Subtitled Hip-Hop Wax Facts, Straight From the Original Artists-The '80s, this book spends its time examining 21 hip-hop albums from the mostly mid-to-late '80s-talking with the artists about how the albums came to be. There's some cool-as-shit info, like Schooly D putting too much reverb on "P. S. K." because he was stoned, or Prince Paul producing De La Soul. In general, the chapters focus a fair amount on the artists and their careers, but there are details I'd never heard before about making some of the albums (e.g., learning to use samplers, staying up all night figuring how to program an 808 or 909, making "pause tapes" of beats, and such). Occasionally, hearing firsthand about recording sessions where the old school engineers meet the young hip-hop talent is hilarious. Check out Schooly D's story of laying down a drumbeat, scratching, and a vocal on three tracks of a 24-track deck and Joe Nicolo asking, "Aren't you going to put anything else on there?" There's more to read with Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Run-DMC and others. A cool glimpse into a world of record making that certainly deserves more research. [Plus, Brian Coleman is one of my all-time favorite radio DJs. -AH] ($17.98; www.waxfacts.com)
Accessories, Tools, Wiring | No. 52
by Andy Hong
Fellow gear reviewer Eric Tischler sent me this helpful tool. It's a key fob with a 1/4'' plug and four LED's, one for power and three for -32, -22, and -16 dBu signal level. You plug it into a jack,...