I just found out that Chester Bennington from Linkin Park has died and I am legitimately sad. In the world today it’s so easy to get desensitized to celebrity deaths especially if you weren’t that attached to the person but for me….. This one actually hurts a little bit.
A little background on me. I am a young, black man who grew up in the hood. Being young and black meant that you needed to act/portray yourself the same way that the others are acting unless you want to get made fun of, here is where I come in.
- I was wasn’t like the other black kids in my school. I always showed up early and didn’t operate on “CP time”.
- I dressed in regular clothing because my parents couldn’t afford that expensive gaudy shit that other kids were wearing.
- I didn’t have a “hood” demeanor, I was genuinely nice to people and tried to smile a lot.
- But most importantly, I didn’t listen to a lot of rap music.
There were some other reasons but those were the ones that stood out for me. And this is how a lot of kids felt. (A lot of black kids can relate to this and I believe a lot of non-white non black kids can relate to this also.)
The music aspect is probably the most important one because I felt that music kind of defined me. I listened to more Rock than Rap. My parents didn’t believe in confining me to a certain role and allowed me to explore my musical tastes. I didn’t live according to other’s expectations of how I should behave. This, of course, made me an outcast in all my school years.
You can’t be Black and weird… you just can’t unless you want to be labeled an “Oreo”. It also didn’t help that I was kind of chubby so…. Double Stuffed Oreo? This was my life. I was “White” because I didn’t act all ghetto and shit. Because I didn’t act like how society and the media expected a young, Black man to act. I got bullied and took a lot of shit just for being different. I felt so alone like no one could ever understand me. Why did I have to be so different? Why did I have to stand out so much? I didn’t value myself, that’s when I started starving myself. I wanted to give people fewer reasons to pick on me. It was a pretty bad time for me, I was probably heading towards something worse. Fortunately, this is also where I got introduced to Linkin Park.
Their first single was “One Step Closer” and that was a good angry type of song, but I didn’t really resonate with it. It wasn’t until “In The End” came out that people really started paying them attention, it was a Rock song that had dudes rapping on it. It was a song that was okay for everyone to listen to. I LOVED that song when it came out, loved it so much in fact that I bought one of their albums to hear what their other music was like. My very first LP album was in fact NOT Hybrid Theory, but Reanimation which was heavy on the remixing and rapping. I loved that album even though it felt like I was the only one besides my best friends that like it. It wasn’t “Metal” enough for Rock fans so they mostly ignored it. I appreciated them being creative with their music.
I believe it wasn’t until their second album “Meteora” that I felt a deep connection to the band and especially the members Chester B. and Mike Shinoda. The whole album deals with Depression, remorse, and mental illness. I think this is what connected me to them. It was around this time that I also read up on the band members especially frontman Chester. I read about his history of being sexually abused as a child and the drugs and the alcohol, he just had a really chaotic life. And all of this blit through into his music because you felt every word that came out of his mouth. You can tell that this man had pain and that he was sharing his pain with all of us but we couldn’t do anything to help him. Everything that he was talking about I felt it. This album got me through so much in life. When I would have a really shitty day at school, when people just wouldn’t stop fucking with me and my great slept and I just felt bad about existing, I would just put on this album and Hybrid Theory and suddenly not feel so alone anymore. It didn’t help that I did not know how to properly communicate what I was feeling and I felt like no one would really listen. Your mother can only be there for you so much, eventually you need to have friends who understands your struggles.
The last album of theirs that I really got into was Minutes to Midnight. I remember when I first got that out of them I listen to it so much that I convinced myself that this was just the best. Now don’t get me wrong it is a good album but this was the album that was more socially conscious than the ones before it. But that doesn’t mean that it did not have its own emotional singles. The song “Leave Out All the Rest” is probably my favorite on that album because it focused on a familiar feeling that I often ignored, embracing death. You can interpret this song A few different ways but I just now listen to it again after a while and I honestly believe that this was about suicide. The song basically says “there is going to come a time where I am not going to be here anymore, when that happens please do me a favor and remember all the good things about me. I know I fucked up and I messed up and I can never take back all the hurt that I’ve caused but keep the best version of me alive in your memory and Leave Out All the Rest”. As I’m writing this I’m starting to get choked up because it’s probably the closest to a suicide letter that we have from him at this exact moment. Anything can change and the next couple of days when they could discover something a last note or will but right now I think that this song was his suicide note that he wrote years before he actually took his life.
I hate to say it but I have not been keeping up with Lincoln Park for the past few years. I know they release I believe to more albums sense minutes to midnight but I’ve kind of lost interest in it. I’m not the same person as I was 15 years ago because that person needed this music to make it through the day but who I am right now does not. I’ve changed from a small, week, emotionally unstable teenager to a strong, confident, emotionally unstable adult. I will always keep their first few albums with me and who knows I might just go back and listen to their previous albums. I know that leak in Park was planning a tour and Chester was supposed to be a part of that to her so I would like to think that he did not plan this to happen, he probably just had a bad experience or one really fucked up that day that finally passed him over the edge. I’m glad that we’re in the age where we can talk about depression and Men to illness because I don’t think a lot of people understand how badly that shit effects people. I am myself still suffer from it from time to time even though I’m not as bad as I was I’m still fighting it everyday. Some days are the worst where I just want to not exist, it gets that bad. Now because of this I have to keep living and I have to keep going forward.
I’m sad because now I’ll never get the chance to meet him or see him in person or at the very least see him and a concert. I can never tell him how much is music has helped me in the my life and that hurts. I don’t get choked up over celebrity death because I am so detached from so many things because I have too much going on in life but this is something that does affect me because without this music I don’t know if I would even be here.
I don’t want to dwell on this too much longer because overall I’m happy that he existed and that he found success in his life and that he made art that affected so many different people in a positive way.
People will remember him, people will mourn him. It will be people from all over the globe and that is more than what most of us will get.
I am happy that he was alive, I’m happy that he existed, I am happy that I listen two Hybrid Theory and Meteora and fought my way through depression.
He will never know how he changed my life or how he saved it.
He will never know how his words and his voice made a young scared weird black kid who got bullied a lot feel like he was somebody, like he was worth something.
My thoughts are with his family and especially his kids.
Rest in Paradise Chester Bennington,
I hope you found the peace you were seeking because you will be dearly missed.