Step in the Arena (album)

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Step in the Arena
Studio album by Gang Starr
Released January 15, 1991
Recorded 1990
Calliope Productions in New York, New York
Firehouse Studios in Brooklyn, New York
Such-A-Sound Studio in Brooklyn, New York
Genre East Coast Hip Hop
Length 50:37
Label Chrysalis/EMI Records
0946 3 21798 2 1
Producer DJ Premier, Guru
Gang Starr chronology
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Step in the Arena
Daily Operation

Step in the Arena is the second studio album by hip hop duo Gang Starr, released on January 15, 1991.[1] In 2007, it was named the greatest hip hop album of all time by[2] HipHopDX called it "the album that cemented Gang Starr as a timeless tag team."[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[4]
Entertainment Weekly B[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[6]
Select 4/5[7]
The Source 3.5/5[8]
Sputnikmusic 4/5[9]

In his review for The Source magazine, Reef wrote: "Step in the Arena stands alone on a musical level, yet it also remains true to hip-hop's underground heritage."[8]


In addition to and HipHopDX's accolades, the album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[10] In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Hip Hop Albums.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

The song "Who's Gonna Take the Weight" was remixed by DJ Premier for use in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.[12] "Step In the Arena" was on the video games Skate It and Skate 2,[13] and "Just to Get a Rep" was on Thrasher: Skate and Destroy.[14]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Name Tag (Premier & The Guru)"
  2. "Step in the Arena"
  3. "Form of Intellect"
  4. "Execution of a Chump (No More Mr. Nice Guy Pt. 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"
  19. "Credit Is Due" [Japan-only bonus track]


Name Tag (Premier & The Guru)

Step in the Arena

Form of Intellect

Execution of a Chump (No More Mr. Nice Guy Pt. 2)

Who's Gonna Take the Weight?

Beyond Comprehension

Check the Technique

Love Sick

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Game Plan

Take a Rest

What You Want This Time?

  • "Nose Job" by James Brown
  • "Life (Is What You Make It)" by Frighty & Colonel Mite

Street Ministry

Just to Get a Rep

Say Your Prayers

As I Read My S-A

  • "Easy to Be Hard" by Kole & Param

Precisely the Right Rhymes

The Meaning of the Name


  • Guru - rap, production, mixing
  • DJ Premier - beats, scratch, production, mixing
  • Lisle Leete - piano, engineering
  • Shlomo Sonnenfeld - engineering
  • Yoram Vazam - engineering
  • Howie Weinberg - mastering
  • Marc Cozza - art direction, design
  • Rick Patrick - logo



Chart (1991) Peak
UK Albums (OCC)[15] 36
US Billboard 200[16] 121
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[17] 19


Year Song Chart position
Hot Rap Singles
1991 "Just to Get a Rep" 5
"Who's Gonna Take The Weight?" 9
Lovesick 11
"Step In The Arena" 5


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Top 25 Hip Hop Albums—Music Feature at IGN". 
  3. ^ "TIMELESS: DJ Premier Revisits Gang Starr's "Step In The Arena". 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2016-02-24. 
  4. ^ Swihart, Stanton. "Step in the Arena – Gang Starr". AllMusic. Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  5. ^ Mack, Bob (January 25, 1991). "Step in the Arena". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 11, 2016. 
  6. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 322. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  7. ^ Higginbotham, Adam (February 1991). "Mo' Better Rap". Select (8): 69. 
  8. ^ a b Reef (February 1991). "Gang Starr: Step in the Arena". The Source (18). Archived from the original on March 21, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ Aziz (January 6, 2012). "Review: Gang Starr – Step in the Arena". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved July 11, 2016. 
  10. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 
  11. ^ Columnist. The 100 Best Rap Albums. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-12-07.
  12. ^ "Music stations: THE CLASSICS 104.1". Retrieved 2016-02-24. 
  13. ^ "EA Unveils Eclectic Soundtracks for Skate It and Skate 2". 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2016-02-24. 
  14. ^ "Thrasher: Skate and Destroy". 1999-06-12. Retrieved 2016-02-24. 
  15. ^ "Gang Starr | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart
  16. ^ "Gang Starr – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Gang Starr.
  17. ^ "Gang Starr – Chart history" Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for Gang Starr.