This past weekend I headed out to DTLA’s Regent Theater where I saw a screening for Stretch and Bobbito’s Radio That Changed Lives documentary.
The documentary chronicles Stretch and Bobbito’s journey through the uncharted territory of underground 90’s hiphop in a vessel called College Radio. In the 90’s the hiphop community at large used College Radio as a means to inform themselves of the latest and greatest that hiphop had to offer.
“Peace! Stretch and Bobbito here, 25 years after our first WKCR broadcast. We’re amped to share the history of our landmark show in a feature length documentary titled STRETCH AND BOBBITO: RADIO THAT CHANGED LIVES (www.stretchandbobbito.com). The film, produced by Omar Acosta, was co-produced by us with Kool Bob Love directing and Stretchy music supervising. ”
Here is why I really enjoyed the documentary.
In the 90’s, it was commonplace for cats to stay up late on that one night per week when the local College Radio station rocked the illest of the ill and the greatest of the greats in up and coming hiphop. Not only would we stay up late (like 1, 2 or 3am) and fall asleep because of it in class the next day but it all seemed so worth it when you put the tape on record and woke up to that “NEW NEW!” If you were as enterprising as Busta Rhymes reveals in the documentary, you may have even sold a few days on the come up.
Indeed, this was a part of the hiphop culture, nation wide, that mostly goes unnoticed. In the 90’s, if your local College Radio station was really ’bout it, they had lines in to NYC where they could get the occasional exclusive.
College Radio became a part of the circuit. If hiphop acts were touring or traveling to your city, the dope College Radio stations almost always had them on as guests for a live cypher and freestyle session. That was like cassette tape gold! If you caught those freestyles on tape you were the absolute man. This was like the golden era for what we refer to now as “tape culture”, before it was re-birthed and packaged to cool digital kids with analog sensibilities.
Myself, I am a native of Chicago. I regularly listened to and recorded College Radio station hiphop shows. Our local stations were/are WNUR, WCRX, WHPK and WKKC. All of these stations were near the end of the dial in the cheap seats. It was an act of skilled electronic Jerry rigging to get a half way decent signal. Which station tramsitted most clearly for you depended on which side of town you were on.
I grew up listening to WNUR. As I got older I attended Columbia College Chicago and became a regular (one of the resident crew of emcees) on the Last Crate Hip-Hop Show with The Phat Kid Therapy and DJ 3rd Rail. I tell you those were good times. Anything could happen and anyone could show up from Common and RhymeFest to Special Ed and KRS-One.
That all brings me back to the evening at the Regent at the screening for Stretch and Bobbito’s Radio That Changed Lives documentary. It was like being in a time machine that catapulted me back to the 90’s when hiphop was vibrant, alive and clever. There seemed to be an immeasurable amount of talent and fervor in the air. If you were lucky enough to live in a city with dope hiphop shows like Stretch and Bobbito’s, Sway and Tech’s or even The Last Crate, you were in the midst of the culture experiencing moments in time that will never return. Consider yourself lucky.
For those that were not there in the era, well, Stretch and Bobbito’s documentary will take you there. Their show was in a particularly sweet spot not just because of the space in time (the era) but because of location and proximity to the mecca of 90’s hiphop, NYC.
Stretch and Bobbito’s crowning glory, in my opinion, was that they existed as ground zero for 90’s hiphop on College Radio in NYC. Countless legendary appearances on the show were the precursor to countless legendary careers. This is why Stretch and Bobbito’s show is the absolute Apex in 90’s hiphop on College Radio.
For those that are into classic 90’s hiphop, cassette tape culture and rare freestyles, Stretch and Bobbito has launched a dope Kickstarter Campaign that offers the chance to back their DVD / Cassette Tape project.