Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Gang Starr - Step In The Arena 2xLP


Virgin (2019, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

For me, Daily Operation and Hard To Earn are the quintessential Gang Starr records.  They are the two I had in the 90s and the ones that I have listened to far more than anything else.  Over the intervening years I have picked up more of the Gang Starr catalog.  While I haven't upgraded everything to vinyl, I did decide that it was time to add their sophomore album Step In The Arena to the collection.

While there is nothing on this record as good as the material on the two albums that followed, there is a lot to love about Step In The Arena.  This is where DJ Premier really started coming into his own, beats wise.  The production on this album is ten million miles ahead of anything on the group's debut No More Mr. Nice Guy.  

Plus, the vast, vast majority of the record is just Premier and Guru.  One of the things that drove me crazy about the Gang Starr records Moment of Truth and beyond is that they were so crammed full of unneeded guest appearances that they hardly felt like Gang Starr records.  I know that an issue with hip hop records as a whole and isn't limited to Gang Starr.  I don't mind two or three tracks with a guest verse, but when you're relying on others for more than half of your album, it just feels watered down to me.

That's not an issue issue with Step Into The Arena.  You get Guru emerging as one of hip hop's great MCs and laying the foundation for the two certified Gang Starr classics that were next in line.

Gang Starr - Step In The Arena (YouTube Music full album playlist):

No comments:

Post a Comment