Biography, radio show and hip-hop anthology, documentary Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives chronicles the impact of duo Bobbito Garcia and DJ Stretch Armstrong on the music industry.
Heralding their long-running show and the artists who premiered on their watch, collectively selling 300 million albums worldwide, the pair gave many popular acts their big break, introducing to the world to now household names including Biggie and Wu-Tang.
Directed by Bobbito, the conversational style of the documentary is refreshing, with the pair interviewing famous personalities and collaborators themselves. Rather than leaving these duties to someone a little more removed, the candid, heartfelt nature of the exchanges help set the documentary apart from others of its kind; and combined with archive footage of the team in their heyday paint a picture of the formative years of the hip-hop genre.
Most interesting of all, interviews with Jay Z and Eminem highlight the impact of the radio show on their careers and the evolution of popular music, and are revealing and compelling, though come all too late in the piece for the uninitiated.
Stretch and Bobbito presumes a readily informed knowledge of hip-hop, the music referenced in the film and the radio show itself; launching unfamiliar viewers into their world which takes for granted the impact of the pair on the style’s formation, only later properly covering details of the duo’s influence through interviews and commentary from industry trailblazers.
The third act briefly chronicles the pair’s strained dynamics and latter stages of their partnership, though the film mainly consists of a who’s-who of hip-hop and is most entertaining during these interviews and revisiting some of the more vibrant instalments of the show.
Feeling in parts like you’re in a studio-audience for an extended edition of an already established and popular radio program, this aspect of the documentary is never teased out in full and will leave fans wanting; disjointedly covering elements of the pair in their prime but never resting on one moment or milestone long enough to really explore it in detail. Fun for fans of the show and genre and somewhat inaccessible for the uninitiated, Stretch and Bobbito is nevertheless a solid crash-course through an iconic era of hip-hop.