A Reintroduction To 'Stretch And Bobbito'
Bobbito Garcia is back with another compelling documentary that we're sure many of our readers will be intrigued by. We're throwing the mic over to Craig Leckie to introduce it ...
Bobbito Garcia is arguably the most knowledgeable person on the subject of retro basketball sneakers and the culture of Hip-Hop that spawned the proliferation of 'sports-footwear'. In May 1991, he penned the first magazine article on 'Sneaker Culture' in The Source magazine, called ‘Confessions of a Sneaker Addict’. He was the producer and host of the iconic ESPN TV show dedicated to the culture called 'It's The Shoes' which kicked off in 2005, and he is the author of the basketball shoes bible 'Where'd Ya Get Those'. In 2012, along with French director & cinematographer Kevin Couliau, Bobbito co-produced and co-directed the visually stunning documentary Doin' It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC, unquestionably one of SNKRFRKR's favourite movies of the year and a perfect entry-point for any sneakerhead wanting to learn more about the history of kicks.
His next full-lengther [PAUSE] is another charming, informative and hilariously funny example of what a documentary can be. It uncovers both the visual and aural elements of an award winning college radio show that Bobbito and close friend DJ Stretch Armstrong presented during the 90s. The show ran from Thursday 25th October 1990, with these 'outlaws of the radio' mapping out their own future with the now legendary Hip-Hop radio show that was recognized as “The Best Of All-Time” by TheSource Magazine in 1998. The show ran from 1am to 5am every Thursday night on WKCR until 98 and was called The Stretch Armstrong Show, hosted by Bobbito The Barber. As a DJ, Stretch knew exactly what sonics where required for a dope record, whether it was a B-Side or an LP cut, he had the hunger and the pitiless ear of a true Rap fan. And as he was already tearing up NYC crowds at venues like Mars. His desire, ability and talent, as Nas explains in the film, assisted in the show becoming 'The most important [radio] show in the world'. Stretch would be dropping gems behind the decks, and Bobbito, at times would be happy to drop 'Gold Air Biscuits' live on air. If you don't know what that is, you can A] Hug 'em, or B] Dig on-line to find more Stretch & Bobbito shows! The music simply wasn't being presented or mixed in this style by any other Rap radio show, and as 'Ultimate taste-makers', the pair [along with co-hosts Kurious Jorge and Lord Sear], lovingly created a platform for the future 'Gods of Rap' to display their talents.
Stretch and Bobbito introduced the unsuspecting world to an unsigned Nasty Nas, a similarly unsigned Biggie Smalls and an embryonic Wu-Tang Clan [that rolled inordinately deep to the studios of WKCR one night to ensure that their 'Protect Ya Neck' white label would get some attention/ air-time]. Fresh-faced artists like Jay-Z and Eminem also appeared along with hundreds of other MCs, DJs and outfits when they were virtually unknown at the time. Luckily, all these stories are highlighted and explained in great detail in the film, with truck-loads of footage of a huge amount of these artists hearing their Raps for the first time since the initial broadcasts.
As Bobbito explains 'I'd say a majority of the artists we interviewed had never heard their freestyle on our show, and those that had, certainly hadn't heard it in yeeeears'. The late night broadcast spawned a cult following worldwide. From Japan to Australia to Europe and back again 'Listeners, bluntheads, fly ladies and prisoners, Hennessy-holders and old-school ni$$as' coveted the shows they'd dubbed and copied onto cassettes. Devotees fiended for the unapologetic and stimulating [PAUSE] humor, as well as the exclusive tunes and seemingly never-ending weekly appearances of quality guests. As Stretch himself explains, 'The 90's were a really special period in Hip-Hop, they were a transition from the innocence and discovery of the 80's, into the commercialisation and globalization of the 2000's and beyond'.
Fundamentally, Stretch and Bobbito created a platform that, as the film's title suggests, changed the lives of a huge amount of people simply because of their outlook on life and their approach to what they felt was Hip-Hop, allowing new audiences to experience Rap with a SOH for the first time. The show, its format and the dynamic the presenters had with their guests and their audience will never be repeated, but this previously unseen history and the unheard 'treats' from the 8-year-run can be witnessed for the first time in this incredible documentary.