Tuesday, 16 October 2012

BOOK: Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies, Brian Coleman (7/10)

Why did I read it?
As more than a casual fan of hip-hop, especially of hip-hop from days gone by, this book was essential reading once I stumbled across it.

What's it all about?
Brian Coleman interviewed the artists responsible for some of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time. He presents the interviews as each artist discusses the creation of their work from the birth of the act through to the recording of the particular album. The list includes the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, De La Soul, The Beastie Boys and Too $hort. Coleman then presents a track by track breakdown of each particular album giving the artists the opportunity to explain the inspiration behind each track.  

Should you read it?
This book is not for casual readers, only interested music fans will enjoy the detailed descriptions of the recording processes and instruments used in producing these 'immortal rap albums'. I highlight this quote as every reader will have an opinion on the albums selected and I have to admit my interest waned during the chapters for artists I had very limited or no knowledge of. I understand that Coleman completed fifty interviews yet only thirty-six were included and I think the book would have been benefited from being a more definitive collection with these included. The albums selected predominantly range from the late 80s to the early 90s with a few exceptions. Again some would argue that this is the 'golden era' of hip-hop but there are many great albums from outside of that period, in particular from the West Coast.

Grumbles over the selection aside, the book gives a fascinating first hand insight into the creative side of these artists and their recording processes. What is interesting is how diverse the production of each album was at the time. The development of each album was unique from the recording of demos and earning of record deals through to the production and sampling processes used by the various artists and producers.

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