IT'S CURIOUS that of all musical genres, hiphop is one of the few to reach global dominance, while still remaining largely undocumented within the world of publishing. The latest in the hiphop canon, Check the Technique, Volume 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies, comes from Boston-based author Brian Coleman. Anyone familiar with Coleman's first volume will know there are two things that set him apart from other hiphop historians: He lets the artists speak for themselves as he goes through classic albums track by track, and his books feature images on almost every page, including original handwritten lyrics and old promotional materials.
The ultimate pleasure in reading Check the Technique is in unearthing details that have never been revealed before, like learning that the duo 3rd Bass had a hit put on them by MC Hammer's brother through the Crips in Los Angeles—for dissing Hammer on their 1989 record, The Cactus Album. The hit was eventually quashed, but only after Crip leader Mike Concepcion was bribed with a seat next to Michael Jackson at the American Music Awards. With these details, Coleman also deconstructs shallow perceptions of golden era hiphop: He disproves the idea of a monolithic East Coast vs. West Coast beef, using stories of Ice Cube collaborating with Public Enemy's Bomb Squad, and Kool Keith coming together with Dan the Automator to create Dr. Octagon.
At Friday night's reading, Coleman will bring along promo-only copies of the Smif-N-Wessun "Home Sweet Home" seven-inch as a bonus for buying the book directly from him. As for what to expect, "It'll be a great chance for me to meet some new people and thank them for the support," says Coleman. "Honestly, doing talks and events is the best thing about doing these books for me, after all the ridiculously hard work of putting them together. So, events give me a chance to get in a room with other fans and talk about the music we love."