Retrospective: The Legacy of DJ Screw.


By @JustKels88

"Screw The Whole World"

Nearly fifteen years have passed since the untimely death of DJ Screw; in fact, next week marks the 15th anniversary. Robert Earl Davis Jr. is still and will forever be the most influential force in Houston’s music scene. DJ Screw had a creative vision so unique and so powerful that it has become timeless. Aside from the list of artists who owe (at least partially) the extent of their success to Screw, the entire music industry has incorporated the process of slowing down and chopping music whether in the production stages or in a club by a deejay. DJ Screw started a movement in Houston. If nothing else, Screw let the world know that this city houses an immense amount of talent and creative genius- if they can make it out alive.

The early 90’s found Houston’s rap industry in a heyday. DJ Screw had embarked on what is now his worldwide trademark of slowing popular music down and putting it on mixtapes. By 1994, DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click were making huge waves out of their small headquarters in South Park, Houston. People from all over were requesting personalized mixes from Screw, and the freestyles the SUC members recorded at the Screw Shop were being played all around the city. Big HAWK, Big Moe, Fat Pat, Big Pokey, E.S.G., Lil O, Lil Keke, Botany Boyz, Mike D, Kay-K and of course DJ Screw comprised the original Screwed Up Click. If you know anything about Houston music, that is a hell of a list. Eventually, the SUC grew to include the likes of Z-Ro, Trae, Big Mello, Yungstar, Lil Flip and more. Even a list of Screwed Up Affiliates include UGK, Lil Troy and even Devin the Dude. The list of artists who worked with and were influenced by DJ Screw would take days to compile and would honestly never be wholly inclusive.

On a personal note, I moved to Houston in 1995 and was initially confused as hell by screwed and chopped music. Why did it sound like my speakers were in pain? What was happening here? Why did I love it SO much? At 7, I had no idea who DJ Screw was or where the hell Southpark was, but I knew Houston was where I wanted to be and screw music would forever be a part of my life. Screw had me hollering R.I.P. Pat Lemmon like I knew the man.

We still pull the Lincoln down/Got to, baby/ Trunk wide open/We love you, baby.

Then, “Wineberry Over Gold” happened and probably changed my life. You couldn’t tell me shit about Houston rappers. Fat Pat could out rap anybody, anytime, and make it sound effortless. Keke, Pokey, Mike D, I could go on and on with the point being this- DJ Screw facilitated this undying love for my city’s music. DJ Screw envisioned something totally new that was much bigger than just himself. He took something that may not have looked like much from the outside and shined a light on how talented and important it was- then he gave it to the world.

It wasn’t just me. People everywhere loved what Screw, the SUC and all the other artists in the city who found their niche at the time were doing. For the first time, our artists were making money and making noise. Listen to June 27th, Pussy, Weed and Alcohol, Codeine Fien, Southside Still Holdin or any Screw Tape today, they are still amazing. This era was easily the best time ever for Houston’s hip-hop scene. Unfortunately, this time was also marked with excessive drug use, violence and death. Tragedy struck not long after I fell in love with Screw Tapes; Fat Pat was killed in 98. DJ Screw passed in 2000. The entire city grieved, hell the entire world did. Some people insinuated that Houston died with Screw. On the contrary, DJ Screw and his vision still bring life to the city, even in death. Pop music in Europe, soul music in South Africa, hip-hop in Australia and freestyling in basements in Houston, Texas- Screw touched all of that.

“I want to Screw the whole world.”

You did, Screw. We miss you. 



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