This weeks Anniversary Album is Step In the Arena by East Coast hip hop duo Gang Starr.
Celebrating 25 years this year, Step In the Arena was released in 1991 and was the duo’s second studio album.
Gang Starr of course is made up of MC Guru and the influential DJ Premier.
The nineteen track album was influenced by jazz, while there is also quite a strong emphasis on the beats. On this record, Guru’s delivery in his raps was quite deadpan, something which in itself was unique compared with a lot of the other aggressive rapping of the period.
The album also contains a lot of samples during a period where sampling was in full swing in hip hop. Over 40 samples appear on the record including samples from LL Cool J, The Meters and Curtis Mayfield.
Step Into the Arena made it into the top 20 on the Billboard rap charts and is generally considered to be Gang Starr’s first critically acclaimed album, receiving a 4.5 star rating from Rolling Stone magazine.
It would also help launch the duo as one of the leading hip hop acts of the underground scene at the time.
In 1998 The Source selected Step In the Arena in their list of the top 100 greatest hip hop albums.
A true early-90’s underground classic.