Notorious B.I.G. may have been mourned with P. Diddy’s multiplatinum “I’ll Be Missing You” single, but the late DJ Screw is being remembered with an entire album that hit stores Tuesday.
The Screw Heads’ Forever & a Day is a 16-cut collection that pays homage to Screw, the influential Houston producer and remixer who died in November after overdosing on a mixture of codeine and drugs.
Lil’ Flip’s “Still Bangin’ Screw” and Lil’ Keke’s “Nothing But Love” will be the lead singles from the album, which also features appearances from such Screw collaborators as Yungstar, Big Pokey, the Botany Boys and ESG.
“Everyone featured on that record, I think, agrees that they either owe their careers, or a good part of them, to DJ Screw putting them on,” said Dave Weiner, senior vice president of urban music and distributed labels for JCOR Entertainment, which released the Screw Heads album. “It was important to all of them to express what Screw meant to them. We hoped to get the true love out of the artists on the record, which to me is a rare thing in hip-hop for people to really pour out their feelings and emotions on such a sensitive subject.”
DJ Screw was known for his “screwed” versions of popular songs, which would be slowed down using the pitch control feature of a turntable. He released hundreds of mixtapes regionally and showcased many of the artists featured on Forever & a Day on his tapes, which were hot commodities throughout the South.
Weiner, who in the 1990s worked at Priority Records — which signed distribution deals for Master P’s No Limit Records and others — offered DJ Screw a record deal in the mid-1990s. Screw, already an established and powerful member of Houston’s hip-hop scene, turned down the offer.
“It wasn’t about the money for him,” Weiner said. “It was about doing what he wanted to do with his homeboys. A lot of that meant other people’s music, and he knew that he couldn’t put out the tapes that he was ‘screwing’ on a national level through a major and do what his fans wanted him to do.”
Even though he never released material on a major label, Screw’s influence is evident throughout hip-hop. Last year, platinum act Three 6 Mafia released “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” a slowed-down track that gave a sonic nod to Screw’s relaxed sound and offered an insight to the “syrup” (the prescription-only codeine cough medicine Promethazine) many in the South use as a recreational drug.
“Screw sat on the throne, and he owned that market,” Weiner said. “His death was detrimental to the Southern market. At the same time, it’s giving a lot of other people the opportunity to shine based on the success that Screw gave them by opening the doors.”