A side effect of my rekindled love affair with Linkin Park has been listening to Mike Shinoda's side project from 2005, Fort Minor. I love everything about the album -- to me, it really shows how talented Mike is as an artist. And I'm not talking about just the sonic parts of the album. The album artwork is awesome as well, with Mike hand-drawing the cover and the images in the liner notes. Described as "Eminem on Ambien", the dude has more artistic ability in him than I ever will. He can play keyboard and design album covers. He can even design shoes. All I can do is strum my fingers on flat surfaces and draw stick figures. So what's with this apparent Shinoda love fest? Well, listening to The Rising Tied has made me long for Mike to bring back Fort Minor. It's underground hip-hop at its finest. So fine, in fact, that Mike even got Jay-Z to exec-produce the LP. I really respect a guy who "plays every note and writes every line". And I want more of it. Mike says FM is on hiatus due to him being busy with Linkin Park's new album, but I'm glad he still finds time to do the rap thing. Like when he produced this song in support of the victims of the Haitian earthquake. The guy's got a social conscience, too! But what really inspired me to write this post was the beats he did for the 2005 MTV VMAs. They're uploaded to his SoundCloud page. Here's hoping Fort Minor returns someday because the rap game (and my ears) are missing out on some great music.