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Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito
89.9FM New York 11/11/93 featuring Kool Keith, O.C., Large Professor, and Monch
Vintage Radio from the Private Collection
If you counted yourself among hip-hop fanatics of high school age dwelling in the greater New York City metropolitan area circa 1993 then you may have passed your Friday morning classes submerged in R.E.M. cycle sleep. For years, heads relied on Stretch and Bobbito to bless the airwaves late on Thursday nights with exclusive vinyl-only gems while trading hilarious quips with the underground’s A-list of up and comers in between historical freestyle sessions. The release of mastered versions of choice installments of this show is no minor coup, as the number of rap careers that were essentially spearheaded on 89.9 FM is staggering and includes everyone from DMX to Godfather Don. The 11/11/93 edition of 89-Tec-9 does not disappoint as an unearthed time capsule, an expertly paced musical selection, or an eye-opening all-star cipher with an inclusive, rec-room feel. Stretch and Bobbito drop megaton after megaton of ‘93 flavor, from the jams of the moment (Hard 2 Obtain, “L.I. Groove”) to bizarre but funky rarities (Company Flow, “Juvenile Techniques”) to colossal future classics just on the come up (Jeru The Damaja, “Come Clean), as well as harder album cuts from beloved middlegrounders like Black Moon and Tribe. The freestyle/banter sessions are naturally the true highlight, and they are entirely worthy of repeated rewinds: Kool Keith’s scatlogical stream of consciousness, O.C.’s deft wordplay, and Monch’s torrential wreck all sound right at home over Large Professor’s live SP 1200 manipulation of the beats that were later used to back Tragedy on the remix of “Funk Mode” and Mad Skillz on “Skillz in ’95.” While this release may not be received as a sacred artifact by every citizen of today’s aesthetically diverse and very youthful hip hop nation, there are a few moments that one can only describe as magical. Towards the end of the show, just after Kool Keith proclaims the evening to be among the most “classicest” in history, Large Professor notes that every artist packed into the 89.9 FM studio came up in the game under the tutelage of the late great Paul C. In such instances, which came about regularly on the show, we are given a glimpse into our shared musical heritage and the unforgettable personalities who shaped the progression of the hip hop genre.