February 23, 2021

Stretch & Bobbito "February 23, 1995" (Big L & Jay-Z Freestyle)

Many came before them, but no show continued to entertain like Stretch & Bobbito. With raw underground flavor, guest freestyle MCs, and gut-busting humor, they controlled college radio and broke some of the most impactful artists of our generation. "Fuck Seinfeld, we all know who runs things on Thursday nights from sundown to sunup," said The Source in '98. Today marks 26 years since Big L and Jay-Z blessed the mic with their infamous freestyle session. I'm sure it was less remarkable to Stretch & Bobbito at the time, but it is now legendary as new generations of fans get hip to the archives of their shows, and as Jay-Z became arguably the greatest MC in hip-hop. Not to mention the untimely death of one of Harlem's greatest lyricists, Big L. Lines like, "The last thing you want with Big L is a fair one / 'Cause in a street brawl I strike men like lightnin' / You seen what happened in my last fight, friend? Aight then," from L and "Me and L put rhythm on the map, so give him his dap / And me, I just take mine / Gimme those, gimme this, gimme that—fuck that!" from Jay-Z, set the mood for the night. Jay-Z was virtually unknown and L's debut album Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous would drop a month later. Below is the full freestyle from the show (the extended 10-minute version), and below it is the second half of the show (2.5 hours long), which features Funkdoobiest, JuJu, and Gangsta Boogie. Dig into it below, and if you haven't already, hit up the archives for Stretch & Bobbito's recent release, "Freestyle EP," which includes a condensed version of the freestyle, as well as other rare 90s freestyle gems. Rest In Peace, Big L.