Stretch (rapper)

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Stretch
Stretch (rapper).jpg
Stretch in 1993
Background information
Birth nameRandy Walker
Born(1968-04-08)April 8, 1968
Queens, New York, U.S.
DiedNovember 30, 1995(1995-11-30) (aged 27)
Queens Village, Queens, New York, U.S.
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)Rapper, hip hop producer, actor
Years active1988–1995
LabelsTommy Boy, Grand Imperial
Associated actsLive Squad, Digital Underground, 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Thug Life, Nas

Randy Walker (April 8, 1968 – November 30, 1995), better known by his stage name Stretch, was an American rapper and record producer who was a close friend and collaborator of Tupac Shakur. A member of the Live Squad with his brother Majesty, the group was notable for their early recordings with Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. until the 1994 attack on Shakur at Quad Recording Studios resulted in a highly publicised falling out. On November 30, 1995, Stretch was the first of the three former friends to be murdered.

Biography[edit]

Live Squad[edit]

Randy Walker was born in 1968 in Springfield Gardens, Queens to an American father and a newly-immigrated Jamaican mother. After his father died in 1981, his mother, Lucilda, worked as a nurse at New York University Medical Center to support him, his younger brother and two sisters.[1] Randy and his brother Christopher began rapping and producing as Stretch and Majesty in the late 1980s, and together with DJ K-Low founded the hip hop group Live Squad. Live Squad debuted in 1988 with the self-produced tracks "Troopin It" and "We Ain't Havin' It" on BQ In Full Effect, a limited 12" EP featuring Percee P. With his unmistakable deep and raspy voice, Stretch made a compelling rapper in addition to producer.

In 1990, Stretch met Shock G of Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground, making a guest appearance on "Family of the Underground" from their 1991 album Sons Of The P and a Live Squad produced remix for their single "No Nose Job" that same year. In the summer of 1991, Stretch met Digital Underground affiliate Tupac Shakur and the two made fast friends, becoming nearly inseparable.

Stretch and Tupac's friendship developed while filming Juice – Tupac was starring in what would be his breakout role, 'Bishop', and Stretch was an extra alongside Treach from Naughty By Nature – when Tupac's trailer was robbed of some jewelry, they had to deliver a swift beatdown on set. [2] The two would begin to make studio recordings, live performances and televised appearances together: Stretch produced and rapped on two songs from 2Pac's late 1991 debut album 2Pacalypse Now (including "Crooked Ass Nigga", where they displayed "effortless chemistry with one another, resulting in one of the [album's] sleeper cuts") and backed Tupac on an episode of Yo! MTV Raps to perform his single, "If My Homie Calls". During Juice's production Tupac couldn't even get a song on the soundtrack,[3] and his first album was only a modest success[4] – but once the film was released in the beginning of 1992, Tupac's star was on the rise.

Stretch was also close friends with Ed Lover, host of Yo! MTV Raps, who helped get Live Squad signed to Tommy Boy Records by recommending their demo tape and 'executive producing' their early releases.[1] The group released the double A-side single Murderahh!/Heartless (1992) and the promo single "Game Of Survival / Pump For A Livin'" (1993), as well as an ultra-violent VHS promo mini-movie called Game Of Survival which was a showcase for 6 songs from their forthcoming album. Due to the movie's graphic nature and Live Squad's hardcore style, all while the backlash from Ice-T and Body Count's "Cop Killer" continued against rap music, Tommy Boy were forced to drop them from their radio-friendly roster and the album was shelved.

For 2Pac's 1993 sophomore album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., Live Squad featured on and produced "Strugglin'" and joined in on the posse cut "5 Deadly Venoms". Stretch produced two additional tracks on the album including the lead single and album opener, "Holler If Ya Hear Me". Stretch continued to make cameo appearances in his friends' movies: in the Tupac-directed music video for Mac Mall's "Ghetto Theme" (1992); Above The Law, Money B and Tupac's "Call It What You Want" (1993); Ed Lover & Doctor Dre's Who's the Man? (1993); and Tupac's Bullet, filmed in 1994.[5]

Thug Life[edit]

In March 1994, the 2Pac and Stretch song "Pain" was featured in the film Above The Rim and performed by the duo on The Arsenio Hall Show, however it was only released as a B-side and on the cassette edition of the soundtrack; despite its rarity, the song has become a hip-hop classic. This would not be the only collaboration between the two to see limited release. Back in 1992, Tupac and Stretch recorded the unreleased track "Thug Life" with rapper Big Syke,[6] and in 1993, Tupac expanded the group and signed them to Interscope Records for their only album, 1994's Thug Life: Volume 1. Stretch contributed raps and beats to the album, many of them co-produced with Tupac as 'Thug Music', including the lead single "Bury Me A G". As criticism of gangsta rap continued, songs were cut from the album by the label, including the planned first single "Out On Bail", which Tupac performed with Stretch at The '94 Source Awards, and the Notorious B.I.G. collaboration "Runnin' from tha Police". Tupac had met the promising young rapper in 1993 and took him under his wing, even making him a prospective member of Thug Life.[7] Live Squad, 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. had performed a joint set together at Maryland's Bowie State High School in 1993[8] and collaborated on the unreleased track "House Of Pain", intended for Biggie's 1994 debut album Ready to Die. The friendship between the three rappers, however, would soon be irrevocably damaged.

On the night of November 30, 1994, Stretch was with Tupac when he was attacked at Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan. Tupac had been hired by drug dealer and fledgling music manager Jimmy Henchman to record a feature for his artist Lil' Shawn's single "Dom Perignon", and Tupac, unsure of the situation, went to the studio with Stretch and two others. Upon arrival they saw Lil' Cease and the Bad Boy camp, associates of The Notorious B.I.G., as the rapper was also there recording for the song and their tensions were eased – but entering the building lobby they were held at gunpoint by three men and Tupac was robbed, shot and beaten.[1] Stretch and Biggie went to the hospital to visit Tupac, but were unable to see him as he was in surgery. Shakur stated that he believed the robbery to be a cover for the attack,[9] and began to openly speculate that Henchman, Biggie, and the others may have been involved.[10][11]

Stretch and Tupac were still friends when Tupac was sent to jail on February 14, 1995 for sexual assault charges, but their friendship quickly deteriorated after he learned that Stretch was still doing shows with The Notorious B.I.G. even though he had accused the rapper of being involved in his shooting. In a jailhouse interview with VIBE Magazine, Tupac insinuated Stretch, an imposing figure at 6'8",[1] should have done more to help him and was surprisingly out of harm's way: "I was, like, 'What should I do?' I’m thinking Stretch is going to fight; he was towering over those niggas. From what I know about the criminal element, if niggas come to rob you, they always hit the big nigga first. But they didn’t touch Stretch; they came straight to me."[10][11] By the time Me Against The World was released a month later, Stretch had been removed from the single "So Many Tears". In one of Tupac's letters from jail, he listed all of his enemies with their names crossed out – with Stretch's name last.

Stretch was my closest dog, my closest homie. I did a lot of drama, I got into a lot of cases and shit because of Stretch. Money wise, he could've had anything. His daughter was my daughter, whatever she wanted she could have. Then this shit happened and the nigga didn't ride for me. He didn't do what your dog is supposed to do when you shot up. When I was in jail, nigga never wrote me, never got at me. His homeboys was coming to see me and he wasn't coming to see me. And he started hangin' around Biggie right after this. I'm in jail, shot up, his main dog and he hangin' out going to shows with Biggie. Both these niggas never came to see me.[10]

— Tupac Shakur, VIBE Magazine, April 1995

Stretch responded in his own interview with VIBE: "Pac's saying all this shit in the interview, like, 'I thought that Stretch was gonna fight. He was towering over them.' Now, that nigga know I ain't never going out like no bitch. But I ain't dumb. I ain't got no gun, what the fuck am I supposed to do? I might be towering over niggas, but I ain't towerin' over no slugs." He also questioned Tupac's account of events, and hinted that his gunshot wound may have been self-inflicted, something suggested by forensic reports: "Me personally, I only heard one shot. ... Tupac got shot trying to go for his shit. He tried to go for his gun, and he made a mistake on his own. But I'll let him tell the world that. ... He tried to turn around and pull the joint out real quick, but niggas caught him. Grabbed his hand when it was by his waist."[12][7][13]

There was never any evidence to suggest Stretch was involved with the robbery. Bill Courtney, a retired NYPD cop from the infamous "Hip-Hop Squad", believed the stick-up was a response to comments Tupac had made in the New York Daily News[14] against an associate of Jimmy Henchman, Haitian Jack: "A message was being sent to him not to name-drop." Jimmy Henchman has since admitted to orchestrating the shooting: "Nobody came to rob you. They came to discipline you."[7][15][11]

Me and Pac have been down from day one. Before he did Juice, before his first album. That's my man. So the interview he did in VIBE bugged me out. But I know him. He likes to talk a lot. Especially when he's upset, he'll say shit that he won't even mean. And then he'll think about it later and be, like, "Damn, why the fuck did I say that?" ... In that interview, Pac was talking all that shit about Thug Life is ignorance and telling niggas' names and all that shit. I don't even understand why he went there. I've seen Pac mad times after the shooting and he never kicked none of that shit to me. You know how he feels about the media, so why would he go and do an interview like that? He's supposed to be a street nigga; he should've kept it in the street. I mean, niggas had to go and get their names changed. I want him to get a reality check. Recognize what the fuck he's doing. Niggas on the street live by rules, man. And that rule right there, that's a rule that's never to be broken.[12][7]

— Randy "Stretch" Walker, VIBE Magazine, 1995

Ed Lover spoke to the New York Times about the falling out: "Tupac made disparaging remarks about him in VIBE Magazine and it really hurt his feelings a lot. I think – just my opinion – after Tupac got shot, I just think that Tupac just kind of turned against everybody."[1]

The incriminations against Stretch continued once Tupac was released from federal custody to Death Row Records on October 12, 1995 and began a flurry of recordings for his 1996 album, All Eyez on Me; on "Ambitionz Az a Ridah": "Had bitch-ass niggas on my team / So, indeed, they wet me up,"[11] and in the first verse of "Holla At Me": "When me and you was homies / No one informed me it was all a scheme / You infiltrated my team and sold a nigga dreams / How could you do me like that? / I took ya family in / I put some cash in ya pocket / Made you a man again ... You're a shell of a man / I lost respect for you nigga / We can never be friends / I know I'm runnin' through your head now / What could you do? / If it was up to you / I'd be dead now / I let the world know nigga you a coward / You could never be Live / Until you die / See the motherfuckin' bitch in your eye."

Nas, who enlisted Live Squad to contribute beats for his sophomore album It Was Written in November 1995, later recollected the situation: "I met Stretch by some dangerous cats that I was hanging with. They put me with Stretch who they were cool with. Stretch became my brother immediately. He wasn’t really recognized for the great work he was doing with Tupac and the hardcore records he did with his own group Live Squad with his brother Majesty. ... Stretch was really hurt by Tupac. I would hear him talking about how Pac was so mad at him because Stretch was with Tupac when he got set up and robbed in the studio lobby. Tupac was mad at everyone after that. I felt bad for Stretch because he really had a lot of love for Pac and he couldn’t believe that Pac thought he had something to do with it. [After the recording session,] Stretch dropped me off at home and went home and he was killed. That was a real great guy. He produced "Take It In Blood" and "Silent Murder" – the irony. It was just a messed up moment for me. It was the last work he did. Very sad."[16][11]

Murder[edit]

On November 30, 1995, Stretch was murdered in a drive-by shooting exactly one year after the Quad Studio shooting, fuelling rumors. After a midnight Live Squad studio session with Nas and on his way to an event to see Biggie, Stretch dropped off his brother, Majesty, at his Queens Village home when two or three men pulled up in a black car alongside his green minivan and began chase, shooting at Stretch while driving. Stretch's minivan came to a crashing stop at the corner of 112th Avenue & 209th Street just after 12:30 A.M., and he was found dead with four bullet wounds in his back.[1] He was 27.

Tupac denied involvement with Stretch's murder, but continued to talk about him after death, even up to his own death on September 13, 1996. All Eyez On Me was released two months after Stretch's death with all disses intact, and the follow-up The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996) contained more allusions to Stretch's supposed role in the 1994 attack on the tell-all diss track "Against All Odds": "And that nigga that was down for me, restin' dead / Switch sides, guess his new friends wanted him dead". Closing the final Tupac album, that track also fired shots at the Bad Boy camp and Nas – artists that he felt Stretch had switched allegiance to. Tupac did make peace with Nas in New York's Bryant Park on September 4, 1996, and even listened to It Was Written – featuring the Live Squad productions "Take It In Blood" and "Silent Murder" – as he made his fateful trip to Las Vegas for the Tyson-Seldon fight three days later. According to label boss Suge Knight, Tupac intended to remove the Nas disses from the Makaveli album but died before he could do so – there are no accounts if he resolved his feelings for his former friend.

Another theory for the murder would later emerge: "Stretch had robbed a big drug dealer of over 10 bricks [kilograms of cocaine]. There was pressure on the street for him to give those drugs back. And when he didn't, a hit was issued."[17] In April 2007, as part of a separate investigation into the murder of legendary DJ and fellow Jamaica, Queens, native Jam Master Jay, federal prosecutors named Ronald "Tenad" Washington as a suspect in both murders.[18]

With both men dead, Stretch would appear on the posthumous 2Pac releases R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (1997), with the Live Squad production "Nothing To Lose", and Greatest Hits (1998), featuring the cryptic "God Bless The Dead" (dedicated to a Live Squad and Thug Life affiliate named "Biggy Smallz" that is not The Notorious B.I.G. nor a Latino rapper produced by frequent Tupac producer Johnny J).[19] In 1999, a promo release for The Notorious B.I.G.'s own posthumous album Born Again featured a Bad Boy remix of "House Of Pain" featuring both Stretch and 2Pac. Stretch's brother Majesty would go on to co-found the record label Grand Imperial Records – with rapper E-MoneyBags, himself slain in 2004 under the alleged order of Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, the suspected boss behind the murder of Jam Master Jay[20] – and continued to release music by Live Squad and Stretch, including in 2001 their unreleased album for Tommy Boy Records, Game Of Survival.

Discography[edit]

Year Song Artist(s) Album
1988 "Troopin' It" Live Squad BQ In Full Effect Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
"We Ain't Have It"
1991 "Family of the Underground" Digital Underground Sons of the P Rapper
"No Nose Job (Fat Bass International Mix)" Digital Underground No Nose Job (Single) Co-producer (with Live Squad)
"Crooked Ass Nigga" 2Pac 2Pacalypse Now Rapper and producer
"Tha' Lunatic" Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
1992 "Murderahh" Live Squad Murderahh / Heartless (Single) Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
"Heartless" Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
"Pass The 40" Raw Fusion, 2Pac, D The Poet 151, Bulldog, Saafir, Pee-Wee, Mac Mone Hollywood Records Sampler Rapper
"Roses (Live Squad Remix)" Rhythm-N-Bass Roses (Single) Co-producer (with Live Squad)
1993 "Holler If Ya Hear Me'" 2Pac Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. Producer
"Strugglin'" 2Pac, Live Squad Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
"The Streets R Death Row'" 2Pac Producer
"5 Deadly Venomz" 2Pac, Live Squad, Treach & Apache Rapper and producer
"Holler If Ya Hear Me (Black Caesar Mix)'" 2Pac Holler If Ya Hear Me (Single) Producer
"Holler If Ya Hear Me (Broadway Mix)'" Producer
"Holler If Ya Hear Me (New York Stretch Mix)'" Producer
"Flex'" 2Pac, Live Squad Rapper and producer
"Hellrazor" 2Pac, Stretch Hellrazor (Promo Cassette) Rapper and producer
"Game Of Survival" Live Squad Game Of Survival / Pump For A Livin' (Promo Single) Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
"Pump For A Livin'" Rapper and co-producer (with Live Squad)
"Hurts The Most" 2Pac, Mopreme & Stretch (Unreleased) Rapper and producer
1994 "Papa'z Song (Da Bastard's Remix)" 2Pac, Stretch Papa'z Song (Single) Rapper and producer
"Pain" 2Pac, Stretch Above The Rim – The Soundtrack (Cassette only) Rapper and producer
"Bury Me A G" Thug Life Thug Life: Volume 1 Co-producer (with 2Pac as Thug Music)
"Shit Don't Stop" Co-producer (with 2Pac as Thug Music)
"Stay True" Rapper and co-producer (with 2Pac as Thug Music)
"Under Pressure" Rapper and co-producer (with 2Pac as Thug Music)
"Street Fame" Producer
1995 "Runnin' From tha Police" The Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Dramacydal, Buju Banton One Million Strong Rapper
"So Many Tears" 2Pac Me Against The World Backing vocals (verse removed)
1996 "Take It In Blood" Nas It Was Written Co-producer (with Live Squad)
"Silent Murder" Co-producer (with Live Squad)
1997 "Hellrazor" 2Pac, Stretch, Val Young R U Still Down? (Remember Me) Rapper (original producer)
"Nothin' To Lose" 2Pac Co-producer (with 2Pac & Live Squad)
"Hold On, Be Strong" 2Pac, Stretch Rapper
"Only Fear Of Death" 2Pac Co-producer (with Live Squad)
1998 "God Bless the Dead" 2Pac, Stretch Greatest Hits Rapper
1999 "House Of Pain (Bad Boy Remix)" The Notorious B.I.G., Stretch, 2Pac, Joe Hooker Born Again Promo Rapper
"What You Need" E-MoneyBags, Live Squad In E-MoneyBags We Trust Vocal appearance
2001 "Big Time" E-MoneyBags, Live Squad, 2Pac Regulate / Big Time (Single) Rapper
Game Of Survival: The Movie Live Squad Game Of Survival: The Movie Rapper and co-producer
2005 "Moving Up" Live Squad Thugadons: Grand Goons Vol. 1 Rapper
"Nobody Move" Live Squad Thugadons: Grand Goons Vol. 2 Rapper
"Life So Hard On A G" 2Pac The Way He Wanted It Vol. 1 Producer
2007 "Shedding More Tearz" 2Pac The Way He Wanted It Vol. 3 Rapper
"The House of Pain" 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G. Rapper

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Charisse (1 December 1995). "Rapper Slain After Chase in Queens". nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  2. ^ "How Tupac Dealt With A Jewelry Thief On The Set Of "Juice"". vibe.com. VIBE. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  3. ^ Murphy, Keith (16 January 2014). "Oral History: Tupac, Fist Fights and the Making of 'Juice'". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  4. ^ Preezy, Brown (12 November 2016). "How '2Pacalypse Now' Marked The Birth Of A Rap Revolutionary". vibe.com. VIBE. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Stretch filmography at IMDb". imdb.com. IMDb. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  6. ^ Big Syke bio at Allmusic
  7. ^ a b c d Westhoff, Ben (12 September 2016). "How Tupac and Biggie Went from Friends to Deadly Rivals". vice.com. VICE. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  8. ^ "2Pac, Live Squad & The Notorious B.I.G. – 1993 Live In Maryland". YouTube. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  9. ^ Philips, Chuck (1 December 1995). "Tupac Interview 1995 recording". Chuck Philips Post. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Powell, Kevin (April 1995). "Tupac Interview for VIBE Magazine". vibe.com. VIBE.
  11. ^ a b c d e Rodriguez, Jason (12 September 2016). "Pit Of Snakes: Tupac's Quad Studios Shooting". xxl.com. XXL. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Stretch Interview for VIBE Magazine". vibe.com. VIBE. 1995.
  13. ^ Scott, Cathy. The Killing of Tupac Shakur. Huffington Press. p. 149. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  14. ^ Benza, A.J. (6 January 1997). "Two Smalls-Minded Women". nydailynews.com. New York Daily News. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  15. ^ Philips, Chuck (12 June 2012). "James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond Implicated Himself in 1994 Tupac Shakur Attack: Court Testimony". villagevoice.com. The Village Voice. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  16. ^ Ahmed, Insanul (29 June 2012). "The Making of Nas' "It Was Written"". complex. Complex. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  17. ^ Strong, Nolan (18 April 2007). "Sources: Death Of Stretch Walker No Accident, Drug Hit". allhiphop.com. AllHipHop.com. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  18. ^ Suspect named in '02 slaying of Jam Master Jay
  19. ^ "Would the real Biggie Smalls please stand up?". 33jones.com. 33jones. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Two Charged In E-Money Bags Slaying". allhiphop.com. Billboard. Associated Press. 19 November 2004. Retrieved 9 April 2016.

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