relaxing, sleeping, getting pumped up and so on. I have always said that music should invoke a type of an emotion out of a person. It should speak to people in ways that they wouldn’t think are possible. But on Thursday, July 20th, 2017 I found out devastating news: Chester Bennington lead singer for the alternative rock band “Linkin Park” passed away due to reported suicide. Even now as I write this I am still saddened by the news.
As a kid who grew up in New York City, I basically gravitated to Hip Hop and Rap as my “go to” genres. I gravitated towards Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Eminem, 50 Cent, Rakim, Jay Z, and many others, but Rap wasn’t the only music I listened to back then, although Hip Hop and Rap were my favorites. All the songs and lyrics invoked that specific emotion in me that I previously spoke about. As I listened to those stories, I felt like they knew my own story. It was almost like those artists mapped out the paths to get out of the trap, which is a major inner city kid issue, along with staying poor, dealing with drugs in your neighborhood among other problems.
But one day a young boy heard a song that changed his whole perspective on music forever; by a little-known song called “In the End” by Linkin Park (LP).
When I was listening to Mike Shinoda rap with the rock style beat in the background, it introduced me to the rock genre that I now know and love. When Chester came in, hearing his vocals on the track for the first time, spoke to me in a way that classic rap didn’t back then. Classic rap was all about getting out of the current situation, but they did not really talk about the internal struggles people have sometimes, and if they did it was only a few songs here and there.
Linkin Park helped people when they got into a mood to vent or angry or when they felt lonely. The main reason as to why that is, is because Chester constantly talked about having to go through those problems himself. That’s one of the reasons why I stuck with them for so long. It was like Chester and Mike knew what I was going through at the time.
LP was a huge part of my teen years growing up. Every time they released an album I would listen to it start to finish or whenever things weren’t going well I would blast them for hours listening to songs that made me feel better about everything. While everyone had bands like “The Red Hot Chili Peppers”, “My Chemical Romance,” “Nirvana” and more, I had Linkin Park. They are my favorite band of all time, without them I probably would not be into rock like I am now. Every music platform that I have has a playlist of just of their music, for instance my Pandora has my LP station ready to go at all times. And ever since Chester’s passing I have been listening to the band nonstop. I try listening to other songs, but somehow during the day, I find myself going back to my LP Playlist.
When the single “Numb/Encore” was released I was ecstatic it was like the two worlds that I loved were combining more than ever. It blew my mind that the combination of Jay Z and LP would make any Hip Hop/Rap and Rock fan happy. The album “Collision Course” was an instant hit with tons of people and it didn’t matter what they listened to.
I love all the things they put out, which is hard to do for a band that’s been around for about 20 years. When they released “A Thousand Suns” I agreed with all of the people that criticized the band for changing their style and not being who they originally were, but I learned years later, that every musician changes. Music doesn’t stay the same, like people, music changes and we all have to be happy that our favorite musicians are still making music. So when the song “Heavy” off of their latest album “One More Light” was released I loved it. Just listening to Chester sing about not having his mind in the right place even though he should and that if he lets the weight go he would be better, it reminded me of exactly how I felt at that moment in time. It’s messages like these that make LP so special to me.
Chester, you brought the world of rock to a city kid like myself and I love you for it. You taught me so many things over the years not by knowing you personally, but just by hearing your messages through your music. I used to be jokingly mad that you wouldn’t let Mike rap more often on the newer albums, but I soon got over it when the next LP album dropped and I would listen from start to finish. Because of you and LP, I wouldn’t know so many great bands today, I would have never played Guitar Hero, and I wouldn’t want to learn or take Guitar classes.
I wanted to take the time to thank you, Chester, for everything and how you moved me and so many people with your music. Rest In Peace.