First glances upon a DJ Screw mixtape produce hesitant opinions for Screw newcomers; is this amateur-looking,Texas-oriented photoshop collage going to be so cheesy that it’s good—like it’s cover—or is it just another record doomed to the “Hip-Hop Markdowns” section of the record store? Fortunately, neither of those answers are true. Robert Earl Davis Jr. a.k.a. DJ Screw, is something close to a deity in today’s beat-making world. Credited for the creation of ‘chopped and screwed’ production, DJ Screw put Houston, Texas on the hip-hop map, birthing a sound so badass that only a state as awesomely (and politely) chauvinistic as Texas could boast. His beats are slowed down to the max, the vocal samples are pitch-shifted to a barely comprehensible level of bass, sounding like an anti-gravity version of The Geto Boys. Screw’s legacy is obvious, Big K.R.I.T., UGK, Slim Thug, and just about any southern rap artist posses one aspect of Screw’s sound. Listening to a DJ Screw mixtape is something of a 90‘s time warp. You can just picture a group of good inner-city friends sitting on patio furniture in a dim-lit back yard drinking Bart Simpson-clad Budweisers, Tang and Vodka, smoking grape cigarillos, laughing about Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau’s latest collaboration, and listening to The Chronic. DJ Screw’s untimely death may have cut his legacy short but the guy must have been doing something right if Rick (fucking) Perry declared him a ‘Texas Music Pioneer.’ Rest in peace, Screw.
That Texas sound: