February 11 is a pretty crazy crossroads day for birthdays, as it represents the changing of the biological calendar for the likes of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland and "Twilight" star Taylor Lautner. But for the purposes of the MTV Newsroom Blog, there's only one celebration we're having today, and it's for Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. The mutli-talented rapper, musician and producer is now 34 years old, so make sure his slice of cake has the frosting rose on it and that his Mylar balloons are well-inflated.
Shinoda first made an impact in the music world as the rapper on Linkin Park's nü-metal debut Hybrid Theory. But as the band's sound and world view evolved (which seemed to happen almost immediately after the group got big), so did Shinoda's approach to his role (and to music as a whole). As the vocal focus shifted more to co-frontman Chester Bennington's adenoidal wails, Shinoda got more involved in programming and production (he co-produced the group's 2010 album A Thousand Suns with Rick Rubin). And to satisfy his envelope-pushing hip-hop jones, he put together Fort Minor, a next-level side project that has so far only produced a single album (though that one release, 2005's The Rising Tied, is something of a modern classic).
In fact, Shinoda has picked up a reputation as a guy who works well with outside-the-box rappers, and his production style is quit sought after. In addition to helping craft the pretty amazing Collision Course EP with Jay-Z, he has also twiddled knobs for Lupe Fiasco, Styles of Beyond, Busta Rhymes and Cypress Hill. He's one of the most dynamic talents in both rock and hip-hop, and it appears as though he's only just getting warmed up. So crank up Linkin Park's "Waiting for the End" and shout Shinoda a happy birthday.