After the huge success of his book, Check the Technique (Villard / Random House), Brian Coleman follows up with his newest release, Check the Technique Volume 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies (Wax Facts Press). RawRoots.com with music journalist his about the book and the current generation of hip hop.
Were you surprised by the success of the first volume of the book?
I was pleasantly surprised, definitely. These books are basically just me wanting to know more about my favorite albums, as a fan, and sharing that information with fellow fans. I always knew there were lots of people like me out there, it’s all about letting people know that the books exist. And so I thank you for the opportunity!
What do you feel Check The Technique Volume 2 adds on to the last book?
Well, 25 more chapters for starters! I think the main difference from Volume 1 to Volume 2 is that many of the chapters are a lot longer this time around, because I was able to dive deeper with my interviewees and because they were very generous with their time. I would point to chapters like ED O.G & Da Bulldogs, Ice Cube, Stetsasonic, Company Flow and Mos Def and Talib Kweli in that regard. Also there are 350 images in the book this time, which is a vast expansion of the visual aspect. All in all, it’s by far my best volume yet. Plus it looks great, thanks to my designer James Blackwell, and it’s on thick paper stock.
Is this a book purely for the hip hop heads?
Not necessarily hardcore heads only, but generally if you listen to Drake and think he’s talented, then you probably won’t find much here. Although you SHOULD! I think it’s for moderate-to-hardcore fans of hip-hop music, you have to have some understanding of the music to really want to drop the cash. But keep in mind, some of these albums sold multi-millions of copies, so it’s not like it’s all for people who bought Diamond D on the first day it hit in 1992. I know a lot of rock people who like the books as well.
Good question. I can definitely say that I do meet a good number of younger people (in their teens and 20s) who do study the origins of hip-hop culture and who do so very enthusiastically. But I think they’re a small percentage of the population. I think that the number of people who really dive deeply into the music they listen to is always going to be small compared to the general population. There are some people who get to Public Enemy through Flavor’s reality shows from a couple years back or because “Fight The Power” is a danceable song with attitude and a cool video. Not because they know the inner workings of the Bomb Squad or too much else about the group. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to enjoy the music.
What would you like readers to take in/learn from both Volume 1 and 2?
I hope people love their favorite albums even more after knowing more about their back-stories, and I hope that people who maybe know half of the albums in the book read about the other half and discover new artists to listen to, even if those artists put out music in the 1990’s.
If you were to write a similar book based on newer artists (say over the past 5-10 years_, who would you zone in on and why?
I don’t really get into those types of discussions, to be honest. I don’t write books about newer artists, and it takes time to really see what holds up as a “Classic.”
Do you feel that any of the 5 elements of hip hop have been lost / forgotten?
Nope! I meet people every day who live and breathe hip-hop. Just because people don’t see it on TV all the time or find it covered by mainstream media, definitely doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Why should readers buy a copy of Check The Technique Vol.2?
Hopefully because they love these artists and albums and want to know more about how their classics were created. I’m a decent writer, but I’m really more of a tour-guide. I stay out of the way and let the artists speak, because they are who people need to hear from and about!!!!
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