Collison Course, by Jay-Z and Linkin Park


Released November 30, 2004

21 min, 15 sec

This is a weird one.

Produced as part of a collaboration between Linkin Park and Jay-Z sponsored (and instigated) by MTV’s TV series Mash Ups, Collision Course began as two tracks for the show itself. Jay-Z chose who he wanted to work with for the show, and got in contact with Mike Shinoda in order to collaborate with Linkin Park. Though the show wanted them to figure out a way to smash their songs together as easily as possible for the purpose of a live show, both Shinoda and Jay-Z decided that it would be more enjoyable to re-record and more heavily edit parts of each of the songs they chose in order to make the resulting mash-ups work just as well as songs in their own right, as opposed to simply being products of mash-ups.

In a four-day recording and mixing session, Shinoda called in the rest of Linkin Park to re-record parts of their songs, with Shinoda re-recording his own vocal lines as well. Jay-Z was present for most of the process, which also included re-cutting some of his verses over the new instrumentals. All four days were documented for the show and for an eventual release of the final product, consisting of six mash-ups made from 13 songs (six Jay-Z songs and seven Linkin Park songs). Thus, Collision Course became a two-disc album – the CD containing the six mash-up tracks, and a DVD containing a documentary chronicling the studio work, as well as a full video of the live show that kicked the entire collaboration off.

The mash-ups, as one might expect, are done well, and the songs are interesting in their own right. It’s easy to tell that Shinoda and vocalist Chester Bennington did a lot of re-recording for the songs, and a lot of studio chatter and quipping is included between the tracks, conveying a feeling of looseness and light-heartedness that can easily be seen in the documentary. Jay-Z’s (at the time) final studio album The Black Album is most represented here, and the release of its a cappella tracks and instrumentals provided the basis for why Jay-Z was brought in for this sort of collaboration; however, the group used several tracks from Jay’s back catalogue as the project expanded, in order to make the mash-ups work better.

By far the most successful track was “Numb/Encore,” combining a track seen as Jay-Z’s swan song with one of Linkin Park’s most successful singles at that point, and the mash-up received a wide amount of radio play as a result. Like several of the other remixes, Jay-Z’s half starts off the song, over a manipulation of “Numb”’s instrumental, before giving way to a modified version of “Numb” to close the track out, with select Jay-Z lines and expressions mixed in towards the end. Musically, however, “Izzo/In the End” provides the most interesting mash-up, where the entirety of “In the End” is musically replaced by the beat of “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” with Shinoda and Bennington completely re-recording their lines to fit the vastly different music underneath. Unfortunately, since the song fades out, it didn’t translate very well to the live show, ending abruptly with an a cappella chorus.

The live performance has an interesting backstory to it; the main set (of the Collision Course tracks) had to be played twice, as the video equipment failed to capture any of the initial performance, which included Linkin Park playing several of their own songs prior to the Collison Course set (as tickets to the show had been given out through their fan club service). Instead of playing the entire show over again, the band took the stage to play Collision Course again, with Jay-Z emerging just before his verse in “Dirt Off Your Shoulders/Lying from You,” joining them for the rest of the set. It’s a good, energetic show, to be expected from a band that has always had strong live performances and an artist whose reputation is legendary.

Collision Course was the beginning of a lasting professional relationship between Jay-Z and Linkin Park – Jay-Z is credited as the executive producer for Shinoda’s 2005 side album The Rising Tied (written and performed under the name Fort Minor), and Jay-Z has performed “Numb/Encore” himself several times since the collaboration. Additionally, the group reunited to play most of Collision Course several times, including twice in 2005: once for the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia (the audio of which was released on Linkin Park’s fifth fan club album, later that year) and once for Linkin Park’s own Music for Relief benefit concert, where Collision Course was performed in its entirety for only the third (and final) time. Next, in 2006, the group performed “Numb/Encore” at the 2006 Grammys, and were unexpectedly joined by Paul McCartney, with the Beatles song “Yesterday” taking the place of “Numb” in the new collaboration. Finally, in 2008, for the European branch of the 2008 Projekt Revolution tour, Jay-Z joined Linkin Park during the latter’s encore set, perfoming “Numb/Encore” and “Jigga What/Faint,” being the final performances to date of these tracks.

Collision Course is perhaps more notable for what it resulted in than for its own music, but it remains an interesting, enjoyable album for both parties. And it resulted in Paul McCartney performing alongside Linkin Park. That’s a ridiculous thought, isn’t it? But it happened, and it happened because of Collision Course. You’re welcome.


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