Check the Technique

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Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies
AuthorBrian Coleman
Cover artistDreu Pennington-McNeil
CountryUnited States
SubjectHip hop music
PublisherVillard/Random House
Publication date
Pages528 pp
782.42164909 22
LC ClassML3531 .C65 2007

Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies is a book by music journalist Brian Coleman that covers the making of 36 classic hip hop albums, based on interviews with the artists who created them, also providing a track-by-track breakdown for each album entirely in the words of the artists.[1][2] It was published by Villard/Random House in 2007.

It is an expanded and updated version of the book Rakim Told Me,[3] also by Brian Coleman, and it features a foreword by Questlove of the Roots.[2]


The book received positive reviews from numerous press outlets,[4] such as Entertainment Weekly,[5] AllHipHop,[6] ALARM Magazine,[7] and The Onion/The A.V. Club.[3]

Some criticisms of the book are that it is missing certain classic albums, is missing some tracks from some albums, that it has very few female artists covered,[7] and "little attention is given to the outlining societal conditions."[8]

Brian Coleman explained in interviews that he didn't intentionally leave any album out of the book, but there were difficulties in arranging interviews with certain artists.[9][10] He also commented he wanted to focus on hip hop artists and what they had to say, rather than on academic subjects surrounding hip hop: "I don't really wanna read what critics have to say about the stuff. I wanna read what the artist has to say.”[10] He added,

I've never really been interested as much in the sociological, sociopolitical, academic view of hip hop and where it exists in popular culture. I think the artists are sick of that. I like the music and I want to know about it. That is why, I think, [in these interviews] they kind of really settle into the groove and really start getting into it. Like Erick Sermon—when I was talking to him, [it was] like he was talking about somebody else. I mean, how many people ask Too Short about how he records instead of asking about the more sensational parts of his personality? My goal was to get to the core of it. I think it proves that not enough people have really talked to these artists. To actually give them the respect they deserve as musicians, I think they appreciate that. They certainly open up accordingly.[11]

This approach has been praised by critics—URB commented on his "mercifully non-academic approach”,[12] and ALARM Magazine said,

The best part about Coleman taking on the job is that he does it so well… where others might want to intellectualize the stories of an urban artist's rise from obscurity to legendary status, in Coleman's hands these tales are anything but academic.[7]


Check the Technique Vol. 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies was published in 2014.


  1. ^ "Check the Technique by Brian Coleman - Book - eBook". Random House. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  2. ^ a b "Wax Facts Press :: About the Book". 2007-06-12. Archived from the original on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  3. ^ a b Matos, Michaelangelo (2007-07-06). "Brian Coleman: Check The Technique | Books | Book Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  4. ^ "Wax Facts Press :: About the Book". Archived from the original on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  5. ^ Neil Drumming (2007-06-08). "Check the Technique Review | Book Reviews and News". Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  6. ^ Sidik Fofana (2007-07-03). "Check The Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies". Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  7. ^ a b c [1] Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Sam Chennault (2007-06-27). "His Writing Technique is Unstoppable - Page 1 - Music - San Francisco". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  9. ^ "World's Best Source For That Ol' Boom Bap". Archived from the original on 2007-11-03.
  10. ^ a b Sidik Fofana (2007-07-17). "Brian Coleman: Liner By Liner". Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  11. ^ Michaelangelo Matos (2005-07-27). "Brian Coleman - Page 1 - Music - Seattle". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  12. ^ "Wax Facts Press :: About the Book". Archived from the original on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2012-01-08.


  • Coleman, Brian (2007). Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard/Random House, ISBN 978-0812977752.

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