On Thursday nights from 1990-1998, the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on New York City’s WKCR-FM was the heart of the city’s hip hop underground. The show aired once a week, and in spite of its 1-5am airtime, heads across the city would stay up late with multiple cassette tapes ready each episode to make sure they got the whole thing recorded. Rappers both established (Nas, Q-Tip, Method Man) and so far underground that almost no one knew who they were (Tony Bones, Dark Skinned Assassin, Paula Perry) made sure not to miss an invite to appear on the show. At such a late hour, FCC regulations were all but ignored, and unedited versions of songs were played in between freestyles and interviews from the guests. Stretch and especially Bobbito’s influence carried on beyond the show, and Bobbito’s Fondle ‘Em Records was the premier independent hip hop label of the late 90s and early 2000s, along with Rawkus and Definitive Jux. Fondle ‘Em released classic records by Kool Keith, the Juggaknots, and MHz, along with MF Doom’s legendary debut Operation Doomsday (the label’s second and last full-length LP).
The show went off the air in 1998, but the duo has occasionally reunited to host concert showcases and other events. In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the show’s end, Stretch and Bobbito finally made their return to WKCR for a one-time special in their original Thursday night 1-5am timeslot. Original episodes of the show had to circulate through copies of cassettes among serious hip hop heads, but thankfully it’s 2013, so this reunion show was almost immediately posted on Soundcloud.
Also, an incomplete archive of the show’s original run can be found here. A show featuring the Roots and Masta Ace Inc. has been a particular favorite of mine, but there isn’t a dud to be found in this entire archive.