In addition to teaching the children of England the meaning of dope, Dan Love blogs at From Da Bricks.

Stretch Armstrong should need no introduction around these parts. As one half of New York’s most legendary hip hop radio team, the unlikely looking Adrian Bartos’ pseudonym will be indelibly associated with establishing the careers of most of your favourite rappers. However, what few people realise is that Stretch built up a modest yet well-executed catalogue of beats towards the tail end of hip hop’s infinitely lauded golden era, including work with Lil’ Kim on her full length debut and Shawn J. Period’s original crew Down South that you’d be remiss to overlook.

My hands down favourite Stretch production comes in the shape of his mix of Big Noyd’s ‘Usual Suspect,’ lifted from his ’96 solo drop Episodes Of A Hustla, an album that suffers from brevity, mediocrity and the towering shadow of the infinitely superior material put out by close affiliates Mobb Deep. Nice try, Mr Perry. Put these issues to one side though and there are a handful of enjoyable moments to savour for those who miss that gritty New York aesthetic and tangible Queen’s cadence on the mic. That’s everyone, right?

Sample fodder comes care of the late, great Mr Hayes and the third installment from his ‘Ike’s Rap’ series that like the majority of his work has been heavily dug (does the colloquial term for hunting down records even work in the past tense? Who knows). It’s a beautifully simple act of production on Stretch’s part, jacking the first couple of bars and pitching them up with absolutely nothing left out of the mix. You’d be forgiven for writing off Stretch’s innovation behind the boards in this instance if the end product wasn’t so uncontrollably bangin’, but since it is you can officially take your hatin’ elsewhere. Sucka. Crispy drums and occasional sample manipulations complete the picture and give Noyd the space he deserves to get busy. Who ever said this shit needed to get complicated?

Try listening to this without aggravating that pesky crick in your neck: consider that a dare of the double dog variety. Just be aware that any successful attempts touted in the comment section will be immediately discounted on the basis that you’re lying.

MP3:Big Noyd-“Usual Suspect (Stretch Armstrong Mix)”
MP3:Isaac Hayes-“Medley: Ike’s Rap III/Your Love is So Doggone Good”

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