Stretch (rapper)

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Stretch
Stretch in 1993
Stretch in 1993
Background information
Birth nameRandy Walker
Born(1968-08-21)August 21, 1968
Springfield Gardens, 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, record producer
Years active1988–1995
LabelsTommy Boy, Grand Imperial
Associated actsLive Squad, Digital Underground, 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Thug Life, Nas

Randy Walker (August 21, 1968 – November 30, 1995), of the stage name Stretch, was an American rapper and record producer, working in Live Squad. In the early 1990s, he joined 2Pac's rap group Thug Life. The November 30, 1994, shooting of Shakur led to their split. On November 30, 1995, Stretch was fatally shot.

Live Squad[edit]

Randy Walker was born in 1968 in Springfield Gardens, Queens, to an American father and Jamaican, immigrant mother. Randy had a younger brother and two sisters. His father died in 1981, and his mother, Lucilda, was a nurse at New York University Medical Center.[1]

In the late 1980s, Randy, dubbed Stretch, and his brother Christopher, dubbed Majesty, teamed with DJ K-Low, forming Live Squad. In 1988, both rapping and producing it, Live Squad debut with an EP, titled BQ In Full Effect, which, featuring Percee P, includes the tracks "Troopin It" and "We Ain't Havin' It." Noteworthy is Stretch's voice, deep and raspy.

In 1990, Stretch met Shock G of Digital Underground, the Bay Area rap group's 1991 album featured Stretch on its track "Family of the Underground." That year, Live Squad remixed the group's single "No Nose Job." That summer, Stretch met Underground ally Tupac "2Pac" Shakur. The two became fast friends. Rapping his February 1992 single "If My Homie Calls" on Yo! MTV Raps, 2Pac was backed by Stretch, friend of host Ed Lover, who, praising Live Squad's demo tape and taking "executive producer" credit on its releases, helped Live get signed to Tommy Boy Records.[1]

In 1992, Live Squad released a double A side, "Murderahh!"/"Heartless," followed by single, "Game of Survival"/"Pump for a Livin'," in 1993. Live Squad also released an ultra-violent promo short film, Game Of Survival, on VHS tape, showcasing six songs from through group's forthcoming album. But in June, national outrage had broken out over the Los Angeles area's original gangsta rapper Ice-T's side project, his rock band Body Count's album of heavy metal with its track "Cop Killer." Tommy Boy, favoring radio friendliness, dropped Live Squad and shelved the album.

Teaming with 2Pac[edit]

While Tupac filmed his breakthrough role in Juice, Stretch and Treach, of rap group Naughty By Nature, were extras. Once Tupac's trailer was robbed of jewelry, they delivered a beatdown on set.[2] In late 1991, after studio recordings, live shows, and TV appearances with Stretch, 2Pac put out his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, with two tracks, including "Crooked Ass Nigga," where Stretch produces and raps.

Recently unable to put a track on Juice's soundtrack,[3] 2Pac saw his album sell modestly,[4] but Juice's release in 1992 sent his star on the rise. In 1993, 2Pac's second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., found Live Squad producing and featured on "Strugglin'," while featured, along with Treach and rapper Apache, on "5 Deadly Venomz." That was produced by Stretch, who produced two more tracks, "The Streetz R Deathrow" and, featuring Live Squad, "Holler If Ya Hear Me."

Stretch made cameo appearances in music videos for the Mac Mall song "Ghetto Theme," directed by Tupac, and, in 1993, for the Above The Law, Money B, and Tupac song "Call It What You Want," as well as in movies, Ed Lover & Doctor Dre's 1993 film Who's the Man? and Tupac's 1996 film Bullet.[5] In March 1994, on The Arsenio Hall Show, 2Pac and Stretch performed "Pain," a track on the Above the Rim soundtrack's only cassette version and merely a single's B side, but swiftly a rap favorite.

2Pac's group Thug Life[edit]

In 1992, with rapper Big Syke, 2Pac and Stretch recorded "Thug Life."[6] In 1993, that song still unreleased, Tupac expanded the group, named Thug Life, and got it on Interscope Records, releasing in 1994 the group's only album, Thug Life: Volume 1. Here, Stretch produces and raps on "Thug Music" and the lead single, "Bury Me a G." Amid controversy over lyrics, the label cut "Out on Bail", which Tupac and Stretch performed at The '94 Source Awards, anyway, and "Runnin' from tha Police", featuring Biggie Smalls.[7]

In 1993, Tupac had met Biggie, a promising young rapper from Brooklyn, on his visit to California, whereupon Tupac supported and mentored him, a prospective member of Thug Life.[8] During 1993, Live Squad, 2Pac, and Biggie performed a joint set at Maryland's Bowie State University, in Prince George’s County, Maryland.[9] and recorded "House Of Pain," unreleased, for Biggie's debut album in the making. Biggie's debut album would arrive, without the song, in 1994 as Ready to Die. But the alliance would be severed through events on the night of November 30, 1994, at the Times Square building of Quad Recording Studios.

November 1994 shooting[edit]

In late 1994, Tupac was reportedly hired by fledgling music manager James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond to record a verse for rapper Lil' Shawn's single "Dom Perignon." Arriving with Stretch and two others, they reportedly found rapper Lil' Cease—a member of the Bad Boy record label's circle via Biggie's side group Junior M.A.F.I.A.—watching the sidewalk from above and greeting them. But in the lobby, three men pulled pistols to rob Tupac, who, resisting, was shot five times.[1] Suspecting shooting as the primary motive,[10] Tupac pointed to, among others, Henchman and Biggie.[11][12] Blaming Henchman for the setup, Tupac accused Biggie of withholding prior knowledge.

The very day after the shooting, Tupac was convicted, in a Manhattan court, of sexual assault. And on February 14, 1995, he was sentenced to at least a year and a half in prison. In March, 2Pac's third album, Me Against the World, was released with Stretch removed from its track "So Many Tears." In a jailhouse interview published in April, Tupac discusses the November shooting and Stretch, incidentally 6'8":[1] "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."[11][12] In the interview, Tupac also reflects,

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 hanging around Biggie right after this. I'm in jail, shot up, his main dog, and he hanging out going to shows with Biggie. Both these niggas never came to see me.[11]

— Tupac Shakur, Vibe magazine, April 1995

No strong evidence emerged to implicate Stretch in the crime. Publicly responding, Stretch contends, "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 towering over no slugs." Meanwhile, some reporting would suggest forensics evidence that Tupac had shot himself. Stretch offers, "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."[8][13][14]

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.[13][8]

— Randy "Stretch" Walker, Vibe magazine, 1995

Bill Courtney, retired New York Police Department officer, once with its infamous "Hip-Hop Squad," suggests that the stickup answered Tupac's comments, published in New York's Daily News,[15] about Jimmy Henchman's associate Haitian Jack, big in the Queens nightlife scene and criminal underworld. Haitain Jack and two other men had been indicted with Tupac for the November 1993 sexual assault, on a woman in Tupac's hotel room, whereby Tupac was convicted on December 1, 1994. By then, Haitain Jack had taken a misdemeanor plea deal for no jail time, and the newspaper published Tupac's gripe. The onetime "Hip-Hop Squad" officer hazards, "A message was being sent to him not to name-drop." Jimmy Henchman has since commented, "Nobody came to rob you. They came to discipline you."[8][16]

On June 15, 2011, the day before what would have been Tupac's 40th birthday, Dexter Isaac, imprisoned for murder, sent from Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center to AllHipHop.com a confession.[12] Isaac stated that he had been one of the men who in November 1994 robbed and shot Tupac at Jimmy Henchman's behest.[12]

Stretch's murder[edit]

On October 21, 1995, with bond posted via Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, and pending appeal, Tupac was released from prison in upstate New York. Joining the label in Los Angeles, Tupac feverishly recorded his fourth album, All Eyez on Me. Two tracks, in particular—"Ambitionz Az a Ridah" as well as "Holla At Me"—have lyrics against Stretch, one envisioning his death.[17] But by the album's release on February 13, 1996, Stretch was already dead. Released a few months later, in July 1996, the sophomore album, It Was Written, by rapper Nas, from Queensbridge in Queens, would have Live Squad production on two tracks, "Take It In Blood" as well as "Silent Murder," from Stretch's final recording session exactly one year after the November 30, 1994, shooting of Tupac.[18]

On November 30, 1995, leaving the Nas recording session at midnight, Stretch on his way to a Biggie Smalls event, dropped off his own brother Majesty at his Queens Village home. Two or three men in a black car pulled up beside and chasing Stretch's green minivan, fired at it. Stretch crashed at 112th Avenue and 209th Street, just after 12:30 AM, and was found dead at the age of 27 via four bullets to his back.[1] In one theory, Stretch had robbed "a big drug dealer of over 10 bricks" and, despite the "pressure on the street," refused to return the over 10 kilograms of cocaine, why "a hit was issued."[19] In April 2007, via separate investigation into the murder of Jam Master Jay, legendary DJ of Run-DMC, in his native Jamaica, Queens, federal prosecutors named as a suspect in both murders one Ronald "Tenad" Washington.[20]

After Tupac's death by drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, in September 1996, a Live Squad production, the track "Nothing to Lose," would appear on the first posthumous 2Pac album, released in 1997, R U Still Down? (Remember Me). Released the next year, Greatest Hits has the cryptic "God Bless the Dead," dedicated to "Biggy Smallz," but not the famed Live Squad and onetime 2Pac associate Biggie Smalls who is otherwise called The Notorious B.I.G., and instead a Latino rapper who worked with one of 2Pac's main producers, Johnny J.[21] In 1999, a promotional release for The Notorious B.I.G.'s own posthumous album Born Again has a Bad Boy remix of "House of Pain," featuring Stretch and 2Pac. Stretch's brother Majesty would found Grand Imperial Records jointly with rapper E-MoneyBags, who would be slain in July 2001, allegedly by order of Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, a suspect behind the murder of Jam Master Jay.[22] In 2001, Majesty released the Live Squad album that Tommy Boy Records had nixed, 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) and Regulate (song) single (b-side) 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]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Jones, Charisse (1 December 1995). "Rapper Slain After Chase in Queens". nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "How Tupac Dealt With A Jewelry Thief On The Set Of "Juice"". vibe.com. VIBE. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Murphy, Keith (16 January 2014). "Oral History: Tupac, Fist Fights and the Making of 'Juice'". Retrieved 9 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Preezy, Brown (12 November 2016). "How '2Pacalypse Now' Marked The Birth Of A Rap Revolutionary". vibe.com. VIBE. Retrieved 9 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Stretch filmography at IMDb". imdb.com. IMDb. Retrieved 12 September 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Big Syke bio at Allmusic
  7. ^ Via trademark issues, Biggie would soon take another stage name, the Notorious B.I.G.
  8. ^ a b c d Westhoff, Ben (12 September 2016). "How Tupac and Biggie Went from Friends to Deadly Rivals". VICE. Retrieved 8 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "2Pac, Live Squad & The Notorious B.I.G. – 1993 Live In Maryland". YouTube. Retrieved 8 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Philips, Chuck (1 December 1995). "Tupac Interview 1995 recording". Chuck Philips Post. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ a b c Powell, Kevin (April 1995). "Tupac Interview for VIBE Magazine". VIBE.
  12. ^ a b c d Jason Rodriguez, "Pit of snakes", XXL magazine, Sep 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Stretch Interview for VIBE Magazine". VIBE. 1995.
  14. ^ Scott, Cathy (1997) [1st]. The Killing of Tupac Shakur. Huffington Press. p. 149. ISBN 9781935396543. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  15. ^ Benza, A.J. (6 January 1997). "Two Smalls-Minded Women". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 8 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Philips, Chuck (12 June 2012). "James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond Implicated Himself in 1994 Tupac Shakur Attack: Court Testimony". The Village Voice. Retrieved 8 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ In "Ambitionz Az a Ridah", 2Pac raps, "Had bitch-ass niggas on my team / So, indeed, they wet me up". And in his first verse in "Holla At Me", 2Pac raps, "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".
  18. ^ Nas recalls, "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" [Insanul Ahmed & Rob Kenner, "The making of Nas' 'It Was Written' ", Complex.com, Complex Music, 25 May 2012, archived from original on 29 Jun 2012].
  19. ^ Strong, Nolan (18 April 2007). "Sources: Death Of Stretch Walker No Accident, Drug Hit". allhiphop.com. AllHipHop.com. Retrieved 8 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Suspect named in '02 slaying of Jam Master Jay
  21. ^ "Would the real Biggie Smalls please stand up?". 33jones.com. 33jones. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ "Two Charged In E-Money Bags Slaying". allhiphop.com. Billboard. Associated Press. 19 November 2004. Retrieved 9 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]