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From Linkinpedia
(Redirected from I.O.U.)
Song by Mike Shinoda
from the album Post Traumatic
Released:June 15, 2018
Time signature:4/4
Live debut:June 20, 2018
Writer:Mike Shinoda
Producer:Mike Shinoda
Label:Warner Bros. Records
Post Traumatic tracklist
  1. Place To Start
  2. Over Again
  3. Watching As I Fall
  4. Nothing Makes Sense Anymore
  5. About You (feat. Blackbear)
  6. Brooding
  7. Promises I Can't Keep
  8. Crossing A Line
  9. Hold It Together
  10. Ghosts
  11. Make It Up As I Go (feat. K.Flay)
  12. Lift Off (feat. Chino Moreno & Machine Gun Kelly)
  13. I.O.U
  14. Running From My Shadow (feat. grandson)
  15. World's On Fire
  16. Can't Hear You Now

"I.O.U." is the 13th song off of Mike Shinoda's debut studio album, Post Traumatic.


"I.O.U." was one of the last songs added to Post Traumatic, with it originally being seen as a Fort Minor song and making reference to the project in the first verse. Mike said that he did the intro to the song on his phone, similar to "Lost In The Echo."[1] He commented, "I did "I.O.U" on my phone, not the whole thing, but I got the beat started on my phone."

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 tracks on tour.[2] 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.[3][4]

Mike told Ultimate Guitar, ""I.O.U." was a track I was working on and was thinking it could be a Fort Minor song, which was unfinished. I worked on it, rewrote it and finished it for the album."[5]

Mike told Genius, "This song was a late addition to the album. I had originally envisioned the track as a Fort Minor track, but it seemed to round out the Post Traumatic album well, with some much needed lyrical firepower. I had a horrible year, and my friends told me, once they heard me talking sh*t in a rap song, they knew I was getting better."[6]

Lyrical Breakdown

About the line "yeah, levitatin' off the blacktop", he said, "This line is like the tip off." About the line, "tell 'em take an I.O.U.", he said. "I.O.U. (I owe you). This song is about people who want to take something from you, whatever that may mean."

About the line "levitatin' in the blackout", he said, "I liked the basketball imagery ("levitating off the blacktop") in the first verse, and I wanted to flip it for the second verse. Levitating in the blackout is a more sci-fi kind of image, and set a film-like kind of tone for the second verse." About the line "used to drink at least a forty 'fore we mashed out", he said, "When I was in high school, we listened to Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, who always rapped about drinking 40s. That was pretty much what we drank at every party, until my mom caught me drinking underage. Needless to say, I was in big trouble."

About the lines "used to think that workin' forty was a max-out / now I'm workin' even when I'm sleepin', do the math now", he said, "When I'm working hard on a song, I will literally dream about it. I'll wake up singing it and thinking about how to make it better." About the following two lines "'cause even when I'm sleepin', eyes keep 'em open / stripe across 'em both the color of your hemoglobin", he said, "All my close friends know this – and most have seen it– I literally sleep with my eyes open. They're open a tiny bit, and I will watch people moving around the room. The result of this is that I have a red line across the middle of both eyes. It's worse on days when I've gotten less sleep."

About the line "X-23 I'm keen to leave 'em with a femur broken", he said, "In the Logan / Wolverine story, Logan was asked to protect X-23, a little mutant girl who was created in his image. Dafne Keen was the actress who played X-23 in the film. Hence "Keen" to leave em with a femur broken."

About the line "I'm '81 Reagan with that nonsense, miss me", he said, "In 1981, an assassination attempt was made on president Ronald Reagan. It was unsuccessful." And finally, about the line "father like Francis, Anakin or John Misty", he said, "Pope Francis=father of the Catholic Church, Anakin Skywalker=father of Luke, John Misty=Father John Misty"

Music Video

At the Chicago, IL Post Traumatic Tour show on November 11th, 2018, fans noticed that Mike was being filmed on stage while performing "I.O.U." on stage.[7]

A music video for "I.O.U." was shot, directed and edited by Chady Awad and released on March 4th, 2019 following a teaser from Mike on March 1st.[8] Chady would go on to document Mike on the European Post Traumatic Tour in 2019 as well. The video features footage shot at various locations during the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour in 2018 such as Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Tampa, Dallas, Montreal, Los Angeles, Denver and Anaheim. An edited version of the song was used in the video, being 20 seconds shorter than the album version.


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

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
I.O.U. Post Traumatic 2:43 2017-2018 June 15, 2018
I.O.U. (Official Video) 2:24 2017-2018 March 4, 2019
  • Short ending.
I.O.U. Post Traumatic - Instrumentals 2:42 2017-2018
  • Official instrumental version.


Mike added "I.O.U" to the setlist last minute at the Post Traumatic release show in New York, where it opened the encore. The song was a setlist staple until the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, where it was added to the regular rotation.


  • Written and produced by Mike Shinoda
  • Vocals by Mike Shinoda
  • Mixed by Jaycen Joshua
  • Mastered by Michelle Mancini


Album Version

Yeah, levitatin' off the blacktop
Used to struggle getting started now I can't stop
Used to be the quiet kid in the sandbox
Now it's “Hands up” every time that your man rocks
You oughta stop me coming in again
You mad? You thought we were synonyms?
Too bad, that's the water you're gettin' in
You're too fat for the sharks that you're swimming in
From where I'm sitting contenders, lookin' like fruits spinnin' around in a blender
Hardly a snack when I'm here lookin' for dinner
I eat 'em, delete 'em, they're barely beginners
Main course is my main sport
Play major, but minor's my main fort
Put a chain around everything I came for
Look but don't touch, sucker
Tell 'em take an I.O.U!

Say they want respect now, thinking they deserve to have it next now
Tell 'em take an I.O.U
Beleavin' what they makin' up, talking loud but never really sayin' much
Tell 'em take an I.O.U
I been drawin' plans out and they think I'm givin' them a handout
Tell 'em take an I.O.U
Thinking they're entitled to a piece, no, I don't think so
Tell 'em take an I.O.U

Levitatin' in the blackout
Used to drink at least a forty, for we mashed out
Used to think that workin' forty was a max-out
Now I'm workin' even when I'm sleepin', do the math now
'Cause even when I'm sleepin', eyes keep 'em open
Strapped across and both the color of your hemoglobin
A huge act man like I'm known for being Logan
X-23 I’m keen to leave 'em with a femur broken
Takin' it too far, maybe
Friends like “Mike I don't know who you are lately”
But pride and hate has made nay-sayers mistake me
For wasting brain space on ratings they gave me
I don't need your respect, I got history
I'm ‘81 Reagan with that nonsense, miss me
Father like Francis, Anakin or John Misty
Not to be touched, sucker
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.!

Say they want respect now, thinking they deserve to have it next now
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.
Beleavin' what they makin' up, talking loud but never really sayin' much
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.
I been drawin' plans out and they think I'm givin' them a handout
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.
Thinking they're entitled to a piece, no, I don't think so
Tell 'em take an I.O.U.


External Links