Wretches And Kings

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"Wretches And Kings"
Studio-A Thousand Suns Cover clean.jpg
Song by Linkin Park from the album A Thousand Suns
Working title Rygar
Recorded 2008 - 2010
Released September 2, 2010
Length 04:10
Stems Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock (A Thousand Suns)
Neko Keyboard Sounds and Samples[1]
Leaked Multitracks
Time signature 4/4
Tempo 90
Key A Minor
Samples Mario Savio - "Put Your Bodies Upon The Gears" speech
References Public Enemy - Bring The Noise
Live debut September 14, 2010
Last played February 28, 2011
Writer Linkin Park
Producer Mike Shinoda, Rick Rubin
Label Warner Bros.

A Thousand Suns track listing
  1. The Requiem
  2. The Radiance
  3. Burning In The Skies
  4. Empty Spaces
  5. When They Come For Me
  6. Robot Boy
  7. Jornada Del Muerto
  8. Waiting For The End
  9. Blackout
  10. Wretches And Kings
  11. Wisdom, Justice, And Love
  12. Iridescent
  13. Fallout
  14. The Catalyst
  15. The Messenger


"Wretches And Kings" is a political song, featuring excerpts from Mario Savio's "Bodies upon the gears", or "Operation Of The Machine" speech he delivered on December 2, 1964. It features a very heavy hip-hop influence, as well as heavy use of synths. Mike references Public Enemy on the track, the lyric "How low can you go?" directly referencing their song "Bring The Noise". He also claimed that the song has one of the strongest hip-hop sounds on the record, as well as one of the most aggressive.[2] Both Mike and Chester have said that the speeches used in the songs on the album helped achieve a connection between the words and music that they couldn't do on their own, and the messages of the speeches still resonate with problems going on in the world today.[3]

The first mention of "Wretches And Kings" (at this time titled "Rygar") was made on June 5, 2009 via a post on Mike's blog where he said, "We had a big band meeting this week to get caught up on album progress. With all the New Divide and Transformers stuff going on, we've been distracted for a while :) In our weekly meetings, we listen to each song, give it a grade (A+ to F-), and write notes. The grades get tallied (10 points for an A+, 9 for an A, and so on). The written notes are things like "the music in the first half loses my attention a little bit," or "I like the chorus, but the verse is a little weak." My favorite note from this week: "Sometimes it’s nice to have balls." (thank you Dave) The songs all have working titles like "Robot Boy," "Rygar," and "Underbite." Usually the working titles don't sound anything like the song (the name usually comes before we've written a note). All of those titles are going to change, but we need to name stuff to keep it organized. “Robot Boy” got the highest grade so far, at about an 8.75. "Voyage" got the lowest, with a cumulative 3.5 and notes like "sleepy time." LOL. We listened to about 18 song ideas, and I think we'll have another session to listen to another 10-15 songs in a week or two."[4] Two other songs are mentioned here from the album - "Robot Boy", and then "Underbite" (later "Under Bite") ended up turning into "The Catalyst" from this post as well.

Mike said he had been building a library of sounds since he was 16 and part of the drums for "Wretches And Kings" came from a Roland TR-808 machine.[5] One of synths on the song is sampled from the Vestax vinyl PDX-2000 Vinyl Melody Software 1 (Hot Synth Sounds).[6]

Tones were achieved on "Wretches And Kings" through a variety of effects pedals: the bass was run though a ZVex Mastotron pedal with a copious amount of Fuzz. Other ZVex pedals such as the Woolly Mammoth, Tremolo Probe, and the Super Hard On were used on guitars. "The guitar played a great supporting role because it really filled out certain areas," says Shinoda.[7]

In the June 2019 leak of Hybrid Party Of A Thousand Things, samples used to compose "Wretches And Kings" were included. "Rick 808" is the hi-hats from "Wretches And Kings" and the BPM matches with the song (Rick likely being Rick Rubin). "Rygar" is likely from when the band tracked the various processed guitar samples for the song. RYGAR4, RYGAR5, RYGAR30 and RYGAR32 were used on it, RYGAR21 on "Victimized" and RYGAR37 on "Bruiser." Other samples were used from "Rygar" for "Saa'iq" from the Medal Of Honor: Warfighter soundtrack in 2012 as well. Mike mentioned that he named the sample bank of sounds "Rygar" after the Nintendo game.[8]

Before the Honda Civic Tour in 2012, Mike Einziger, guitarist of Incubus, said that his favorite Linkin Park song was "Wretches And Kings."[5]


HavocNdeeD's dubstep remix of "Dopeman" by N.W.A. had somehow gained the attention of Mike Shinoda who posted a video of it on his blog doing a live remix session.[9] When looking at possible remixers for the new Linkin Park album the duo came to mind. Mike explained, "I found out about HavocNdeeD from a friend earlier this year. At some point, I was messing around with a Virus keyboard and did a live glitch thing with their “Dopeman” remix …and later, when we were looking for remixes for songs off our new album, “A Thousand Suns”, we reached out to them. Our new record is more beat-driven and electronic than our past efforts, so I thought it would be a good fit. Their remix of “Wretches And Kings” came out incredible…the bridge section is massive!"[10] HavokNDeeD's remix of the track was uploaded to their YouTube channel in 2010[11] and a second "VIP 2.5" Remix, featuring an original verse by Chuck D from Public Enemy, whom the song references, was released on The Hundreds in the following year.[12]

The Get Busy Committee and Divine Styler also did a remix of the song, featuring a new verse by Mike. It was first released on the Some Kind Of Awesome website in February 2011 before being released under the name "Wretches (Remix)" on Apathy's Fire Walk With Me: It's The Bootleg, Muthafuckas! Vol. 3 compilation album in September 2012.


Note: Only the date of the very first release of each version is listed.


Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Wretches And Kings A Thousand Suns 4:15 2008-2010 September 2, 2010
  • Samples a speech from Mario Savio.
  • Contains a reference to Public Enemy's "Bring The Noise".
  • Digital version is 04:10. The physical version contains additional 5 seconds of "silence" (very low noise).
  • Released on September 2, 2010 for fans who pre-ordered the album.[13]
Wretches And Kings A Thousand Suns (Clean) 4:15 2008-2010 September 8, 2010
  • All digital releases of the clean album comes with an explicit version of the song. The physical release however, comes with the clean version.
Wretches And Kings A Thousand Suns Instrumentals 3:56 2008-2010
  • The CD dates from September 15, 2010.
  • Official instrumental version.


Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Wretches & Kings (HavocNdeeD RemiX) 5:49 2010 November 29, 2010
Wretches & Kings (HavocNdeeD VIP RemiX 2.5 ft. Chuck D of Public Enemy) 5:51 2010 June 2, 2011
Wretches & Kings (Remix) (Feat Get Busy Committee & Divine Styler) Fire Walk With Me: It's The Bootleg, Muthafuckas! Vol. 3 4:12 2010 February 21, 2011
  • Remix by Scoop DeVille.
  • Features a new verse by Mike Shinoda.
  • Features vocals by Ryu, Apathy and Divine Styler.
  • Released by Some Kind Of Awesome on February 21, 2011.
  • Released as part of Apathy's Fire Walk With Me: It's The Bootleg, Muthafuckas! Vol. 3 on September 11, 2012.
  • Labeled as "Wretches (Remix) (feat. LP, Ryu, Scoop Deville & Divine Styler)" on the Apathy compilation.


Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Wretches And Kings Live In Madrid 4:25 November 07, 2010 April 1, 2011
Wretches And Kings (Live From Las Vegas, 2011) A Thousand Suns - Live Around The World 3:54 February 19, 2011 June 19, 2012


"Wretches And Kings" debuted at the first full show of the A Thousand Suns cycle, though the band was uncertain of whether or not they would play it, as noted by the song being in parenthesis on the physical setlist. Through 2010, the song almost always opened the show in conjunction with "The Requiem" and "The Radiance", with Joe scratching the Savio speech. However, the one-off New York City release show, where the song debuted, had "Wretches And Kings" after "Given Up", and Set B-1 had the song after "Papercut". During the 2011 North American Tour, "Wretches And Kings" wasn't played as much. Set A-1 had the song opening the show for the first two shows of the tour, but it was moved after "Papercut" starting at Atlanta. At those shows, the band dropped the speech from the song, as it was played over the instrumental of "The Radiance". It wasn't included in any other set, and the song wasn't played after that tour.

Though it wasn't played, "Wretches And Kings" was rehearsed for the band's 2012 Honda Civic Tour.

Parts of "Wretches and Kings" returned in Mike's Solo Medley, with the verse instrumental being played under the first half of the medley, where Mike rapped a hybrid of the two verses of the track. The medley was dropped during the band's show in Mexico City, and hasn't been played since.

After the Post Traumatic cycle came to a close, Mike posted a picture of one of his pieces of gear he uses to trigger parts of songs on Instagram. One of the buttons was labeled "Wretches", indicating he considering playing the song on tour but chose not to.[14]


Last Updated: December 25, 2015

Type Description First Played Last Played
Intro No Speech January 23, 2011 February 28, 2011
Outro "Papercut" Intro Tease January 20, 2011 January 20, 2011
Outro Instrumental Jam January 20, 2011 January 20, 2011




In Other Media

  • "Wretches And Kings" was released in 2010 as part of a DLC for the 2010 videogame Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock.
  • "Wretches And Kings" is featured in the 2012 videogame EA Sports MMA as well as in its trailer.

External Links