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Rap DJ goes electro!

One of the giants behind the scenes in hip-hop, NYC based <B>Stretch Armstrong</B> is a living legend.

With the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito radio show in the early nineties, he was responsible for breaking many of the genre's biggest stars: the Notorious B.I.G. (or Biggie Smalls) got his break freestyling on the programme. Nas, Wu-Tang, Big Daddy Kane and Mobb Deep all appeared on the show.

Having dabbled with hip hop production, he's recently turned his attention towards electro house, with a wicked, grinding remix of Armand Van Helden's 'Touch Your Toes'. We had a chat with Stretch to get the low down on his change of direction…

How and why did you get involved in playing/producing electro house?

"I've never not been a fan of dance music. Because I was too young to go to clubs, my love of hip-hop started via records and tapes, but as soon as I was old enough, I found out that hip-hop was dance music as well (and so much more). Of course, once I stepped into the club, a love affair with all kinds of music began. I've always been obsessed with records and music, across the board. As far as electro house is concerned, I'm feeling the obnoxiousness of the sound; it's almost more punk than anything else. I am also very into what the machines and software can do now, and in electro you get the freedom to fuck with sound in a way that isn't appropriate in hip-hop, which frankly seems rather tame and conservative.

Is hip-hop dead as Nas said?

"Depends who you ask. The question is more dead. I do have a throwback hip-hop blog though: konstantkontakt.blogspot.com. And I love the new Dizzee Rascal."

Do you think people will be confused by your change of genre? "It's a mildly annoying problem, but also fun to surprise people. And how boring is it to do the same thing over and over?"

Who are you feeling out there at the moment production wise?

"I love the French dudes - all the Ed Banger stuff, Surkin, Kavinsky. Switch is the man, and of course Sinden. ,a href="http://www.tittsworth.com>Tittsworth, A-Trak, Smalltown DJs, Junior Sanchez, The Glass, Arveene, Eli Escobar, Red Foxxworth, Krame, Radio Slave, DJ Tameil, Soulwax, Bladerunners, Crookers... I'm writing this on the subway, and these are just who comes to mind."

How do you rate the NYC club scene?

"Over the past two years some good developments have taken place. New venues and parties that were more music based started sprouting up. Most of the clubs in NYC are driven by selling tables and bottles and this has created a nightmare situation in which rich corny cunts spend mad loot to get a table in a club that they wouldn't have been able to get into 15 years ago. If I sound like a snob, I'm not - this has nothing to do with the democratization of clubbing. It means that rich men get tables, and that creates a club clientele that knows nothing about music. And any DJ with a brain and taste has a very hard time in this environment. But places like Studio B have emerged, bringing in a consistent line-up of DJs and performers from all over. My one gripe with NYC is that at many of the better nights, many of the promoters, with the convenience of Serato and CDs, have become the DJs; and the DJs they hire tend to be out of towners. There is less local support. Ideally, the local promoters should be promoting the local DJs that are the real thing. NYC is a bit competitive like that, and it seems more unified and supportive in Paris or London. Of course, the grass just may be greener."

What's next for Stretch Armstrong?

"I'm just following my ears, staying as active as possible in the clubs and making music that I respect and like."