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An Unappreciated Classic
on November 28, 2005
Step In The Arena was good, but it was also one of those albums in which I thought they could still be better. Gang Starr did just that with one of the dopest Hip Hop albums ever and their best album. Gang Starr is a well renown and influential group, but for some reason, I feel this album is still more unappreciated than it should be.
One of the reasons this album is a classic is because it has a variety of subjects. On The Place Where We Dwell, Guru gives an ode to Brooklyn and lets you know why it could be good to visit. Ex Girl To Next Girl is about Guru's relationships with women, but unfortunately, it doesn't work out with none of em. Soliliquy Of Chaos is a very unique song and could be Guru's most thoughtful song ever. He tells us a story about imminently doing a concert, but he sees someone get shot during a fight. After he drops that line, he shows us why it makes him angry because it's so stupid. Personally, I think everyone should hear this track.
Take It Personal is a dark-feeling track with Guru talking about someone who backstabbed him, a wack rapper, and a friend who thinks Guru forgot him because of success. He drops 3 verses for each and strictly talks about that person alone. No Shame In My Game is one of the best tracks one album. Guru talks about people who criticize him for being himself and problems in his environment.
"But what the hell's success if the mess ain't changing/ 5-0's still corrupt stupid gangs still bangin'/ Stick up kids still stickin' nasty hookers still trickin'/ all the pimps still pimpin' and all the crackheads trippin'/ While the dealers still sellin' so I'll refrain from the yellin'/ And the preachin' cuz who the fu[k would I reach man." The second verse is arguably his most heartfelt verse ever.
Conspiracy is another deep track about how the government wants to destroy blacks.
"You've got to understand that this has all been conspired/ to put a strain on our brains so that the strong grow tired/ It even exists when you go to your church/ cuz up on the wall a white Jesus lurks."
Stay Tuned also has some of the most conscious lyrics I've heard and ends the album perfectly.
"Many fall into the vicious cycle/ living by the gun or by the rifle/ They think they got a reason that ain't really sure/ the death toll rises more."
The album also has the lyrics in the insert which makes up for any flaw you can detect. About every song is about something different. But, you also have the beats. DJ Premier did a excellent job on Step In The Arena, here he did an OUTSTANDING job. Take It Personal, Take Two And Pass, and the first verse's beat on I'm The Man (the track has three beats for each verse) are strictly imperial beats. Even the skits are dope instrumentals (24-7-365 might break ya speakers). Another thing about DJ Premier is the way he makes use of samples. The way he makes use of samples almost excels the beats he makes. Every sample he uses fits every track perfectly. On Take Two And Pass, he uses a sample that says, "I think, write a rhyme, when I'm done get blunted". The album doesn't exactly have filler, but about 3 songs that are just decent. The best track on this album is difficult to find, but I think The Illest Brother deserves that title. The track is about respect, and things that happen in the ghetto. The beat might take awhile to get into, but Guru's lyrics make it all worthwhile. I'm The Man also has the debut of Lil Dap (from Group Home) and Jeru The Damaja (who does a classic verse) which are the only guest on the entire album. Those who loved Step In The Arena shouldn't worry because Gang Starr elevated their sound lyrically and production wise. Guru proved to be one of the best and most thoughtful lyricists and Premier proved to be one of the best producers/DJs with this masterpiece.