This weekend marked the 25th Anniversary of Gang Starr's seminal sophomore LP 'Step in the Arena'. The follow up to 1989's 'No More Mr Nice Guy', 'Step in the Arena' is widely regarded as the album which marked the origins of what would become 'the Gang Starr sound', moving away from the more typically late 80s sound of its predecessor and delving into brief repetitive loops mined from a more varied pallet of source material. Keen not to be type-cast as a 'jazz-rap' outfit following the success of the single 'Jazz Thing' (taken from the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 'Mo Better Blues'), the album is equal parts street lyricism and infectiously funky backdrops. The album spawned numerous singles: 'Just to Get a Rep' (released prior to the LP), 'Take A Rest', the title track 'Step in the Arena' and 'Lovesick' (arguably the most commercial of the singles, backed with the previously unreleased 'Credit is Due').
The single 'Step In The Arena' comes in at #25 in Ego Trip's Top 40 Rap Singles of 1991. Surprisingly the LP does not appear in the chart of the year's top albums.
'Form of Intellect' and 'Step in the Arena' from the LP both appear in our Classic Material 1991 mixtape.