ESSAY// linkin park want me to save the world

“Good Goodbye,” the last video Linkin Park released while Chester Bennington was alive, takes place in a dark arena where Death resides over a superpowered, apocalyptic dunk contest. Death is played by National Basketball Association legend (and author of Black Profiles in Courage) Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Chester acts as one of the contestants who rises to the top as the real life Linkin Park Chester sings from 2o17 in a dope ass outfit in front of a Mercedes Benz with G O.O.D. Music President Pusha T, Mercury Prize nominee Stormzy and fellow bandmate Mike Shinoda.

At the end of the video Chester faces his final opponent: a poor little girl in hand-me-downs. She steps up, glows up, and flies from half court to the basket and jams as an explosive blue wave blows everything away, including Chester, the Benz, and Death itself!! This girl is me.

The first word of Linkin Park’s 2010 masterpiece A Thousand Suns is God. The full phrase is “God save us everyone,” I have to write this to you not because I think I’m God, there is no God, but I am who they were talking about. I am Chester’s living wish that his (life & death) send the vibes needed to save this world and bring us to the new future of love.

In the video for A Thousand Suns‘s climax, “The Catalyst,” Chester tries not to drown and suffocate in an apocalyptic wasteland as a hooded figure sits in a car alone, facing the camera. This figure is obviously the titular Catalyst. The government shows up in gas masks, there’s a riot* at first it seems like The Catalyst is representing Death or the plague or negativity. Stuff like this is why people think ATS is about the impending nuclear destruction of humankind. HOWEVER, The Catalyst does a magic spell on the viewer then goes rushing up at the government troops. When we see the rioters next, as all of humanity cries “Lift me up, Let me go,” they are covered in rainbow powder and the riot has turned into a slow motion mosh pit of free people as fading choruses, intertwined, repeat: “God save us everyone…”

(((For Whom The Bells Tolls)))

When “Good Goodbye” drops I am 25 years old and in love. I am homeless. Its verses make me cry. Talking about the video makes me lose a game of basketball. I am playing #nomoneynoborders.

When Hybrid Theory drops I am a ten year old kid who is at once the weirdest, most popular, meanest, most thoughtful, impulsive, & messiest child at my gifted center. I am maintaining friendships with people from all over the world through a chatroom website, developing several personas, creating raps and stories and listening to any music that will come on a screen or out of some speakers.

When Meteora drops I am obsessed with The Matrix Trilogy* I already believe that I am The One being described through the film’s energy and metaphors. I am a moderator in several creative global communities and twelve years old.

When Minutes to Midnight comes out I feel too mature for Linkin Park and question yet admire their shift into “social-political” themes. I am the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, soon to be the captain of the school’s Louder Than A Bomb poetry slam team, soon to release my first albums, and active in leading several programs about genocide & pollution for the benefit of black folk around me in class. I am still on the debate team which means ritualized spontaneous & thorough dissection of socio-political issues with the american millennium’s other most brilliant young communicator$. I am different from all of them. I am different & learning from everyone at my all-black school infested with gang violence & teen pregnancy. I decide I’m going to change the education system.

I remember first listening to Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns at a United Postal Service slave job. It was 2014, I was on hiatus from doing art & community organizing with no way out of my dead end work and college classes but an inextinguishable hunger for creativity and political science.

Holy shit, I thought. LINKIN PARK want me to save the world. This is different from Linkin Park wants to make dope shit, or Linkin Park wants to make me feel better about my life situation, Linkin Park is trying to relate to me, or even Linkin Park is trying to sell records. This felt like a private message from an entity that had no business making something this passionate, strange, emotional, and direct. These were my friends, my angels, back to the future and channeling something.

After I quit the job~ I watch a lot of movies. Movies like Interstellar and Scorsese’s Jesus film. I see what you call God in their heroes, something pure and special and waking me up to new levels of reality and freedom. I try to communicate to my family that art is telling me we are free, as free as “god,” and can do anything we want to save the world.

“Waiting for the End” is one of Chester Bennington’s many songs about suicide. It comes near the middle of A Thousand Suns and is where he dies in the album’s narrative. The next song “Blackout” begins with The Catalyst calling on the “spirit” of Chester, who is referred to as The Messenger. They become one.

And then comes the album’s first glimpse of utopia: “FLOATING OUT AS COLORS FILL THE LIGHT I LOOK FROM THE GROUND IN FIELDS OF PAPER WHITE AND FLOATING UP THE PASSING IN THE NIGHT A FUTURE GAZING OUT A PAST TO OVERWRITE
SO COME DOWFAR BELOW
WE VE BEEN WAITING TO
COLLECT THE THINGS YOU KNOW
COME DOWN
FAR BELOW
WE’VE BEEN WAITING TO COLLECT WHAT YOU’VE LET GO
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
come down oh”

When Chester Bennington dies my partner & I are planning Perform/Transform, a festival to save the world. We are two of the most well-known & fondly regarded figures in our community full of prodigies and brilliant activists. They call us the President & 1st Boi of the World.  We are in the middle of an experience being called The Chicago Renaissance and the planet is in a turmoil never seen before. I watch “Good Goodbye” and rap every word, weeping uncontrollably.

My name is +, I am twenty-six years old, I am a wandering brown-skinned revolutionary* kin with empaths, sex workers, and some of the best rappers in the world, i am instrumental in the radical black community that brought the planet’s most celebrated young artists & community organizers to fruition. I have been vegan or vegetarian for most of the past decade* I direct a grassroots nonprofit garden in a food desert that is open to the community & respected & successful that I am branching into an organization of locally run farms and I run a wildly popular justice network that heals the way people deal with violence and communication. For free, anywhere, no money & no borders!

After walking out of the slave job and looking at the world around me with my brilliant eyes and deepened heart and wondering why everyone else hadn’t realized that we are already in a living utopia I gave my life to studying our persisting illusions. I have been building their ending.

PERFORM _ TRANSFORM rgb-1

Our festival is here to link people all over the world in expressing their wildest hopes & dreams in person and  via social media using the hashtag #nomoneynoborders! People are doing open mics, workshops,rock shows, meditation sessions and more! As a game, #nomoneynoborders utilizes accessibility & cutting edge technology to reward individuals for sharing their perspective of a free world in their own special way. It reunites folks beyond ethnicity, class, nationality, religion~ any of those contexts thrust upon us in the aftermath of scarcity & division that spoil the honeyed milk of creativity & culture.

With the power of #nomoneynoborders I declare A Thousand Suns and all of Linkin Park’s work as true and alive* my free world is IRIDESCENT, I free myself, Linkin Park fans all over the world, what they call God, and art, I free us all!! I play~ you play~ we grant ourselves freedom by taking it seriously as fun. You have our permission to play, to dream, and for your word to become real enough to save lives. Fuck a vote!

I know a lot of rappers who will play. They refer to their selves as God all the time in raps. What they’re actually saying is that they’re geeked about getting a higher than average amount of people to like them enough so that they can move around and express more freely. Art moves them through the scarcity & division, in that way it can be the most freeing thing we have. That’s why I followed it here. The power of music and poetry gives all people the extra confidence to call what they’re doing Godlike. But none of them are as made for this as I am. We really are giving you back the earth and truth.

I am The Catalyst: what some people characterize as a messiah or whatever. It’s not an accident or even a miracle. I and a lot of other people worked our entire lives so that this could happen. Still, if magic or god exists, it’s in me in this moment: the beginning of utopia.

(((One More Light)))

In utopia & beyond I will obviously still be really smart and nice and cool but we can all be at this level. We can figure things out from here. We have phones with cameras & searches that can focus on any object, person, or idea we see and show how much people Like and Love it! Like means they dig it, Love means it inspires them and they are dedicated to it. That’s enough. That’s all that matters. Fuck money.

And fuck borders! In utopia, the billions of children whose flesh is rotting in prisons and on dirt floors will be given energy and resources and they’ll become brilliant millennials in no time and we will solve every problem in front of us 😀 Including but not limited to: death (past present & future), rape, time travel, cancer, AIDS, HIV, black holes, climate change, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, fat-shaming, animal slavery & cruelty, the death of bees, mass extinction, asteroid collision, the question of extraterrestrial life, and terraforming other planets.

This is what a free world looks like to me! I believe in you!

#nomoneynoborders

p.s. It’s not easy for me to write this to you. In some ways it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done~ Because I know the good that’s coming. But when I think about the past it makes my body stiffen and my teeth clench.

I have tried to come out like this before. In 2012, when my name changed, and in 2014 when I walked off that slave job thing. My consciousness awakened and I came out as a savior of humanity to my community, family, and friends. Many of them shunned me. So I worked harder!

I really love everybody and life and everything!! But money and borders have taken a toll on my emotions and my ability to relate to others. I have lowkey been an alcoholic and addicted to marijuana for the last two years. They were necessary and beneficial to me getting to this point. I kicked it with people, listened to music, and thought a lot. Got to process & feel some sense of progress and groundedness in participating in these rituals without the pressure taking a chronic toll on my body or relationships.

I want to be with you naturally, though. I need time to do yoga with you and cook and cook and cook and practice music and sprawl out and go swimming and make love and study science and admire Adventure Time and read about cool women and meet more women and men and anyone and animals and I want us to express ourselves about something then go build it together so I can relax even more and we can all be honest and go back to our families and make new families and be one big happy family 🙂

Love,

+

BLOG POST// whimper & bang: this is how linkin park saved my life

oml

I’m so sad. I was listening to the new Linkin Park songs and holy cow are they good. I wish the people around me knew how amazing Linkin Park are and the music they’re making is. I think it really is the sound of Heaven and angels in 2017.

I remember the first time I saw them on television: red hair, and the camerawork, and everyone was ASIAN and WHITE and BROWN and BLACK in some ways but in ways that were obviously ambiguous, and hip-hop, and I was 9 years old. Their anger, the melody, and rhythm, and thinking about my brother, and my family SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!!! SHUT UP. I mean I feel like I have this actual cherished memory of the first time I ever heard Linkin Park, laying down in the dark in my momma’s room, but then again it could just be a feeling. It’s a strong one~

Months later, I’m listening to their first album Hybrid Theory in my room. Track 8 plays,
I turn it up from my room and go into the living room to tell my family1 to turn the t.v. down and listen to it playing from my room because I have just heard the most amazing song.

Do you know how fucking big “In The End” is as a song? What do you think it’s about??
It’s freaking street poetry.

The melodies. The piano. The hard hitting beat, Chester’s vocals on top of Mike’s, the sensuality of it all, every texture is supple and unique and driving the emotional momentum of the song forward, its structure works like clockwork but quite honestly doesn’t sound like any other song that’s ever been made. Still.

It’s why people still sing it regularly. It’s a fascinating phenomenon not totally different from Kirk Drift~ People think they sing a popular song and reference it and hear it regularly because it sucks, not because it’s amazing. I am forced to pretend as if Linkin Park isn’t my favorite band, the greatest band even.

Now, maybe Linkin Park aren’t my favorite band. But they were my first, favorite band. My other favorite bands are, in order, The Mars Volta (high school) then Kanye West. For a while I said Boards of Canada too, for a while it felt like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With flashes of Beyoncé and fuck man like I don’t talk about ANYTHING as much as I talk about Drake. And fuck the new Gorillaz might have something to say about their legacy in my life, and of course Daft Punk. Hov. CUDI??* Björ-I just compared Linkin Park to all those artists. They are that good. And now I’m about to tell you how they’re ~magic:

Linkin Park Albums Ranked from Least Fav to Fav:

!Minutes to Midnight

m2m

The fact that Linkin Park and I grew out of themselves at the same time
was unfortunate for our relationship. It feels like the rest of the mainstream
grew too, I think more people started making fun of them in 2006 it became “they’re still making music?” Minutes to Midnight was only their THIRD or FOURTH album, but they became that shitty early 2000s band that somehow landed the theme for a bunch of those Transformers movies that literally everyone you know saw.

I made fun of EVERYBODY I knew who still expressed liking Linkin Park, not unlike the self-hating homophobia I also regularly engaged in.

Living Things

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Feels like a relatively shitty transition(al) album with some bangers.

The Hunting Party

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I listened to The Hunting Party the other day and it’s still really fun. It’s a rock album but it is like the most lush hard rock album I’ve ever heard. They launch into hook after hook and it feels soft as a pillow though it’s guitar-heavy catharsis music.  From the opening track to that one I fucking LOVE to the joint with the person from System of a Down, and the beat under that Rakim verse WOOF. It’s a fucking sick album but:

Meteora

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A souped up Hybrid Theory is a good thing.

Tie:

Reanimation
A Thousand Suns
Hybrid Theory

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That Reanimation is as satisfying as its originator Hybrid Theory is a development a few million of us got to Witness in the early 2000s. I remember playing Super Monkey Ball to it, I rented it a bunch that summer. I think it was July 2002. That game is fun as fuck and you can just sink hours into it and spend those hours listening to the most climactic,
transforming video game music you’ve ever heard. Also, you’re playing the game and doing this alone because you’re smarter than the rest of your family although their love for (black) art, reading, and futuristic tech compliments your own ascendance.

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Hybrid Theory is music for lonely people, the lonely child who loves rock,
art, and thinking about the emotions they are feeling. This person is likely brilliant, or at least their intellect benefits from their noncomformity and they badly need a solution to the forces around trying to hurt their feelings. Sometimes this someone is a soldier in “Afghanistan” blasting “Papercut.”

It brings us all together, tho. Hybrid Theory is diamond-selling. You know what else is diamond-selling? Stankonia. Thriller. That’s Hybrid Theory and it was all mine, the first album I ever bought. My brother likes to gloat that he TOLD ME about them first or something which contributes to The Angst because he is my primary antagonist of Hybrid Theory-Meteora era LP until I realize that Linkin Park flooded our whole world through the power of music distribution deals anyway so who cares!!

I got to sing a song where the chorus is “I wanna runaway, never say good bye.”
Fifteen years later, I would do just that.

ats

I heard A Thousand Suns  described as Linkin Park’s Kid A. I listened to some
of it when I still “Hated” Linkin Park (roughly the release of Minutes to Midnight,
when I began high school) and I “Hated” it, (until the impending release of The Hunting Party, as I exited the school system and prepared to exit the job system). One day I was ready for ATS and I was in love with it, yelling it, listening to all of the LP albums, thinking about my destiny, giving it my world, all of my pain, and getting back from it dazzling love and inspiration.

It’s that good.

1 This entire essay consists of me grieving for my family.
*Radiohead
~We’ve normalized all of our quirks into society. Laughter, listening to music-
and that means we take them for granted. But there’s no reason WHY we laugh
and listen to and make and produce music, not that we know of, they come from
beyond us~ the universe of our origin. And we just build shrines to worship them,
they entertain us, they keep us alive.
! I want to say that I’m writing this because of One More Light, which just came out. I haven’t been this excited about a Linkin Park album since Meteora, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for an album as I was for Meteora.
I feel like it might end up being my fav Linkin Park album since Hybrid Theory.

Linkin Park branching their sound out into the pop of the moment has allowed them to make a beautiful anthem with a young queen, it’s emotional and now, and so so so good. They have never ever made a song like this, even though “Heavy” has all the elements of their sound. I want this, to swaddle my current musical output in the paint of the zeitgeist.

The current pop moment is the best musical moment of all time. Even though it feels predictable, it holds the songwriting keys of every form of music that has ever existed: thanks to Kanye West, Madonna, & MIA the entire avant-garde sphere is available to pop music. That’s why they, the 2017 pop songs, are built around the sound of a DIY laptop producer from a 5 to 10 years ago/a poor person on the street. They use global rhythms, drum machines [related to poor young solitary black & brown drum programmers making hip-hop 30-50 years ago as a form of conscious and subconscious resistance against the white empire destroying and extorting their life from them through crack guns lies and etc] & distorted slowed down degraded sounds and empty space. This kind of pop song sounds style-normal to you now because, like, Justin Bieber is doing it but I know it’s not “normal” because I created it.

When my first ten albums came out (2008-2011) using the sounds described to you were the music lovers of the new generation.

We had the internet, had a love for culture and communication that drove us into the message boards, into the expanses of information you could get from talking to humans, unfiltered, all day everyday. We transformed culture from there: with memes, Ableton, in-jokes, the sharing of music & film. Now that the whole world is Tumblr and Twitter, the lurkers of the message boards and chatrooms in the early 2000s are forgotten, just as we forgot our forerunners in the 90s and 80s. But all of us were there, with a global agenda to erase the barriers from total free information. And we’re going to take this world and  finish its transformation into a technological paradise. One More Light is a missive from our camp, we are together, coming, now.

With all the skill and knowledge I’ve displayed to you thus far, recognize my mind for music and craft- the people who created this sound with me are the most able of our species of all time when it comes to synthesizing the experiences and energies of life’s existence into the next, most gratifying and honorific version.

Something that I think “local artists” never get, and perhaps might be one of the things that separates them from a mainstream artist, is a sense of heightened scale. Something about “great artists” pushes their compositions to swell and throb in a heightened reality. Their spiritual frequency is just brighter, and “Invisible” is on the highest frequency. It’s an aggressive chillwave song, it sounds like 2000s Washed Out, but again, with absolute drama and conviction and purpose not a hypnotic aimlessness. It lives, it rules, it thrives, it dies. It lives again. It’s me, all of us, hurtling through time.

Music, I think, can be seen as a superpower given to us by the universe. It pushes our culture forward, it organizes us, it drives to singing and dancing together, to move our bodies, and it’s our only tool against Evil: money & borders. I think it, along with certain other creative forms outside of normal logical processing (aka art) is divine magic.

Think about this: Linkin Park write every album, they have to be writing from their own personal experience even though they’re obviously producing symbols for a global, pancultural audience. That means they are doing the most massive kind of transfiguration of matter possible, from their  own personal experience to this music and that then lives in the whole of human existence and consciousness changing our universe around as we decide what the fuck we’re going to do with the physical reality under our feet and inside our molecules. One More Light knows this could be the end of life, the greatest and most recent gift the universe ever gave. This is the culmination of the everything, the anthem of humanity. Our last rallying cry, and they know it. They, as lifeforms, know their position of influence as the music comes out. Who could possibly be more in tune with their actual, universe-given purpose than a musician? These musicians? They are our shapeople, our gods.

I told my family I was God and they didn’t understand.

But with power of Linkin Park, we’re going to save our lives.