The very mention of Stretch and Bobbito is enough to crack a smile from any true hip-hop lover. They are each virtually peerless as far as cultural influence, let alone as a duo. And though the two remain active in furthering and proliferating NYC culture, on Thursday they debut a film called Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, a documentary directed by Bobbito García which chronicles their on air partnership from 1990-1998.
Growing up in Spanish Harlem playing the drums imbued Adrian Bartos with a love of rhythm that would inform his transformation to DJ Stretch Armstrong, the name he used rocking NYC’s beloved underground venues in the late 80s. As a student at Columbia, he secured a slot on the university’s WKCR radio station and brought along his friend Bobbito García aka DJ Cucumber Slice as co-host. It eventually grew into what The Source would call “The Best Of All Time” hip-hop radio show, thanks in part to its role in broadcasting some of the earliest recordings and in-studio sessions by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G., Big L and Jay-Z. From ’96-‘03 he took on another weekly wee-hours slot (Monday morning/Sunday night), another bulwark for the burgeoning underground scene. Around this time he started venturing back into open format spinning, establishing the famous Monday night at Tribeca Grand which hosted a diverse collection of acts Todd Terry, Kenny Dope, Queens of The Stone Age and DJ Premier. Stretch is also known for his work as a producer for the likes of Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil Kim and Mobb Deep, not to mention his stint as an A&R for Big Beat/Atlantic and Loud Records.
A member of the Rock Steady Crew, known as THE seminal b-boy crew with roots in hip-hop’s origin, Bobbito García is also a New York native, who grew up on the playground basketball court under the tutelage of Earl Manigault. When he was brought on to WKCR, his stadium-sized personality provided the show’s levity. In 1995, he founded Fondle ‘Em Records, which backed releases by artists who appeared on Stretch and Bobbito, including MF DOOM, Kool Keith, Cage, and Y@K Ballz. After Fondle ‘Em closed down, García began what is now a universally respected career in documentary filmmaking. In 2005 he explored sneaker culture in It’s The Shoes, in 2012 he teamed with Kevin Couliau for Doin It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC. His on air talents have been drafted by both ESPN and MSG Network for TV shows and segments, as well as EA Sports for their NBA and NBA Street video game series. If all that’s not enough, García’s also a titan in publishing, as the author of a book entitled Where’d You Get Those?: New York City’s Sneaker Culture 1960-1987 and creator of the quarterly magazine Bounce: From The Playground.
Right after Thursday’s Urbanworld Film Festival premier of Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, the duo will be manning the decks at Cielo, reminding us why we stayed glued to our FM radios from 1am-5am every Friday morning and proving once more that true genius and inspiration are never bygone. They will be joined by Lord Sear and Suce (Sucio Smash), plus a surprise guest…