During the Golden age of Hip-Hop (as many like to call it), two disciples stood at the throne allowing the gates to open for a number of MC’s, true Hip-Hop MC’s that displayed nothing but hunger and bars. With a radio signal and an obsessive passion for Hip-Hop, Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito hosted “89 tech 9”, a radio show which had become a rite of passage for aspiring rappers. Because of this, the college radio show undeniably captured some of Rap’s greatest moments of all time. Hip-Hop wasn’t mainstream then; there was a constant fight to be heard and The Stretch and Bobbito Show provided just the right platform. Aspiring rappers across the U.S. blessed the mic at the old Columbia University studio where the show was hosted, and some went on to become larger than life superstars of the 2000’s. Before the popular use of internet, before super manning that heaux, before Hip-Hop losing herself, every Thursday from 1990-1998 “the most important radio show in the world” as told by Nas, was hosted by DJ Stretch Armstrong with Bobbito on the mic.
This past October, Bobbito and Stretch released an exciting documentary for Rap nerds around the world, titled Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives which gives a revitalizing P.O.V. of an era long gone. The documentary early on overflows with ebullience. Behind the mic scenes of emerging talent being dissected by the super-ears of beat-ccentric Stretch and lyrically moved Bobbito are peppered in the opening scenes. Look close enough and you are able to distinguish a young Busta Ryhmes, which serves as a comedic relief throughout the film. The documentary then takes turns in highlighting memorable moments of the show and explains with full detail why the radio show changed lives. One by one, we see legendary rappers violently drop bars in the studio with a do or die attitude-as if their life depended on it. We hear about Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s rise to fame because of his appearance on the show. We presence through the audio, the rap talent of a young unknown Jay-z on a freestyle with the late and great Big L. We hear the Nas freestyle over a Stretch beat and in an epic scene, see Nas marvel at the forgotten track. Another “Holy Shit” moment is Notorious B.I.G.‘s freestyle verse being listened to for the first time since the show by the hosts. Even the Fugees kill the mic, after being doubted by Bobbito in a 1991 appearance, and slowly but surely we see how this particular radio show became the launchpad in propelling artist’s popularity and success.
The film dwells on the diamonds in the rough, and its rawness of talent is what pulls you in to keep watching. Packed with feel-good vibes, Stretch and Bobbito: Radio that changed lives depicts a humbling attitude towards the grassroots of Hip-Hop and reminds the viewer, what a time it was to be alive-then.