Do your Googles; Stretch Armstrong is one of the preeminent music figures when you are talking about 1990’s New York Hip-Hop. The legendary DJ details his club experience during the golden era in his new book No Sleep: NYC Nightlife Flyers 1988-1999.
In a collaboration with Evan Auerbach, No Sleep is a visual history of club life told via event fliers spanning from 1988 to 1999.
Instead of conducting a standard interview with Hypebeast to promote the book, Stretch gave a detailed and very interesting account of what nightclubs shaped him early on.
On Nell’s (Club where Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” video was shot):
I remember the night that we were treated to a highly-anticipated musical offering from Public Enemy. Everyone was dying to know how and if they could top “Rebel Without a Pause.” One night in ’88, to a packed house, Russell Simmons walks up to Frankie [Inglese] and hands him two test pressings, white label with the iconic Def Jam logo. Within minutes, Frankie threw the record on. It was “Don’t Believe the Hype,” and the energy on the dance floor jumped up, hearing Chuck’s commanding voice over that half-familiar and half-strange music put together by the Bomb Squad. Outside of the group and label, we were the first people in the world to hear that record.
On BLDG AKA The Building:
The Building was where Clark Kent and Kid Capri reigned supreme. I have too many memories of both of them absolutely murdering that club. Set in a former power plant, BLDG was one cavernous brick structure that, as a club, was one room with ceilings that was at least twelve meters tall – a massive room that echoed unless it was full with people to absorb the sound waves. The dance floor would become a sea of people moving in unison and it was not uncommon to see the likes of Naomi Campbell, Mike Tyson, rappers like Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes, hanging out on the regular.
On DJ Red Alert’s influence on Reggae music:
It would be a mistake to not acknowledge Red Alert as the one who really made dancehall popular in the NYC hip-hop scene, largely a result of his starting his Friday and Saturday mix show on KISS-FM with the latest hits coming out of Jamaica at a time when Shabba Ranks’ name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
You can read the feature in it’s entirety here. No Sleep: NYC Nightlife Flyers 1988-1999 is available now. Also if you haven’t seen the Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives documentary you are officially losing at life.