Think of just about any game changing 90s hip hop artist and it’s likely Adrian ‘Stretch’ Bartos and Bobbito Garcia broke them to the world. Every Thursday during the 1990s from 1am–5am on Columbia’s WKCR radio station, DJ Stretch and host Bobbito commanded a loyal following of listeners spanning hip-hop heads to prison inmates and industry execs. The pair were known for their on-air comedy and championing of unsigned talent in inviting artists to perform freestyle raps. Careers of Nas, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z and Wu-Tang Clan; you name it, they launched it.
To mark the 25th anniversary of their first show, the duo’s story is captured in a new documentary, Stretch and Bobbito: The Radio that Changed Lives. Directed by Bobbito himself, the film features previously unrecorded verses from Biggie Smalls as well as taped footage of the studio sessions. Following the film’s premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, this week it hits screens on general release. Here, Stretch reflects on what made those 90s stars such legends – from the importance of free speech and the pre-internet rituals of music discovery, to modern hip hop – including Drake’s lack of lyricism.
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[This article was originally published in HERO Magazine on 24/10/16]