Currently reading Check The Technique, Brian Coleman’s excellent, and extended, ode to liner notes and hip hop’s classic albums. It’s also one of those hip hop books full of fascinating human stories. One of the albums covered is Marley Marl’s In Control, the producer’s 1988 debut as mastermind of the Juice Crew.
In the book Marl notes that he was one of the first producers in hip hop to step up as an artist with such an album. And as I’m telling the story of how this idea of the producer as an artist evolved in the past decade or so, it made me laugh that I hadn’t even thought about album’s like Marl’s originally. 1988 was also the official release year for 45 King’s King of the Beats album, another first (or almost first) in which a producer album featured no rapping per se.
Ultimately the story I’m trying to tell starts in the 80s. I don’t think I’ll spend much time dwelling on those particular times in the book, not least because hip hop in the 80s and 90s has now been documented fairly extensively and there isn’t much left to say. However there’s no doubt that some key moments of hip hop’s growth in its first and second decade will be present in the story I’m telling – not just the East Coast movements of people like Mark and 45 King but also the whole electro scene, and the importance that particular sound had in places like Los Angeles in setting the ground for what would come next.
And there are still the 90s stories I’ve been accumulating for the book which I haven’t seen told anywhere yet.