New Museum: An Evening with Stretch & Bob

Widely regarded as the best hip hop radio program of all time, the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show broadcast from Columbia University every Thursday night from 1990–1998. Cohosts Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia operated one of the few independent, noncommercial forums for hip hop in the ’90s, a position that allowed them to explore the furthest creative, political, and controversial reaches of rap music. By featuring exclusive demo tapes and in-studio freestyles from unsigned artists, the show introduced countless MCs to the world, including Nas, the Notorious B.I.G., and the Wu-Tang Clan. Home-recorded tapes of the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show have circulated internationally for decades, celebrated as much for their humor and attitude as for their incredible selection and mixing. Today, contemporary websites offer exhaustive catalogues of these historic programs, reiterating their continued relevance.

In conjunction with the New Museum exhibition “NYC 1993,” Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia discussed New York City circa 1993 through the lens of rap music. Events like the election of Rudolph Giuliani and the World Trade Center bombing changed the city’s landscape, as debut releases by the Wu-Tang Clan and Black Moon established a new tone for New York rap. With unfiltered access to these artists and their concerns, the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show provided unique documentation of New York in the 1990s, compiling a history of ideas and gestures that continue to inform today’s artists.

Journalist and author Sacha Jenkins was the moderator for this discussion. Jenkins is one of the founders of noted hip hop think tank ego trip (which has produced the books ego trip’s Book of Rap Lists and ego trip’s Big Book of Racism! as well as the White Rapper show for VH1). In 1992, Jenkins cofounded Beat Down, America’s first hip hop newspaper.