Holding it down

Fort Minor

The Rising Tied

Warner Bros. Records, Inc.

Three out of five stars

Within the first minutes of Fort Minor’s The Rising Tied, it becomes obvious: Mike Shinado was the better half of Linkin Park.

Make no mistake about it, Shinado’s album-under the moniker Fort Minor-is a solo project and an epitome at that: Shinado seems to have his hand in everything on the album except the shrink-wrapping. He produced every beat, played every instrument, wrote every rhyme and even crafted the illustration for the cover.

The result is a full-blown hip-hop effort in which Shinado plays both emcee and producer-and does a surprisingly solid job.

His rhymes are highly personal and refreshingly imaginative. In “Kenji,” he retells touching family history, and in “Cigarettes,” the tobacco industry becomes an analogy for hip-hop.

The beats on Rising Tied are fresh hip-hop bangers full of diverse instrumentation. And when hip-hop notables Common, John Legend and Black Thought appear on the album, Rising Tied seems to have it all-even Jay-Z as executive producer.

Unfortunately, somewhere during the second half, the album becomes redundant. Shinado’s personal rhymes seem like over-sharing, and his creative efforts are dulled.

Whether you love them or hate them, forget what you know about Linkin Park-Fort Minor’s is a far-removed sound worth checking out.

Marshal Hogan