The band’s mixture of rap and rock was approached with some skepticism from their label, Warner Bros. Records, and their producer, Don Gilmore. Yet as soon as “One Step Closer,” Hybrid Theory's blistering lead single, became a top 10 hit at U.S. alt-rock radio, those doubts were quickly alleviated.
“When I grew up, you were either a rock kid or a rap kid, but you didn’t listen to blended music, really,” Shinoda recalls. “I was so excited when Rage Against The Machine came out, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, or when I found Led Zeppelin by listening to Beastie Boys. There were things that were out there that took from varying styles of music and put them together, but they were not the norm at all. And to have played a role in mashing styles together, that is, for us, part of our legacy that we’re proud of.”
Indeed, Hybrid Theory remains a touchstone of the time period: the album has sold a whopping 10.8 million copies to date, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, and produced singles that have remained alternative radio staples for decades. “In The End,” the brilliantly rendered signature anthem that mixes rap verses and a melodic hard rock chorus, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while “Crawling” earned Linkin Park its first Grammy award. The album would kick-start a career that produced seven total albums, 28.8 million total copies sold, and countless arena performances, until the tragic passing of Bennington in 2017.
Now, the band is looking back on its landmark debut with Hybrid Theory: 20th Anniversary Edition, a new collection featuring previously unreleased demos, B-sides, rarities, DVDs and the long-sought-after fan favorite track from the time period, “She Couldn’t,” among many other things. The multiple configurations of the boxed set -- including a Super Deluxe Edition with 5 CDs, 3 LPs and 3 DVDs -- will be released on Friday (Oct. 9); in addition, Sirius XM has launched a limited-run music channel “Linkin Park Radio” on Oct. 5 to commemorate the anniversary.
“It’s a nice time to pause and think and focus on what it took to make that record, the impact it had, and the opportunity it allowed us to continue with our careers,” Hahn tells Billboard. “For me, it’s a testament to the camaraderie between all the guys in the band, to our friendship, to our work ethic, to the values in how we approached not just making music, but the business of making music, and the way we interact with our fans.”
In separate interviews, Shinoda and Hahn shared their memories of all 12 songs on the standard edition of Hybrid Theory, from the biggest hits that the album spawned to the deep cuts that hold a special place in their hearts. Check out their track-by-track remembrance of Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory below.