Stretch & Bobbito Release An Album That Honors Some Of Hip-Hop’s Building Blocks
Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia are legends in the culture of Hip-Hop. The duo began their careers in radio on Columbia University’s WKCR radio station. Their late-night show helped jump-start iconic Rap careers by featuring the then-unsigned likes of Nas, JAY-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, Big L, Biggie Smalls, Fugees, Big Pun, and many others. That New York City experience that molded culture is chronicled in an excellent documentary, Radio That Changed Lives. With that foundation cemented, these two New Yorkers moved on to record company jobs, production credits, legendary parties, magazines, video game work, and putting out records that no other labels had the courage or foresight to.
In recent years, Bob and Stretch have hosted an NPR podcast that’s covered Hip-Hop and Lifestyle. Now, the artists behind some coveted freestyle compilation volumes and mix compilations have released their first official album. On Grammy Award-winner Eddie Palmier’s fresh Uprising Music in conjunction with Brooklyn Road, No Requests arrives. They even formed the M19s Band named after the M19 bus the two men once took as kids, bridging different sides of Upper Manhattan. This band was hand-assembled by the duo, and uses absolutely no samples. With features from Maimouna Youssef (aka Mumu Fresh), Mireya Ramos, Rich Medina, and Jose Parla, No Requests is a melting pot. It mixes Samba, Latin, Afrobeat, Reggae, Soul, and Jazz in a way that honors the Hip-Hop crates.
No Requests starts off with a song called “Anna From Woohside (Beat Suite),” and there is a soundbite of Nas speaking from their 2015 documentary. In it, Nasir Jones states that Bob and Stretch’s show was the most important show in the world, and he wrote a lot of Illmatic while tuned in. Fittingly, the beat drops with “NY State Of Mind” as a Jazz section, and it transforms into Notorious B.I.G.’s “Unbelievable,” another DJ Premier production. Fittingly, the beat veers to another Preemo moment: Crooklyn Dodgers’ “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers,” before Buckwild’s work on O.C.’s “Time’s Up,” and then A-Plus’ “93 ‘Til Infinity” beat for Souls Of Mischief. More than just an intro, the track is paying homage a place in time.
The album also features songs that are familiar to the club world, especially from days past. The Police’s “Voices Inside My Head” is covered, as The Maytals’ “Festival Song (Bam Bam),” Chaka Khan’s “I Know You, I Live You,” and Stevie Wonder’s “If You Really Love Me.” A classic break record, Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican” also gets redone.
The M19s Band extends the ’70s break that is infused with the sound of Plena drums. With vocals from Latin Grammy winner Mireya Ramos. They also replace the sound of a riffing guitar with Ms. Ramos’ violin while commanding attention from the listener. Stretch and Bob’ also decided to revise some of the original lyrics to bring awareness to what is currently happening at the US’s southern border. The music video also addresses this.
Bobbito directs with shared footage of asylum seekers from the duo’s former roommate, Nick Quested’s upcoming documentary So Far From God. The viewer gets an up-close and personal glimpse of what many are dealing with. Sharing this imagery with the message that is echoing through the verses of “The Mexican” is one of the ways of showing support to immigration rights. Bobbito also reached out to his universal network of B-Boys and B-Girls around the world, including Dynamic Spinners, Time 2 Rock, and the Rock Steady Crew. There are even Plena dancers from El Bario rocking to the percussion, drums, and bass.
Press photo provided by Donovan PR.
#BonusBeat: Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito discuss No Requests with Sway In The Morning: