Today, Houston legend and inventor of the “Chopped and Screwed” technique DJ Screw would have been 40 years old today if not for his tragic passing in November of 2000. The beloved DJ, nicknamed “The Originator” for inventing the “screw” sound, achieved posthumous fame after Houston’s rap scene began to flourish shortly after his death. With over 240 “chapters” of his infamous “screw-tapes” made available after his passing, DJ Screw and his lasting legacy continues to grow and expanding far beyond regional fame.
The reportedly reclusive disc jockey born Robert Earl Davis shied away from the spotlight, opting to work behind the scenes and crafting his sound. Forming the Screwed Up Click in the early 90s, Screw would work with future notables such as Lil Flip, Lil’ Keke, Big Hawk, Z-RO and Fat Pat. With several other members of the Click, Screw would craft his “screw-tapes” featuring the crew with much of the team’s success happening within Houston. Acts such as South Park Mexican and legendary duo UGK are counted as close affiliates of DJ Screw and his extended family.
Many rappers outside of Houston have borrowed the “Chopped and Screwed” sound with Odd Future’s Tyler The Creator employing the sound several times over the course of his crew’s young career. Singer T-Pain even had a Ludacris-assisted single titled “Chopped and Screwed” and many mixtapes and street albums such as Dom Kennedy’s The Original Dom Kennedy release and Kendrick Lamar’s (O)verly (D)edicated got the “screw” sound treatment. Houston label Swishahouse founders DJ Michael “5000” Watts and OG Ron C also continue to keep the “screw sound alive on regionally and nationally released mixtapes as well.
DJ Screw passed away due to complications arising from codeine overdose along with other drugs mixed into his system. Screw died on November 16 amid swirling controversies about the cause of his death.
We salute DJ Screw and wish him a happy birthday. Rest In Peace, DJ Screw.
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