From Linkinpedia
Song by Fort Minor
from the album The Rising Tied
Released:November 22, 2005
Format:Digital, CD, Vinyl
Live debut:June 29, 2015
Last performed:September 8, 2015
Writer:Mike Shinoda
Producer:Mike Shinoda
Label:Machine Shop Recordings, Warner Bros. Records
The Rising Tied tracklist
  1. Introduction
  2. Remember The Name (Feat. Styles Of Beyond)
  3. Right Now (Feat. Black Thought and Styles Of Beyond)
  4. Petrified
  5. Feel Like Home (Feat. Styles Of Beyond)
  6. Where'd You Go (Feat. Holly Brook and Jonah Matranga)
  7. In Stereo
  8. Back Home (Feat. Common and Styles Of Beyond)
  9. Cigarettes
  10. Believe Me (Feat. Styles Of Beyond and Eric Bobo)
  11. Get Me Gone
  12. High Road (Feat. John Legend)
  13. Kenji
  14. Red To Black (Feat. Jonah Matranga, Kenna and Styles Of Beyond)
  15. The Battle (Feat. Celph Titled)
  16. Slip Out The Back (Feat. Mr. Hahn)

"Kenji" is the thirteenth track on The Rising Tied by Fort Minor. The song is based on interviews with Mike Shinoda's father and aunt who were interned in Manzanar during World War II. Shinoda raps about how the family was given two days to pack everything into two bags, the depression, racial profiling, living under lockdown and growing crops for the guards. The voices of his father and aunt can be heard in sound bites.[1]


In late 2006, Clear Channel Music posted the entire The Rising Tied album complete with commentaries from Mike Shinoda before each song.[2] On "Kenji", he said, "When I was growing up, there were groups like Public Enemy, and Boogie Down Productions that would talk about more uhm, maybe political issues, or social issues... just whatever was affecting them, they thought, in their community and personally, and uhm, I don’t know, I feel like, and maybe that’s not completely missing from today’s hip-hop, but it’s definitely something that I’ve never done before on a record and I wanted to do. Uhm, especially when I thought about the fact that there’s never been a song done about Japanese internment. I’m half Japanese. My family was interned during World War II. What happened is after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government basically went through a period, of what we would call now racial profiling. And they took all the Japanese Americans, anybody who was of Japanese descent and stuck them in internment camps. You can imagine, you come home from work, and the FBI’s sitting there and they tell you to pack up your stuff and you’re leaving today to go to a camp for the rest of the war, and you don’t know how long it’s gonna be, and it ended up being, you know, one to two years for a lot of people. Even after that there was a lot of racial tension going on and everything was just very difficult for families like mine, so I wanted to make a song about that. A lot of people when they hear that this happened, they can’t even imagine that this happened in the US, but it did. "

Mike said, "Before I even read about it in a history book, my dad told me about it. I remember my family alluding to it at different points. A lot of families who were interned stuck together because it was such a surreal thing that happened. They formed a bond because nobody else had their back. We’d be at some place, and run into the family they knew from camp. And they’d say, ‘Hi,’ catch up and then go on their way."

Talking about the process of interviewing his relatives, he said, "I knew my dad would do the interview. They are two of 13 brothers and sisters. Nine are left. They are two different experiences that sum up the internment. My dad was 3 to 4 years old and my aunt was in her 20s. She’s in her 80s now; she has experience talking about it. I had to plan my questions very carefully. I obviously wanted to get information she was comfortable telling. It took a couple of hours. She ran out of standard answers after an hour. You have an hour of responses in the safe zone, then they reveal what really happened. She told me about the way they set up the partitions in the room. They used thumbtacks and bed sheets. They had 20 to 30 people in one barrack. I don’t believe there was a toilet; they had to go to center of camp. I’m going to release an interview-only version of the song. There’s no drum loop and no rap vocals. I’m going to put it up on" Mike played the song for as many people in his family as he could, saying, "I ran that song by my whole family. My dad’s side is 150 strong. I played the song for as many people I could get together with. We had a family reunion with 75 to 100 and I played it for them in little groups of 10. I wanted to make sure they were OK with it. I told them if anybody is concerned to give me input. My uncle, who is a very stoic Japanese guy, cried when he heard the song. He could'’t help it. He said he loved it. That’s when I started thinking I had to put this on the album or else I’ll end up kicking myself for life."

When deciding what songs would go on The Rising Tied with Jay-Z and Brad Delson, the reception from his family was so good Mike decided "Kenji" was one of the two songs - the other being "Where'd You Go" - that absolutely had to be on the album.[1] On The Making of The Rising Tied DVD when he was helping Brad and Mike pick songs for the album, Jay-Z said that "Kenji" had a really hard beat. In a Fort Minor Militia chat, Mike was asked what beat does he find "most different" on The Rising Tied, to which he said, "maybe kenji"[3]

In the album booklet for The Rising Tied, Mike put a footnote below the lyrics for "Kenji" about the mention of the word "Japs" in the song. About putting the footnote, he said, ""japs" was used as a degrading, racial slang term in the 40s"[4]

When Linkin Park was on tour for One More Light in Europe, at the 2017.06.11 Prague show, Mike dedicated "One More Light" to his uncle Kenji who had recently passed away. Mike said that Kenji was a very patriarchal figure in his family. He said, "For those of you, who know my old Fort Minor stuff, his name was Kenji."

In 2018 while promoting Post Traumatic, Mike said about performing at the Identity LA Concert & Celebration for Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, "I have a song called "Kenji," which is all about Japanese internment during WWII. My family was interned, and I’ve never gotten a chance to play that song in its album version before. So I got to play that, and it was really special."[5]

When asked about the song he is most proud of ever creating besides "Waiting For The End" (which won the Linkin Park Peru "March Madness" song bracket that Mike filled out), Mike said, "Proud of is an interesting way to put it. Kenji maybe, because I knew that nobody else was going to make that song. Right? And I was like, "I'm in a position to talk about this, what people don't talk about, because it's about Japanese internment." Who else is going to make a song like that? Especially a rap song in a weird meter."[6]

Mike in 2018 also annotated the song on Genius.[7]

He said about the name Kenji in the song, "The story is based on real events that happened during WW2." He added, "I used the word 'Jap'... for historical accuracy. As we all know, this word is not acceptable today. Do not mistake its presence here for an indicator that I think it is cool. It is not."

About Pearl Harbor being bombed, "On Dec. 7, 1941, Kenji goes out his front door and his world changes forever after he reads the headline of the newspaper saying the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor." About the "two trash bags, is all they gave them" line, "Two trash bags or less was the amount of belongings the Japanese could bring with them to the internment camps. (As described in the novel "Farewell to Manzanar")." About Manzanar, "Manzanar, where Kenji and his family were sent, was one of the major internment camps in California near to Los Angeles. On an unrelated note, Manzanar means Apple Orchard in Spanish."

Moving on to verse two, Mike said about the start of the verse, "The soldiers literally looked down at them, as they stood on top of the watchtowers, and they metaphorically looked down at them, as the soldiers claimed the Japanese people were traitors." About the garden, "In WWII internment camps, the Japanese often grew the traditional "victory garden.""

About the line "prisoners of war in their own damn country, what for?", "They were stripped of their rights and treated as second class citizens, even as Japanese Americans were fighting and dying for "their" country. There was even an all Japanese American unit, which included 21 Medal of Honor recipients. It is ironic to think that while they were fighting overseas, most of their family members were in the internment camps."

About the line "the only way out was joining the Army", "Many Japanese joined the US military to escape the camps, and to somehow prove their loyalty/‘redeem’ themselves. Some of these men ended up on the Enola Gay, killing their own people with the A bombs."

About the end of the second verse, "My family came to the U.S. with nothing. By the end of the 1930s, they had one of the most successful businesses in town, a general store / barber shop / gas station / pool hall. During internment, they were forcibly removed from it, where it was left for years to decay and subjected to vandalism. When they returned after the war, it was unusable. They were forced to sell it, and became minimum wage farm hands. No one wanted to hire the Japanese in America at that time. My family were subjected to racism at every turn, even though they were proud American citizens the entire time."

Interview Version

"Kenji (Interview Version)" was released by Mike Shinoda for free download exclusively for Fort Minor Militia members in on January 31, 2006. On March 8, 2006, the song was made available on the Fort Minor website. The song was produced and mixed by Mike. He wrote: "this song is a fort minor militia preview. it will be available on later, but you're hearing it here first. this version of the song contains interview clips only...all the things that were in the interviews that i couldn't fit into the song, but i thought i should put this out there for you to hear. i think this version really tells the intimate side of my family's internment camp story well. also, don't miss this part of the story: my dad's family was pretty successful before they were forced into the camp; when they got out, they had newspaper for wallpaper and were picking grapes as day-laborers. the internment had hit them pretty hard."[8]

The song was released with "Do What We Did" on the same day.


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

Title Album Length Recorded Released Notes
Kenji The Rising Tied 3:51 2005 November 22, 2005
  • Features interview clips with Mike Shinoda's dad and aunt.
Kenji The Rising Tied (Non-PA Version) 3:51 2005 November 22, 2005
  • Censored.
  • All digital releases of the clean album comes with an explicit version of the song. The physical release however, comes with the clean version.
Kenji (Interview Version) 2:24 2005 January 31, 2006
  • Full interviews with Mike Shinoda's dad and aunt.
  • No verses by Mike Shinoda.
  • Released for free download to Fort Minor Militia members in December 2005.
  • Released for free download on Fort Minor's official website on March 1, 2006.
Kenji Instrumental Album: The Rising Tied 3:50 2005
  • Official instrumental version.


"Kenji" was not performed at all until 2015 when Fort Minor made its comeback with "Welcome". Mike performed the song as a mashup with "Castle Of Glass" - the instrumental was a remix of the M. Shinoda Remix found on Recharged, and featured the regular lyrics of "Castle Of Glass" until the bridge, where Mike performed all of the parts of "Kenji" over the bridge instrumental (with the speeches included over the speaker).

The studio version of "Kenji" finally made its debut in 2018 when Mike began touring for Post Traumatic. The song was featured mid-set, eventually gaining an extended intro when the tour went to Asia. Matt Harris would play the extended intro on guitar before switching to a bass guitar during the main part of the song, with Mike playing synth chords before the track started. Starting with the second show of the tour in Bangkok, Thailand, Mike began rapping verse one of "Hands Held High" over the intro. Because "Hands Held High" is banned in China due to their censorship laws, Mike experimented with a few verses during the Chinese shows that featured "Kenji" in the set, performing verse one and part of verse two of "It's Goin' Down" and verse three of "Until It Breaks" over the intro. Following the Asian tour, "Kenji" started getting rotated in and out rather than being a staple.


Last Updated: September 14, 2016

Type Description First Played Last Played
Alternative Mashup with "Castle Of Glass" June 29, 2015 September 8, 2015

Mike Shinoda

Last Updated: May 3, 2020

Type Description First Played Last Played
Intro Ext. Intro w/ No Verse August 7, 2018 October 10, 2018
Intro Ext. Intro w/ "Hands Held High" Verse 1 August 9, 2018 August 19, 2018
Intro Ext. Intro w/ "It's Goin' Down" Verse 1 & Partial Verse 2 August 12, 2018 August 12, 2018
Intro Ext. Intro w/ "Until It Breaks" Verse 3 August 14, 2018 August 14, 2018



Album Version

"My father came from Japan in 1905,
He was 15 when he immigrated from Japan,
He worked until he was able to buy - to actually build a store.."

Let me tell you a story in the form of a dream,
I don't know why I have to tell it but I know what it means,
Close your eyes and just picture the scene, as I paint it for you,
It was World War II when this man named Kenji woke up,
Ken was not a soldier, he was just a man with a family,
Who owned a store,
In LA, that day,
He crawled out of bed like he always did,
Bacon and eggs with wife and kids,
He lived on the second floor of a little store he ran,
He moved to LA from Japan,
They called him 'Immigrant,' in Japanese,
He'd say he was called "Iisei," that meant,
'First Generation In The United States,' when,
Everybody was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the "Japs",
But most of all afraid of a homeland attack,
And that morning when Ken went out on the doormat,
His world went black 'cause,
Right there; front page news,
Three weeks before 1942,
"Pearl Harbour's Been Bombed And The Japs Are Coming,"
Pictures of soldiers dying and running,
Ken knew what it would lead to,
And just like he guessed, the president said,
"The evil Japanese in our home country would be locked away,"
They gave Ken, a couple of days,
To get his whole life packed in two bags,
Just two bags,
He couldn't even pack his clothes,
And some folks didn't even have a suitcase,
To pack anything in,
So two trash bags is all they gave them,
When the kids asked mom "Where are we going?"
Nobody even knew what to say to them,
Ken didn't wanna lie,
He said "The US is looking for spies,
So we have to live in a place called Manzanar,
Where a lot of Japanese people are.",
Stop it don't look at the gunmen!
You don't wanna get the soldiers wondering,
If you're gonna run or not 'cause if you run then you might get shot,
Other than that try not to think about it,
Try not to worry 'bout it; bein' so crowded,
Someday we'll get out, someday, someday.

"Yeah, soon as war broke out, the F.B.I. came and...they just come to the house,
and, 'You have to come.', 'All the Japanese have to go", they took Mr. Ni,
The people couldn't understand, 'Why did they have to take him,
Because he's just an innocent laborer?' "

So now they're in a town with soldiers surrounding them,
Every day, every night, looked down at them,
From watchtowers up on the wall,
Ken couldn't really hate them at all,
They were just doing their job and,
He wasn't gonna make any problems,
He had a little garden, vegetables and fruits that he gave to the troops,
In a basket his wife made,
But in the back of his mind, he wanted his family's life saved,
Prisoners of war in their own damn country,
What for?
And time passed in the prison town, he wondered,
If he'd live it down if and when they were free,
The only way out was joining the army, and supposedly,
Some men went out for the army, signed on,
And ended up flying to Japan with a bomb,
That fifteen kiloton blast, put an end to the war pretty fast,
Two cities were blown to bits,
The end of the war came quick,
And Ken got out,
Big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wife, but,
Then they got back to their home, and,
What they saw made them feel so alone,
These people had trashed every room,
Smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors,
Written on the walls and the floor:
"Japs not welcome anymore.",
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside,
He, looked at his wife without words to say,
She looked back at him wiping tears away,
And, said "Someday we'll be okay, someday,"
Now the names have been changed, but the story's true,
My family was locked up back in '42,
My family was there it was dark and damp,
And they called it an "internment camp".

"When we first got back from camp, it was pretty, pretty bad."
"I remember my husband said, 'Oh we're gonna stay 'til last.'
Then my husband died before they closed the camp."

Interview Version

"I was a kid in, I was a, I was a baby and a young kid in camp"

"Yeah, soon as war broke out, the F.B.I. came and they took some people from Sampedo"
They just come to the house, and you have to come
They just, you know, 'We're from the F.B.I and you're one of the suspicious person'"

"They put them in horse stalls"

"They took Mr. Ni, and people couldn't understand why'd they have to take him
Because he's just an, you know, innocent laborer"

"They put them in assembly areas until, uh, they worked out the logistics to transport the people to their final relocation camp"

"We, they had the assembly center"

"What they did was they put straw on the floor for bedding"

"Then all the Japanese had to go. Each family had a number, so they had their number on this, um, duffel bag. So, they said you have to move out certain day, but you know."

"The barracks were like quads. They had four sections, so you could have four families in a row. There were no rooms. So, oh, yeah. It was cramped, and then, to get your privacy, we used to put up partitions. Sheets. The walls were just boarded with tar paper"

"I remember my husband said "Oh, we're gonna stay til 'last." Then my husband died before they closed the camp, in the camp. Uh, we had four kids and Gracey was born in camp. While I was there in three years, I never went out of camp"

"Before the war, my father had a mercantile. It was very successful. But, when we first got back from camp, it was
pretty, pretty bad. When we came back from camp, we were very poor. We used to, we used to use newspapers for wallpaper. What we ended up doing was we, we day labored. I remember going out and we picked grapes and worked on, you know, farms to make a living."

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