Oliver Wang was in a bookstore one day when he realized that there were books galore on jazz, blues, rock, and all other things musical, but nothing on hip-hop. At least nothing that wasn’t a slang dictionary or just a bunch of artist profiles. Why hadn’t any publisher taken hip-hop seriously? Here was arguably the single most important genre of music since the 1980s, but no one had given respect where respect was due. So Wang, whose interest in music runs deep — he is a longtime music journalist, KALX DJ, and Cal Ph.D candidate in ethnic studies writing a dissertation on Filipino-American DJs — set out to change that. The result is Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide, a smart collection of forty essays covering some sixty landmark albums. You’ll find so much more than reviews here. The writers cover the whole scope of the genre’s history and its impact on culture, and even political issues. Editor Wang, who has penned stories for Vibe, The Source, XXL, URB, and The Village Voice, is an articulate guy in person and it shows in his own writing.