Fort Minor is the name of Mike Shinoda's side project, launched in 2005. Fort Minor has released an album, The Rising Tied, in November 2005, along with the mixtape We Major, and a "comeback single" "Welcome" in June 2015.
In fall 2004, Linkin Park was wrapping up their exhausting touring cycle for Meteora, which took them all over the world. The final show of the world tour took place in Brazil on September 11, 2004. Following the tour, Linkin Park released their Collision Course CD/DVD with Jay-Z in November 2004 and stated that they had plans to take some time off before the next Linkin Park album was written. During the Collision Course promotion, they announced that their annual Projekt Revolution Tour would not be taking place in 2005. As it turns out, at around the same time, the band was having internal issues with their record label with Warner Bros Records. When news of the dispute finally hit the press in May 2005, it was stated that “the band is not going forward with plans to record its next Warner album, due in 2006.”
Undoubtedly, Mike had been working on music on the side ever since before he created Xero. He had accumulated such songs and was interested in an outlet to release them. The very first hint Mike dropped about a solo project was in an interview with Soundslam in December 2004 during the promotion for Collision Course, who asked, “Were you nervous at all as an emcee performing with Jay-Z? Did you feel you had to step your game up and come correct?” Mike replied, “Oh yeah! I would have loved to go back into all my lyrics and make them more complex and really step it up, but I thought that would ruin what we were trying to accomplish with the mash-up, so I didn't. I know what I do with LP is more simple, in order for it to work with the rock element. But I think in the future, I will have to show people that I'm capable of more…I guess we'll have to see later! I'm working on some things in the studio right now, in fact. But I won't talk about that yet!”
Also in December 2004, Mike told Blabbermouth, “We are trying to change up the pace a little bit. We'll probably be working on a lot of other projects before we get started on the next Linkin park album. We want to give our fans some different stuff, so as not to be redundant. Everyone is looking for great creative avenues to explore. It's no secret that we like to keep working, so it's safe to say that you can expect a number of things from us in the coming months.” He also stated that he was working on a lot of "hip hop production."
Mike said, "Before Linkin Park, I pretty much only made hip hop. At that time my equipment was very cheap, and I didn't really know much about production or engineering. I've learned so much about production, songwriting, and people in the last few years. I think Fort Minor started about two years ago when I began to wonder what it would sound like to bring it full-circle, to get back to my roots, but use all the tools I have learned since then."
The cat was let out of the bag by Questlove of The Roots in February 2005, who said Mike was working on a solo album. At around the same time, Linkin Park was busy planning Music For Relief, created at the end of 2004, and working on their benefit concert in Anaheim, CA that month. Finally, Mike confirmed the project in March 2005 with MTV, which said, “And what did he do in his off time? Not much. He only recorded a solo album.”
Mike appeared on Fuse's Daily Download in April 2005 to discuss the project and to reveal that Jay-Z would be serving as executive producer of the project. Around the same time, pictures of Mike and Lupe Fiasco in the studio surfaced online. Mike announced to MTV that "Remember The Name" would be the first single from the project, due out later in the summer of 2005. Mike told Market Wire, “My band-mates (in Linkin Park) have encouraged me to share this music with the world, and now that the record is almost finished, I can't wait.”
Styles Of Beyond's management company Spytech Records in April 2005 announced, “xt type deal. Machine Shop Records has the same vision as Styles of Beyond and are here to make changes to the hip-hop game. S.O.B. has also been working on their first major label appearance, “ FORT MINOR ” which features Mike Shinoda ( Linkin Park ), Common, Black Thought (The Roots), Kanye West, Kenna, and more. And catch this…the album is executive produced by none other than (drum roll please) JAY-Z!” They confirmed the appearance of Styles Of Beyond, who would go on to feature on a majority of the album; unfortunately, Kanye West did not guest on the project.
Mike launched a Fort Minor message board on FortMinor.com in May 2005 and discussed the project with fans. Additionally, he invited other artists on the project such as Styles Of Beyond and Holly Brook to join the forum and talk to fans. In one post in May 2005, Mike said. “FM is in no way an indicator that LP is breaking up. LP is fine, in fact we have been talking recently about new music.”
Mike said at the end of May 2005 on the forum, “hope are all well...i've been crazy busy with the fort minor stuff. things are moving a little slow, so the album will probably be out after summer. but the good news is that we hope to get music out to the world earlier than planned. anyway, more details coming soon.”
On June 1, 2005, Mike launched the new Fort Minor website. “Greetings - Welcome to the Fort Minor Official Site. The fact that you are actually translating this portion of the site means that you are either a dedicated fan or a complete lunatic. In either case, we are happy to have you. Enjoy. Also - Keep exploring the site for secrets about the album. It will change without warning.” There was a looping one minute clip of music which later turned out to be part of a sample of what was used on "Introduction" on The Rising Tied. On June 15, a coded message read, “the debut fort minor album is entitled the rising tied in an effort to get back to his hip hop roots, mike wrote and played virtually every note on the album. the album features a group of his friends in the hip hop community.”
In summer of 2005, Linkin Park was confirmed for Live 8 in Philadelphia after Mike was called by U2’s Bono who asked him to participate. Mike said in June, “yup, we're playing...this saturday. philadephlia. i don't know who's broadcasting it, but it will be on TV and online (aolmusic.com). i know MTV is covering it. we'll be doing a couple songs on our own and with jay-z. i'm not going to play any fort minor stuff (i didn't want you to get your hopes up) but i hope you watch anyway. the live 8 organization hopes to create awareness about issues surrounding the G8 conference, in which many of the world leaders will have a chance to make changes in support of stopping hunger, poverty, and AIDS in places that need help most.”
When questioned about the name "Fort Minor", Mike explained, "i am drawn to the dynamics of contrasting parts. for example: the hybrid theory soldier (with dragonfly wings). even the whole style of LP is rooted in these dynamics. the style i'm painting in right now (you can see it on my DC remix shoe art) is like this too--lots of different contrasting parts and styles forced together. the name FORT MINOR relates to this interest. FORT represents the stronger side of things. MINOR has two meanings: small, and if we're talking about music, minor is a darker or sadder key. but although these are my reasons for choosing that name, they don't define the music entirely. the listener has to fill in that part. that's why i kept the name intentionally ambiguous, so that the listener's imagination can help define the connection between the sound and the name."
In July 2005, Fort Minor confirmed their first tour which would be in Europe for August. It was a mixture of festival shows and a show in London opening for The Roots. The same day, Mike was also confirmed by MTV to be scoring the VMA’s that year. He said, “as many of you have heard, i'm helping to score the MTV VMAs this year. it's very exciting. it's the first time they've done anything like this--usually the show relies entirely on the music from artists' albums. this is not your traditional score, though. i made about 10 original short pieces of music for the show, and they will be popping up at various times. i actually don't know where they're being used yet. there are no vocals, just music--varying from rock to electronic to hip hop. i know there are rumors going around about debuting new FM songs -- i won't be performing at the VMAs. but as you have seen, i am starting to play some shows with the new material, so i hope you all can come down when we're near you…”
To promote the album, Mike worked with DJ Green Lantern on a mixtape entitled We Major, which was released October 30, 2005. Other guests such as members of the rap/hip hop group Demigodz were featured on the mixtape as well as Styles Of Beyond and a few guests that were on The Rising Tied, like Celph Titled and Lupe Fiasco.
The Rising Tied
In August, the first song from the project, Remember The Name, was leaked online. Mike commented on it by saying, “thanks for the big support at the shows and on the internet. i understand that "remember the name" got leaked...i didn't do it...but i suppose now that it's out there, i'm glad you're hearing it and liking the song. as for the live show, we're having a good time, and they've been really great.”
The album, The Rising Tied, was released on November 22, 2005 and featured Styles Of Beyond on 6 tracks. Other guests included Kenna, Holly Brook (now Skylar Grey), Joe Hahn, Common, John Legend, Celph Titled, Jonah Matranga, Eric Bobo, and Black Thought.
Fort Minor embarked on a world tour starting in August 2005 that continued through May 2006. Due to the big success of the single "Where’d You Go?", Mike performed two one-off shows with Fort Minor at Summer Sonic Japan in August 2006. These shows were the first time Mike played a Fort Minor set and a Linkin Park set on the same day, which would later be repeated in 2015 in Germany.
After August 2006, Mike returned to work with Linkin Park on their next album Minutes To Midnight. For the next few albums, his hop hop ideas were transformed into Linkin Park songs such as "Hands Held High", "Waiting For The End", and "Until It Breaks".
Comeback & 'Welcome'
In 2012, Mike said that Fort Minor was not over, but he was still focusing on Linkin Park's music for the time being.
In 2015, Mike was working on songs for Linkin Park’s followup album to The Hunting Party when he presented an idea to the band that he felt strongly about, an idea that should be released on its own and performed in the Linkin Park set, but released under the Fort Minor name. In June 2015, Mike released "Welcome", the first Fort Minor release since 2005. To accompany "Welcome", he performed on Conan in June between Linkin Park shows, and played five full Fort Minor shows in Los Angeles and Europe. Since September 2015, there has been no news on further Fort Minor releases, but Mike said he hopes to return to it someday.
As far back as fall 2016, Mike was planning to release more Fort Minor music and perform shows as Fort Minor in between Linkin Park dates on their next world tour. On the One More Light World Tour, Mike had already begun recording new Fort Minor songs on tour.
Mike originally planned for a Fort Minor release of songs in fall 2017, going as far as to run the idea by Linkin Park and get their approval for the release, before Chester passed away in July 2017. "Lift Off" and "I.O.U." were at least two songs planned for this Fort Minor release. On the European Tour, Mike began teasing Fort Minor by wearing exclusive new Fort Minor merch that he designed himself.
Due to the personal nature of Post Traumatic, Mike decided to release the album under his own name, Mike Shinoda, and incorporated several of his Fort Minor songs at the time into the album. While promoting the album, Mike said that there really isn't a difference in the music he releases under his name or under Fort Minor.
- Touring members (2005-2006)
- Mike Shinoda - Vocals
- Takbir "Tak" Bashir - MC
- Colton "Cheapshot" Fisher - MC/DJ
- Ryan "Ryu" Maginn - MC
- Jermaine "BEATdown" McQueen - Drums
- Wilner Baptiste - Strings
- Kevin Sylvester - Strings
- Joseph Valbrun - Strings
- James "Jaiden" Roston - Backing Vocals
- Victor Latimer - Backing Vocals
- David Jackson - Backing Vocals
- We Major (2005)
- Studio albums
- The Rising Tied (2005)
- Fixins: Fort Minor Interview, November 22, 2005
- Linkin Park: Mike Shinoda's Numb Journal, May 22, 2005
- NRG Recording Studios (@nrgrecording) on Instagram: “#FBF! Here's Fort Minor in Studio C! #30yearsofrock #fortminor @fortminor @m_shinoda #studioc…”, March 25, 2016
- Whiplash.net: Linkin Park: Chat summary with Shinoda and Einziger, May 4, 2012
- LPLive: Mike Live Chat Update], October 20, 2016
- https://twitter.com/lplive/status/874300425847140354 LPLive: Twitter
- https://lplive.net/forums/topic/12802-new-fort-minor-shirts/ LPLive: New Fort Minor Shirts