#5. Gang Starr "Who's Gonna Take the Weight" (1991)
Album: Step in the Arena Label: Chrysalis/EMI Records
Guru could always be relied upon to break down the essential components of Gang Starr's music as such: street knowledge, intellect, and spirituality. No individual song from the group's catalog interweaves all three elements as fluidly as "Who's Gonna Take the Weight." With Premier's Bomb Squad–style sax squeal sounding the alarm, Guru issues a declarative opening couplet ("I was raised like a Muslim—praying to the east/Nature of my life relates rhymes I release") that forcefully sets the song's thematic tone, with the winding, stream-of-consciousness verses that follow urging self-enlightenment and mental mobilization between gun-blast FX, compulsive flirtations with and dismissals of material goods, and visions of nuclear fallout. Epic.