Today in Hip Hop History: January 15, 1991
Happy 25th anniversary to one of the elemental albums in the Golden Age of hip hop: Step In the Arena.
The superlative hip hop duo Gang Starr, comprised of hip hop legends DJ Premier and Guru, released their second studio album, Step In the Arena, through Chrysalis and EMI Records in 1991. Following up their debut album, No More Mr. Nice Guy, the duo majorly pushed to slower, more socio-political rhymes in favor of braggadocios. Both Premo and Guru produced and rapped the entire album, respectively, making Step In the Arena a fundamental Gang Starr project in its purest form.
Interestingly enough, the album contained several tracks that featured on video games: “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight (Remix)” on Grand Theft Auto IV, “Just To Get a Rep” on Thrasher: Skate and Destroy, and “Step In the Arena” in both Skate 2 and Skate It.
Step In the Arena remains one of the many reasons why Gang Starr is one of, if not the, best hip hop duos of all time. In the prime time of jazz hip hop and boom bap, they dropped one of the most classic albums of its time. The two musical geniuses were able to craft full and complete albums, conceptual or not, that can be played front to back time and time again.
Rest in Peace Guru.