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Linkin Park: Not Some Korean Kid's Name

By Bobby Kim | KoreAm Journal
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In the attention-deficit-disorder world of mainstream music, the average listener plays a finicky musical nomad, unremittingly traversing from one soundscape to the next. Right now, it's nu-metal rockers and black soul songstresses; the previous year it was pop divas and Euro Radiohead wannabes. Rap-rock is sooo 1999, but don't tell that to this year's Grammy winners for Best Hard Rock Performance, Linkin Park, and the first KA to ever win the coveted music award, Joseph Hahn.

Called "Mr. Hahn" by his friends, the former Art Center College of Design student from Glendale, Calif., is not only DJ and vocalist for Linkin Park, but the behind-the-scenes impresario, producing and co-directing the band's videos.

Born in an era of red-baseball-capped rappers, heavy guitars and conspicuously out-of-place DJs, Linkin Park quietly entered the pop fray in 2000 with their debut album, "Hybrid Theory," and single, "One Step Closer." Initially, radio and MTV were cautious, probably fearful of investing in just another rap-metal-core-rock-what-have-you band that angry adolescents were buying into like Microsoft shares. Little did it matter, for in a measly year-and-a-half, Linkin Park has spent over 70 weeks on the Billboard charts (most of it in the top 10), and "Hybrid Theory" has gone septuple-platinum, making them the biggest-selling band of the new millennium.

And they did it without being grossly marketed as dreamy poster boys - and by playing music far from anything deemed brilliant. To the ears of most music critics, Linkin Park's work is like playing board games on a rainy day: fun at the time, but overall, making the best of a bad situation and pretty forgettable. Still, the Southern California six-pack are delivering the palatable-to-the-masses noise consumers want - all the way to the bank.

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