On the other side of the spectrum is this fancy hardcover ("coffee table") book. Mostly photos and little text, it depicts 27 current-day hip-hop creators in their personal studios. Shelves full of vinyl, turntables, old and new samplers, various instruments, and headphones dominate these classy shots. Among the studios we visit are places where Dan the Automator, Chief Xcel, DJ Shadow, Mario C, Cut Chemist, KutMasta Kurt, Madlib, and DJ Premier work their magic. It's fantastic to get a glimpse into the environments in which these guys work, how they decorate (or don't), and how they lay out their workflow. If that ain't enough to make you want to see this book, a bunch of the featured folks appear on an exclusive mix CD by DJ Ransom, but one of the coolest things here is a shot of Fat Jack's duct-taped Alesis monitor. Oh yeah. ($29.95; www.crookneck.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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