Vibe Magazine sat down with legendary DJ’s and radio hosts, Bobbito Garcia and Strecth Armstrong to have their views on the legendary battle they hosted back in 1995 a battle between two of hip hop’s greatest. Jay-Z & Big L (RIP)
I’ll be honest with you, that night is not truly vivid in my head because at the moment it wasn’t really any different than the myriad of shows Stretch and I did over eight years. We had no idea Big L was going to be as exalted as he is now. We had no idea Jay-Z was going to be a platinum artist. In ’95, these dudes were just up-and-coming cats, no different than Kage or Pharoahe Monch.
We already had Nas on the show three times before Illmatic came out, Redman, Poetical Propets, who became Mobb Deep—so many cats who came up there unsigned that wound up changing the face of the rap industry. But there were enough people that came up and rocked it, that didn’t go anywhere. So we knew this has potential, but it wasn’t like, Oh my god, people are going to remember this freestyle for the next 15 years! It was more like, OK, I’m fucking tired, Stretch is fucking tired, it’s 2:30 a.m., we gotta rock ‘til 5 a.m., and we got two nasty motherfuckers.
I remember asking them, “Do you guys want to get on together?” Stretch and I would often ask two great artists that we thought could have a rhythm to get on. I’ve learned since that Jay and L had already known each other, and had battled in Harlem, so they already had a rapport, so I can’t really take credit for having them on the show together. I think L and Jay had a competition amongst themselves and amongst their crews, but it was never transparent or citywide-known. And on that night, they both had their own distinct styles and did their thing.