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Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkiesby Brian Coleman
Synopses & Reviews
ERIC B. & RAKIM
Paid in Full
(4th & Bway/Island, 1987)
I came in the door, I said it before/I never let the mic magnetize me no more.
When you hear those first lines, your whole body starts to shiver. You're instantly transported to New York, 1986. The verses are so ill that your mom could say them and they'd still move a crowd. And they don’t stop for the duration of Eric B. & Rakim’s unsinkable classic, Eric B. Is President. A song like that only comes along maybe twice a decade, and few of them stay with you like the duo's master tome. Eric B. and Rakim set off a lot of things in 1986-an onslaught of raids on the James Brown sampling archive; a rebirth of anti-party, pro-scientific lyricism; and a 500 percent rise in purchases of dinosaur-choking gold medallions from Bushwick to Bangkok.
Interestingly, William Griffin Jr.-the youngest of three Griffin brothers and better known to hip-hop as Rakim-didn't figure their booming single (first released on Zakia Records, B-sided with the also mind-blowing My Melody) would change hip-hop the way it did. I had no idea it would impact like that, but maybe that's because I’m my own worst critic,” Rakim Allah says, adding, I had already been rhyming for so long at that point that I wasn't looking to pursue a recording career. To be honest, at the time I was hoping to play football at Stony Brook University, in Long Island], since my cousin had a scholarship there. I played quarterback and had met with the coach there. He told me to get my grades up and we could talk. Luckily for hip-hop fans, fate turned Rakim away from the gridiron and
gave the duo a monster hit.
Although he had deep family roots in Brooklyn, William Jr. was born and raised in Long Island's Wyandanch, New York, and came up through an established hip-hop scene that wasn't as flashy as New York’s-though skills were most certainly required at the door. Wyandanch played a big influence in my life, he says. There was always block parties and DJs at the park. DJs like Pleasure, Nelson PR, DJ Motor, and DJ Maniac. These guys were around-like, back when I said in ‘Microphone Fiend' that I was too small to get on the mic. There were a lot of parties in the school gyms. We had a lot going on. He adds, talking about his New York experiences, I had lots of family in Brooklyn and cousins in Queens, so I used to go to their cribs and go to the park in Jamaica Queens]. I'd also make sure I always saw the Cold Crush Brothers. Grandmaster] Caz was a big influence on me. We’d go to DJ battles in New York all the time, like Mike & Dave Productions. I remember joining in on a rap convention back then, I think it was on 127th Street. Biz Markie was there, I remember that.
Aside from his cousins and local friends who introduced him to the hip-hop life, he also had an important musical influence in his family: his aunt, legendary R&B vocalist Ruth Brown. She used to keep her eye on me, babysit me, he says, also adding that he saw her perform on several occasions in his youth. Being in that environment, watching her do what she do, that kept me grounded once I got on for myself. Did the music legend approve of her nephew making hip-hop? Once she heard my first record she called me up to let me know how much she liked it,” he says. “She
An oral history of hip-hop music offers contributions by the artists who offer an anecdotal account of the creation of some of the genre's most important albums, as well as the people, events, and environment that inspired them, with essays by Ice-T, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Naughty By Nature, The Roots, Digable Planets, and others. Original. 25,000 first printing.
A Tribe Called Quest • Beastie Boys • De La Soul • Eric B. & Rakim • The Fugees • KRS-One • Pete Rock & CL Smooth • Public Enemy • The Roots • Run-DMC • Wu-Tang Clan • and twenty-five more hip-hop immortals
It’s a sad fact: hip-hop album liners have always been reduced to a list of producer and sample credits, a publicity photo or two, and some hastily composed shout-outs. That’s a damn shame, because few outside the game know about the true creative forces behind influential masterpieces like PE’s It Takes a Nation of Millions. . ., De La’s 3 Feet High and Rising, and Wu-Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). A longtime scribe for the hip-hop nation, Brian Coleman fills this void, and delivers a thrilling, knockout oral history of the albums that define this dynamic and iconoclastic art form.
The format: One chapter, one artist, one album, blow-by-blow and track-by-track, delivered straight from the original sources. Performers, producers, DJs, and b-boys–including Big Daddy Kane, Muggs and B-Real, Biz Markie, RZA, Ice-T, and Wyclef–step to the mic to talk about the influences, environment, equipment, samples, beats, beefs, and surprises that went into making each classic record. Studio craft and street smarts, sonic inspiration and skate ramps, triumph, tragedy, and take-out food–all played their part in creating these essential albums of the hip-hop canon.
Insightful, raucous, and addictive, Check the Technique transports you back to hip-hop’s golden age with the greatest artists of the ’80s and ’90s. This is the book that belongs on the stacks next to your wax.
“Brian Coleman’s writing is a lot like the albums he covers: direct, uproarious, and more than six-fifths genius.”
–Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
“All producers and hip-hop fans must read this book. It really shows how these albums were made and touches the music fiend in everyone.”
–DJ Evil Dee of Black Moon and Da Beatminerz
“A rarity in mainstream publishing: a truly essential rap history.”
–Ronin Ro, author of Have Gun Will Travel
Table of Contents
2 Live Crew : As nasty as they wanna be — Beastie Boys : Check your head — Big Daddy Kane : Love live the Kane — Biz Markie : Goin' off — Black Moon : Enta da stage — Boogie Down Productions : Criminal minded — Brand Nubian : One for all — Common (Sense) : Resurrection — Cypress Hill : Cypress Hill — Das Efx : Dead serious — De la Soul : 3 feet high and rising — Digable Planets : Reachin' (a new refutation of time and space) — Digital Underground : Sex packets — EPMD : Strictly business — Eric B & Rakim : Paid in full — Fugees : The score — Geto Boys : We can't be stopped — Ice-T : Power — Marley Marl : In control volume 1 — MC Lyte : Lyte as a rock — Mobb Deep : The infamous-- — M.O.P. : Firing squad — Onyx : Bacdafucup — Pete Rock & CL Smooth : Mecca and the soul brother — The Pharcyde : Bizarre ride II the Pharcyde — Poor Righteous Teachers : Holy intellect — Public Enemy : It takes a nation of millions to hold us back — Redman : Whut? thee album — The Roots : Do you want more?!!!??! — Run-DMC : Raising hell — Schoolly D : Saturday night! the album — Slick Rick : The great adventures of Slick Rick — Too $hort : Life is-- too $hort — A Tribe Called Quest : The low end theory — Wu-Tang Clan : Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 chambers) — X-Clan : to the east, blackwards.
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