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Step in the Arena


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Audio CD, January 15, 1991
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$10.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Step in the Arena + Daily Operation + Hard to Earn
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Gang Starr's second album is quintessential hip-hop and is easily one of the greatest rap albums of all time. In contrast to their 1989 debut, No More Mr. Nice Guy, which was filled with seriously uptempo jams, Step in the Arena slows down the pace, unveiling low, slow, and deceptively complex tempos along with some jazz-tinged loops and beats, all of which firmly established DJ Premier's slot in the producer hall of fame. Furthermore, the slower sonic pace proved to be a perfect fit for Guru's distinctive monotone flow. The album hits on every aural level, from the lumbering bass and blaring horn combo of the title track to the swirling sax blurts, unnerving siren, and kinetic scratch attack of "Who's Gonna Take the Weight" to the laid-back smooth jazz soul of "Love Sick." Guru's verbal volley can only be described as smooth hardcore, with no-nonsense lyrics that effectively strike a balance between the street and the intellect. Toss in tracks like the anti-hoodlum anthem "Just to Get a Rep" and the scathing "Execution of a Chump (No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 2)," and you've got yourself a bona fide classic that sounds as fresh today as it did when it was first released. --Spence Abbott

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Name Tag (Premier & The Guru)0:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Step In The Arena [Explicit] 3:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Form Of Intellect 3:40$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Execution Of A Chump [Explicit] 2:41$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Who's Gonna Take The Weight? [Explicit] 3:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Beyond Comprehension 3:13$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Check The Technique [Explicit] 3:58$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Lovesick 3:27$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow 2:17$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. Game Plan 1:08$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. Take A Rest 4:21$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen12. What You Want This Time? 2:41$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen13. Street Ministry 1:25$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen14. Just To Get A Rep [Explicit] 2:42$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen15. Say Your Prayers 1:24$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen16. As I Read My S-A 3:02$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen17. Precisely The Right Rhymes 3:25$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen18. The Meaning Of The Name 2:55$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 15, 1991)
  • Original Release Date: January 15, 1991
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin Records Us
  • ASIN: B000008FVT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,546 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
83%
4 star
10%
3 star
7%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 30 customer reviews
If you're new to Gang Starr, I'd recommend starting here.
Tim C.
Beatwise, Primo was just getting started but his sample selection and generous use of the 808 kick made this album an aural experiance that was perfect on every level.
Berk
This album embodies everything a hip-hop group should be.
Paul H.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Demetrius A. Armstrong on March 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Step in the Arena" is an excellent introduction to Gang Starr. Even though it is their second album, it shines as their true debut. Coming around the same time as Pete Rock & CL Smooth's "Mecca and the Soul Brother", and A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low End Theory", "Step In the Arena" utilizes jazz just as effectively, and combines Guru's clever wit with DJ Premier's street sensibilities. Probably serving as DJ Premier's definitive early 90's production, the beats are hard in the way they ride so easily. Their bass heaviness was dense enough to pull strongly at the airy light jazz samples and hooks to achieve an equilibrium that became a gold standard. What you have in the end is an extremely listenable mix of two genres deeply connected to each other in their way of communication with and their origination within Black America (namely, jazz and hip-hop). While it was in no way a light weight on issues that confronted Black America in the early 90's, it didn't concentrate on them as feverishly as some of it's contemporaries. It did what a Gang Starr record always does, and that's putting the limitatations of all that are lesser in sharp relief. Squeezing 18 tracks in just over 50 minutes, the average song was just 2 to 3 minutes, but they were used very well, and are a study of minutes of near perfection. If it weren't for their 1998 comeback masterpiece "Moment of Truth", this would more than likely still stand as their best album because it garners the trait of all albums produced in that similar vein. Those were works deeply connected with the time of their inception, but age so gracefully that they still sound just as good or better still than anything today. Simply put, "Step in the Arena" is one of the most stunning albums by a rap duo when all the dynamics are right, and it holds as one of the lesser referenced but still true highlights of hip-hop's new jack phase.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hiphopluva on August 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Step In The Arena" did feel a lot like an debut album than a sophmore release, not taking anything away from "No More Mr. Nice Guy" but that album was more like a demo record. Whereas "Step In The Arena" was a peek into the future as to what was to come later for GangStarr. Guru's veteran type flow/hungry new coming MC intensity and Premier's bass heavy jazzed out beats made this album a timeless classic which could go toe-to-toe with the new material being release today. Any true hiphop head needs to have this CD in their collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul H. on May 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Step In The Arena has to be one of Gang Starr's best albums. From the funky "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?" to the laid-back "Love Sick" to the amazing title cut, Step In The Arena is flawless. Guru and Primo to me are probably the greatest duo in hip-hop. If you don't have any Gang Starr material, be sure to pick this one up. DJ Premier's jazzy, thumping beats and Guru's distinctive monotone are one-of-a-kind. The production, lyrics, and delivery are always on point. This album embodies everything a hip-hop group should be. This is a must-have for any Gang Starr/hip-hop fan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RapSuperstar on March 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Quality guarantee doesn't come around very often in hip-hop, but Gang Starr delivered four solid albums during the 90's. As long as DJ Premier handled the production, you knew the product was goin' to be great. To pick a classic of these four records aren't too easy, but my personal favourite has always been Step In The Arena. After a vaccinate start in '89 with their debutalbum No More Mr. Nice Guy, Guru and Premier found their formula for success with this one. Instead of copying the soundpicture of that time, which where very dance orientated and funky, they created their own, unique sound.

On "Step In The Arena" everything worked well. Primo's jazz influenced beats fitted Guru perfectly. It was laidback, but at the same time rough, and Guru haven't sound any better on the mic, than what he does here. He seems more comfortable in his role that time. He could talk about wankstas "Just To Get A Rep", wack mc's "Step In The Arena" or be soft "Love Sick" All these songs where a refreshing listen. In a time where rap was very political and aggressive, Gang Starr took it another step longer. Jazz were about to play an important role in hip-hop the following years. As you already know, Primo became one of the 90's most influence producers with melodious vocal cuts combined with drums. He could cut samples like no other, and it's not a coincidence that he have worked with big names like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. Even Janet Jackson and Limp Bizkit have hired him to remix their hits.

Step In The Arena where followed by Daily Operation and Hard To Earn. These three records are their best work. As a producer Premier just got better, but a little charm disappeared. Step In The Arena was somethin' new and different.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By cacophonous_A on April 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Although so old it is a genius album and undoubtedly better than any present artists around (apart from the underground and the minor few). Dj Premier one of the greatest producers ever to come onto the scene reknowned for his laid back jazzy themes, body banging basslines and original and beautiful cuts and samples ( take a listen to Check The Technique and take a rest) and Guru, gifted unlimtited rhymes universal, an artist who knows no limit in vocabulary, subject matter and pure headknodding funk. His monotone "just smoked one" voice goes wonderfully with his straight off the tongue steady and flowing lyrics.
Gang Starr will always be known in the rap game and this is the reason. If you want to start your ill rap cd collection start with this. This is the foundations of rap, and dont misunderstand me this isnt the nursery rhyme slow and retarded flows of the 80's, the lyrics are untimely and will always seem like they just came out now. Pure intelligence was poured into this cd and it shows.
DJ premier and GURU: winning combination, Step in the arena: Grimey, intelligent and funky album, Gang Starr: Knockout kingz of Hip Hop and the epitomy of ill rap.
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