By Neil Drumming
June 08, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Check the Technique

B+

Rappers are not the easiest people to pin down. So Brian Coleman gets props for the exhaustive effort it took to interview the writers and producers of three dozen seminal hip-hop albums for Check the Technique. He doesn’t merely compile fresh liner notes and anecdotes from stars like Q-Tip, Chuck D, and Too $hort. He captures hip-hop’s spirit from the ’80s to the mid-’90s, when inner-city kids discovered music through samples crammed into SP-1200 drum machines, learned the biz from shady contracts, and built their personae from their stage names up. Most admirably, Coleman sits back and lets these born storytellers talk. B+

Check the Technique

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