Draft:The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show

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The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show was a hip hop radio show broadcast in New York on 89.9FM WKCR, from a basement station at Columbia University. The show was hosted by Adrian Bartos (DJ Stretch Armstrong) and Robert "Bobbito" Garcia, and functioned as an alternative to commercial hip hop radio by airing unsigned artists, rarities and B-sides from commercial artists, and live freestyles and DJ scratch sessions. The show has been credited with introducing the world to Biggie Smalls, Eminem, Jay Z, Big L, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Wu Tang Clan, Fugees and many other names which would rise to prominence in the mid to late 1990s..[1]

History[edit]

WKCR[edit]

In the late 1980s, DJ Stretch Armstrong was a club DJ in New York, and Bobbito worked as a Radio Show Promotions Rep for Def Jam. Armstrong had the idea to DJ his own hip hop radio show while attending Columbia University as a freshman, and recruited Bobbito to host the program. WKCR had already aired a hip hop radio show from 1986-88 called "We Could Do This Show", hosted by Pete Nice from 3rd Bass and DJs Clark Kent and Richie Rich. Although Stretch and Bobbito reportedly weren't influenced by this predecessor show on their station, Bobbito has cited Pete Nice's 3rd Bass counterpart MC Serch as integral to his career trajectory.[2]

The first episode of the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show aired on Thursday, October 25th, 1990, from 1am to 5am, and featured guests Latee and Def Jeff. The first song played on the program was Ego Trippin' by Ultramagnetic MCs. Armstrong's connections as a club DJ, and Bobbito's connections at Def Jam, gave them access to some of their early guests like MC Serch who helped bolster the show's early reputation. The show continued to air on Thursdays from 1am to 5am on 89.9 and would become informally known as "89tec9" by the hosts and listeners.[1]

Live freestyling became an element of the show on the second episode aired on November 8th, 1990 with guests MC Serch, Two Kings in a Cipher, Kurious, and AJ Damane.[3] From then on freestyling became an integral part of the show, and an unsigned emcee's freestyle could get them public recognition and in many instances record deals. Dante Ross, then Vice President of A&R at Elektra Records, signed Ol’ Dirty Bastard after hearing his Shimmy Shimmy Ya verses on the January 28th, 1993 show. El Da Sensei and Tame One of the hip hop group Artifacts also claim to have been signed because label reps heard their freestyles on the show.[4] Stretch and Bobbito were also able to air world premiers of songs like Nas' "It Aint Hard To Tell" which aired on October 28th, 1993.[1]

Due to the show's twilight hours time slot on WKCR Stretch and Bobbito were unaffected by the FCC's Safe Harbor law, which allowed them to air uncensored material and converse without any feeling of restriction. Lord Sear, who became a co-host of the show and served as comedic relief, took advantage of this with unabashed roasting of callers and guests, which contributed even more to the show's contrast with commercial radio.[1] Celebrity guests like Rosie Perez, Rosario Dawson, and Quincy Jones also made appearances on the show.

As the show's popularity increased, DJ Stretch Armstrong grew uncomfortable with ownership of the show being attributed to Bobbito by fans and interviewers, and the show's name was changed to The Stretch Armstrong Show with Host Bobbito.[1]

Hot 97[edit]

On February 11th, 1996 Stretch and Bobbito began airing their show Sundays on Hot 97, the prominent commercial hip hop radio station in New York, while continuing to air late Thursdays on WKCR. The transition to Hot 97 resulted in new FCC restrictions on the hosts and guest lyricists who could no longer use profanity, which altered the show's overall vibe and created a schism in their core listenership. While the show had changed its time slot and demeanor for Hot 97, the artists who appeared on the show continued to be prominent and relevant. Guests on their Hot 97 show included DJ Premier, Black Star, De La Soul, Common, XZibit, Noreaga, Brand Nubian, and more. Eminem and Royce Da 5'9's October 11th, 1998 appearance was on the Hot 97 Sunday show, which was considered his introduction to the New York City hip hop scene before the release of his debut LP in 1999.[5] Stretch and Bobbito began developing creative differences, and Stretch experienced a loss of enthusiasm for contemporary hip hop from 1997-98 which resulted in his frequent absence from the show, at which point Bobbito began DJing under the name DJ Cucumber Slice while hosting the show. In November 1998 the hosts' creative differences and ambivalence toward the work came to a head and the show ended.

Reunion[edit]

On February 10th, 2011, Stretch and Bobbito hosted a 20th anniversary reunion concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York which featured performances and attendances by Raekwon, Artifacts, Buckshot, Masta Ace, The Beatnuts, DJ Premier, and more.[6]

In October 2015 Bobbito Garcia released the documentary, "Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives", which he wrote and directed. The documentary outlines the inception and history of the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show featuring video and audio material from the show's 1990-98 run, as well as reflective interviews with emcees who were connected to the show such as Nas, Jay Z, Eminem, Raekwon, Large Professor, Pharoahe Monch and many more.[7]

Stretch and Bobbito re-united for radio in 2016 and began airing episodes from Samsung's 837 studio in New York City.[8]

On July 18th, 2017, the "What's Good with Stretch and Bobbito" podcast began airing through NPR studios. Stretch and Bobbito have used the new platform to continue exploring the realm of hip hop, and have expanded the show's interest to more general pop culture by interviewing actors, comedians, activists, authors, renowned chefs and more. In 2018 The Atlantic named the new show "One of the 50 best podcasts of 2018".[9]

Legacy[edit]

In The Source's 100th issue, released in January 1998, The Stretch Armstrong with host Bobbito Show was named “Best hip hop radio show”, rated above The Wake Up Show with Sway and Tech on 92.3 The Beat, Mr. Magic and Marley Marl on WBLS, and Red Alert on KISS FM.[10]

Freestyles from The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show have been included on artists' albums and compilations over the years. Some examples include "98 Freestyle" from Big L's posthumous album "The Big Picture", “The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR October 28, 1993 feat. Nas, 6’9″, Jungle & Grand Wizard,” on the album Illmatic XX,[11] "Live from the D.J. Stretch Armstrong Show (feat. Black Thought, Common, Pharoahe Monch & Absolute AKA Xtra)" from Lyricist Lounge, Vol. 1, "Stretch & Bobbito Promo (Intro By Serch)" from O.C.'s 2010 O-Zone Originals EP[12], "Stretch and Bobbito INI freestyle" from Rob O's 2006 album Rhyme Pro, and three tracks from Necro's 2001 album, Rare Demos and Freestyles, Vol. 2[13]

In the documentary "Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives", Nas states "At that time, [The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show] was the most important show in the world. I wrote most of my first album listening to [the] show". According to The Source magazine, the total record sales of emcees who premiered on The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show have exceeded 300 million.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Stretch And Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, 2015 (Documentary)
  2. ^ https://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX- (2016-08-22). "Stretch and Bobbito Speak On The Greatest Hip Hop Radio Show Ever. Their Own". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  3. ^ The Combat Jack Show, June 14th 2016, "The Stretch and Bobbito Episode"
  4. ^ 247HH.COM (2018-02-25), Artifacts - Significance Of Stretch & Bobbito, And Our Hip Hop Influences (247HH Exclusive), retrieved 2019-05-26
  5. ^ "Radio That Changed Lives: The Day Stretch and Bobbito Broke Eminem in NYC". Complex. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  6. ^ "Stretch & Bobbito 20th Anniversary Show". Rap Radar. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  7. ^ Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, retrieved 2019-05-26
  8. ^ "Stretch + Bobbito, Mick, and Scratch Bring DJ Culture to Samsung's 837 Space - Scratch DJ Academy". Stretch + Bobbito, Mick, and Scratch Bring DJ Culture to Samsung's 837 Space - Scratch DJ Academy. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  9. ^ McQuade, Laura Jane Standley, Eric (2018-12-23). "The 50 Best Podcasts of 2018". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  10. ^ "The Source: 100th Issue". The Source Magazine: pg. 172. January 1998.
  11. ^ https://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX- (2014-04-14). ""Illmatic XX" Producer Noah Uman Details Nas' Work On Project". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  12. ^ "O.C. - O-Zone Originals EP". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  13. ^ "Necro - Rare Demos And Freestyles, Vol. 2". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  14. ^ officialdon (2015-10-09). "Stretch & Bobbito Film Highlights NYC Legends Who Put Lyricists On The Map". The Source. Retrieved 2019-05-26.