- Released: July 23, 1996
- Label: Virgin Records Us
Entertainment Weekly - 1/25/91
"..busts rhythms that boast without resorting to misogyny and profanity. And their lazy backbeats and playful brass flourishes serve as a backdrop not only for humour..but even wisdom." - Rating: B
- 1.Name Tag (Premier and the Guru)
- 2.Step in the Arena
- 3.Form of Intellect
- 4.Execution of a Chump (No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 2)
- 5.Who's Gonna Take the Weight?
- 6.Beyond Comprehension
- 7.Check the Technique
- 8.Love Sick
- 9.Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
- 10.Game Plan
- 11.Take a Rest
- 12.What You Want This Time?
- 13.Street Ministry
- 14.Just to Get a Rep
- 15.Say Your Prayers
- 16.As I Read My S-A
- 17.Precisely the Right Rhymes
- 18.The Meaning of the Name
Gang Starr: Guru (vocals); DJ Premier (DJ).
Additional personnel: Lisle Leete (piano).
Recorded at Calliope Productions, New York, Firehouse Studios and Such-A-Sound Studio, Brooklyn, New York.
Reflecting the combination of inner-city upbringing and college education which both members share, Gang Starr manages to attain the perfect balance of intellect and street credibility; harder than so-called hard-core, more experimental than "experimental hip-hop" and funkier than 99.9 percent of mainstream rap's party jam output. In a culture based on battles and an industry known for feuds and ego-clashes, Gang Starr is perhaps the only outfit to command respect from every corner of the hip-hop spectrum. Individually or as a unit, Guru & Premier have collaborated with "alternative" hip-hop crews (De La Soul, Digable Planets, Dream Warriors), jazz artists (Donald Byrd, Branford Marsalis) R&B stars (Janet Jackson, K-Ci & Jo-Jo) and hard-core MC's (KRS ONE, M.O.P., Notorious B.I.G) without ever compromising their cult status in the underground.
Their second album STEP IN THE ARENA is the release that truly put the duo on map after "Manifest" and "Jazz Thing" first garnered public attention. In addition to pioneering the incorporation of jazz samples into the hip-hop canon of funk & soul drum breaks, this record witnessed DJ Premier single-handedly lifting the orchestration of turntable cuts to the level of a jazz soloist improvising on another musician's phrase.