Side Note

Listen to vintage episodes of the greatest hip-hop radio show of all time

The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show lives on in the Internet Archive.

For a good chunk of the 1990s, Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia were the unlikely epicenter New York’s underground hip-hop scene. Their late-night radio show on Columbia’s WKCR, appropriately titled The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, featured Bobbito cracking wise as Armstrong spun some of the best and most forward-thinking rap records the genre had seen. Often, the pair would play host to hottest rising talent in hip-hop, ceding the mic to then-unknowns such as the Fugees, Souls of Mischief, and, during one particularly legendary session, Big L and Jay Z.

The infamous Big L/Jay Z freestyle

Just as DJ Screw’s legendary Screw Tapes came to represent a very specific time and place in Houston rap history, Stretch and Bobbito were 90’s New York hip-hop. Though they eventually ported their show over to local hip-hop powerhouse Hot 97, they never really deviated from what made them great — a pair of good-natured rap nerds spinning records and making goofy jokes, chatting it up with rappers itching to showcase their ability to demolish a mic. The pair went their separate ways in 1999 before coming together in 2015 to make the documentary Stretch and Bobbito: Radio that Changed Lives, which looked back upon their legacy and just so happens to be one of the best hip-hop films of the past two decades.

If you dig through the digital crates of the Internet Archive, you can find some wonderful old Stretch and Bobbito episodes waiting to be streamed. They’re not all in one place, so I took the liberty of assembling some of them for you below. Given part of the show’s appeal lay in its warm, murky audio quality, the fact that these recordings have decayed a bit through digital replication only adds to their grainy charm.

The first, from a 1994 show, finds Stretch and Bobbito debuting unreleased music by A Tribe Called Quest.

Here’s an episode from 1995 featuring a freestyle from Natural Elements, one of the New York underground’s criminally forgotten crews (Stretch and Bobbito start talking to them around the 2:20:00 mark, and the freestyles come shortly thereafter).

For a taste of Stretch and Bobbito’s Hot 97 days, check out this episode from Stretch’s birthday.

And here’s an early episode, whose uploader wrote that early Stretch and Bob tapes are so rare these days that “even Stretch and Bob themselves have been asking for them.”