Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives

Dir. Bobbito Garcia

With its jazz and funk-infused samples cut together with heavily syncopated beats, accompanied by raw lyricism that painted vivid pictures of life in New York City, 90s East Coast hip hop produced a definitive sound and a collective sensibility which still resonates with old and new hip hop heads alike.

Before the commercialisation of this unique New York sound, a pair of natives, DJ Stretch Armstrong and host Bobbito Garcia, broadcasted a radio show on WKCR, which introduced the city, and subsequently the world, to then-unsigned or unknown emcees, including Nas, Biggie, Wu Tang Clan, Fat Joe, Jay-Z, Mobb Deep and many others.

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives is a nostalgic dive into the show’s history and its impact, containing video clips of the original show intersected by present day interviews with the featured artists. As Stretch and Bobbito reminisce over the rhymes, beats and general fun with guests and listeners, it’s clear that the show’s organic approach to radio production lent itself to one of the primary markers of hip hop: authenticity. The film also briefly acknowledges the masculine-dominated space, both physical and metaphorical, of hip hop, with a few anecdotes recounted by the show’s female interns.

Stretch and Bobbito is as much a narrative about a friendship as it is about a radio show or hip hop. The film documents their unlikely pairing, their natural chemistry on air, and the deterioration of a friendship which also coincided with what some would consider the end of the genre’s ‘golden era’. This sense of loss - of friendships, of an authenticity, of a particular sound and sentiment - can also be placed within a wider context of a particular pre-digital moment, which is laced with melancholic undertones.

It would seem that the process of making this documentary has offered not only a level of reconciliation of a personal relationship, but also a professional one, as the show is being revived through NPR podcasts this year.

Mina Suder

Stretch and Bobbito was the second instalment of The Hip Hop Chip Shop’s Hip Hop Doc Spot at Kosmonaut. Doc Spot screened the equally entertaining Adult Rappers (2015, Dir. Paul Iannacchino) in March. For future screenings, check their website.