Published on December th, 2012

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We moved. New store location in Hiram Clarke.

Published on April th, 2012

Screwed Up Records & Tapes has moved. Check us out at our new location in Hiram Clarke.

3538 West Fuqua
Houston, TX 77045 [map]
ph: 713-434-2888

DJ Screw featured in Houston Hip Hop Collection at UH Library

Published on April th, 2012

Check out DJ Screw photos and memorabilia at the exhibit, “DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop”. The exhibit will run from March 19 – September 21, 2012 in the M.D. Anderson Library at the University of Houston. This is part of the new Houston Hip Hop Collection at UH Library.

This exhibition tells the story of DJ Screw and the S.U.C.. But it also explores the larger context of a music scene that has been independent, entrepreneurial, and rough-edged from its beginnings in the 1980s. From pioneers such as Geto Boys, K-Rino, and Street Military to more recent breakthrough artists such as Paul Wall, Z-Ro, and Chingo Bling, Houston hip hop has carved out its own distinctive path.

Although the exhibition will only be on display for six months, the materials on display are being preserved for future generations as part of the Houston Hip Hop collections at the University of Houston Libraries. These collections include the DJ Screw Papers, the DJ Screw Sound Recordings, the HAWK Papers, and the Pen and Pixel Graphics, Inc. Collection. In the future, once they have been cleaned, boxed, and cataloged, these rare materials will be available to scholars, students, and the general public by request in the Special Collections reading room.

If you are interested in donating material to the collection, please contact Julie Grob at Donations will not automatically be accepted, but will be evaluated for historical significance, condition, and storage requirements. More info:

The Fellas. Various members of the Young Screwed Up Click and friends are seen posing for a picture outside of an apartment complex on Houston's South Side.

These pictures and more can be found in the DJ Screw Photographs and Memorabilia collection at the UH Digital Library, as well as the “DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop” exhibit happening March 19 – September 21, 2012 at MD. Anderson Library. M.D Anderson Library was also one of many presenters at the Awready! Houston Hip Hop Conference on March 27th and 28th.

The Guardian, London Remember Screw’s Legacy

Published on November th, 2010

November 2010
“DJ Screw: from cough syrup to full-blown fever”
Jesse Serwer


Sometime around 1990, a young hip-hop DJ named Robert Earl Davis, Jr decided music was just too fast for his liking. Using the pitch controls on his turntables, he began slowing records to preternaturally slow speeds, augmenting his mixes with smooth cuts and slurred commentary that sounded as if delivered from beyond the grave. Davis, better known as DJ Screw, wasn’t the first DJ or producer to purposely pitch down music for effect, but he preserved the glacial pace throughout his 100-minute mixtapes, developing a uniquely psychedelic, ethereal sound that would come to be known as chopped and screwed, or, simply, Screw music.

Screw’s emergence in his native Houston, Texas coincided with a surge there in the popularity of drank (otherwise known as “lean,” “syrup” or “barre”), a mixture of prescription-strength cough syrup and soda that can create a feeling of sedated euphoria when taken in large quantities. He and the Screwed Up Click (SUC), the loose-knit collective of Houston rappers who freestyled on his mixtapes, referenced the purple-hued concoction so often that their music and their drug of choice become as closely associated with one another as acid rock and LSD. When Screw, just 29 at the time, died on November 16, 2000, from what medical examiners said was an overdose of codeine – drank’s active ingredient – that connection was forged for good.

“The first thing [people] think of when they hear Screw’s name, or Screw music in general, is the syrup sippin’,” says Cedric “ESG” Hill, a Houston rapper affiliated with the Screwed Up Click. “That’s just the culture down here and a way of life. It’s not that everyone who listened to Screw sipped syrup.”

Davis was confined to regional success in his lifetime, but today his influence has spread more widely. It can be heard in the R&B/hip-hop hybrids of T-Pain (see 2008’s cheeky homage Chopped and Screwed) and Drake (whose Nov 18 is an update of Screw’s June 27 [Freestyle]) and in the arty, haunted sounds of so-called “witch house” acts such as the ascendant Michigan trio Salem. Sweden’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, of the Knife fame, cited chopped-and-screwed mixes as an inspiration for her recent solo project, Fever Ray. Like a G6, a No 1 song in the US by LA pop rappers Far East Movement, contains a reference to “sippin’ sizzurp”.

Despite the growing interest in his music, Davis himself remains something of an enigma. He gave few interviews, and many biographical details – the source of his nickname, for instance – remain sketchy and subject to conflicting accounts. His life began in the appropriately sleepy rural town of Smithville, Texas (or, according to some reports, neighboring Bastrop), two hours west of Houston. After a brief spell living in California, he moved to Houston’s hardscrabble south side to live with his father. There, he encountered Daryl Scott, a local DJ and record store owner who would play uptempo dance records at reduced speed to blend them more seamlessly with hip-hop and R&B’s slower tempos.

“I would take [Laid Back’s] White Horse and [Mantronix’s] Fresh Is the Word – 12in singles that were on 45rpm – and play those at 33rpm, and mix them in with regular songs at regular speed, and it blew a lot of people’s minds,” Scott says. Among those with blown minds were Davis and another young DJ named Michael Price, and the pair soon developed their own music-slowing methods. But Price was stabbed to death shortly thereafter, leaving Screw to explore the sound’s possbilities on his own.

“He had a multitracker, which allowed you to really slow that pitch down,” Scott says. “I thought it was a little bit too much. The first time I popped a tape of his in the deck, I tried to push stop because I thought it was being chewed up.”

Although it is often presumed that Screw music’s slow pace is meant to simulate the drowsing effects of drank, Davis said in a 1995 interview with Rap Pages magazine that it was marijuana, and a desire to hear lyrics more clearly, that inspired his process. “When you smoking weed listening to music, you can’t bob your head to nothing fast,” he explained.

The earliest Screw tapes were made specifically for friends, who would commission him to make mixes for special occasions such as birthdays or funerals. Typically, he remixed new hip-hop tracks – he loved west coast gangster rap such as Too Short and Spice 1 – but he’d also throw in the odd throwback, such as Mama Used to Say, the early 80s hit by UK funk singer Junior, or Love TKO by Teddy Prendergrass. Eventually Screw’s “grey tapes” – they were distributed on grey Maxell cassettes, not CDs – grew to include freestyles by local rappers and, sometimes, whoever happened to be at his studio when he was making a mix. As his legend grew, first in Houston and then neighboring areas of Texas and the Gulf Coast, customers began travelling to his house to purchase their own copies of his tapes, which he sold for $10 apiece.

“We would just ride up to the man’s house, and when the gate would come open, that would mean he’s open for business,” says Screwed Up Click rapper Joseph “Z-Ro” McVey. “You could come get a Screw tape.” (Davis later opened a shop, Screwed Up Records & Tapes, to handle demand; it’s still in business, along with six satellite stores).

Record labels soon came calling. Houston’s Big Tyme rereleased a pair of grey tapes on CD as 3’N tha Mornin’ Pt 1 and Pt 2 in 1995, bringing Screw music into stores across the US for the first time. But working within the traditional music industry never particularly interested Screw. He deflected the attention to SUC rappers such as Lil’ Keke, Big Pokey, Big Moe and the late Fat Pat (Houston’s answer to the Notorious BIG was killed just as his first album, Ghetto Dreams, was due to be released), helping them secure record deals of their own.

Screw appeared on the verge of a major breakthrough at the time of his death in 2000. Three 6 Mafia had just scored a hit with Sippin’ on Some Sizzurp, an homage to Houston’s drug and music culture featuring Screw associates UGK. Online file-sharing services such as Napster were bringing Screw tapes to markets they had never before reached.

Davis’s friends insist it was his restless, workaholic lifestyle – he made as many as 1,000 mixtapes, according to some estimates – and poor health habits that contributed to his heart attack, just as much as drank.

“We lived a hard lifestyle,” says SUC rapper Ore “Lil’ O” Magnus-Lawson. “We were staying up all night, sometimes going three days with no sleep, chain-smoking tobacco and weed. It was a lifestyle that anyone who wasn’t on drank might fall victim to a heart attack because of.”

Screw was not the only member of his coterie to die under similar circumstances. Big Moe, SUC’s answer to Cee Lo with his hybrid of singing and rapping, suffered a fatal heart attack at age 33 in 2007. UGK’s Pimp C, also 33, died in his sleep after consuming large amounts of codeine.

Meanwhile, copycats and acolytes had begun making their own chopped-and-screwed mixtapes. The most notable of these were Michael “5000” Watts and Ronald “OG Ron C” Coleman, DJs from Houston’s north side who decided to make their own slow mixes after hearing SUC rappers diss their part of town on Screw tapes. Their record label Swisha House was the first to release chopped-and-screwed versions of entire albums, and the launching pad for Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Mike Jones, artists who rose to prominence in the mid-noughties with records that layered screwed-up samples over standard-speed beats. “Screw helped everybody in Houston with their career, regardless of if it was hands-on or not,” says Houston rapper Frazier “Trae” Thompson “He was our form of radio. He was responsible for the whole sound our city became known for.”

Drake is an unlikely champion for that sound. The cleancut Canada native’s lyrical themes, mostly about romance and heartbreak, don’t overlap much with the nihilistic car and drug raps found on Screw tape freestyles. But rap’s newest superstar, whose performances in Houston have included tributes to Screw and cameos from SUC’s Z-Ro and Lil Keke, points out that it’s the dream-like feel of Screw’s mixtapes that speaks to him and others from outside their milieu.

“Sometimes I feel guilty for how much I love Screw and the SUC,” Drake says via email. “I feel like Houston must look at me as someone who is just latching on to a movement. But I just can’t express how that shit makes me feel. That brand of music is just everything to me. It’s hip-hop, it’s sexy, it’s relaxing. I live for those emotions.”

Click here to view the original article:
Guardian Magazine article on DJ Screw, “DJ Screw: from cough syrup to full-blown fever” November 2010

DJ Screw’s legacy & influence featured in Frieze Magazine

Published on November th, 2010

November 2010
“The Slowed-Down Tempos of Screw and Its Influence on Contemporary Bands”
by Jace Clayton

Ten years ago this month, one of the great, lazy American geniuses died, at the age of 29, from drinking too much cough syrup. His name was Robert Earl Davis Jr., and I believe he stole the technique that made him famous from the Mexicans. Under the name DJ Screw, Davis earned a living taking other people’s rap songs and slowing them down. Like a good mixtape DJ, he would add EQ, subtle effects and scratches to heighten the impact of each song, but what made him special was his unrelenting commitment to syrupy slowness. Everyone who has mistakenly played a 45rpm single at 33 knows the effect, but by dedicating himself to this process Screw turned what could have been a joke into a rap subgenre, an oft-copied process (countless Southern rap records have ‘chopped & screwed’ versions), based on a technique so simple that it has philosophical heft.

By the 1990s Davis’ style – screw – had become a genre unto itself, and his mixes were selling like hotcakes far beyond his hometown of Houston, Texas. The selling part was important: Monterrey Mexicans had been talking over and slowing down cumbia records for years before Screw came along – something he would have been likely to hear in Houston.

Not all songs sound good screwed; the technique reveals a hidden face whose image can’t be guessed beforehand. The effect is druggy – there’s a subculture of codeine-based prescription cough syrup around screw – and occult. Once screwed, upbeat songs in a major key destabilize into eerie tonalities. Dark tunes get darker. The bass goes viscous. A screwed song urges the listener to internalize its dampened tempo, to stretch the existential qualities of the moment to match the music.

In a world where musical creations (remixes included) constantly shed economic value, the screw approach invests minimal effort into sonic transformation – yet the lazy process radically reconfigures a song. Screw dislocates body from voice – baritone rappers sound demonic, turgid, other and female singers melt into androgyny. If a song’s body is the regular-pitched version where the voice corresponds with the person it came from, then screw severs that connection. Paradoxically, screwed rap sounds more carnal than ever, yet the body is negated to expose the soul – or id, or drug-soaked semi-consciousness. Screw is the opposite of transcendence, music optimized for Houston’s stuck-on-earth car culture and oppressive humidity.

DJ Screw’s swamp gospel continues to spread. A clutch of new bands cite him as an influence; their damaged psychedelia – call it electronic goth, witch house, screwgaze or drag (the neologisms haven’t hardened into place yet) – embraces a screw-compatible mix of murky bass and de-tuned synths…….

Click here to view the full article:
Frieze Magazine article on DJ Screw: “The Slowed-Down Tempos of Screw and Its Influence on Contemporary Bands”, November 2010

DJ Screw’s legacy in New York Times article Nov 2010

Published on November th, 2010

November 4, 2010
“Seeping Out of Houston, Slowly”

THROUGHOUT the 1990s, DJ Screw pioneered hip-hop’s slide into the psychedelic. From his base on Houston’s south side, his method of slowing and manipulating records, a style that came to be known aƒs chopped and screwed — or just screw music — took rap to a state of primordial ooze. His music was woozy and immersive, elastic and gummy, and also an apt companion to the prescription-grade cough syrup that was one of the city’s favored narcotics…

This month marks the 10th anniversary of his death, and his influence is creeping ever further outward, far from Houston hip-hop into new, unanticipated places…

In all of these sounds, DJ Screw lurks in the distance, a firsthand or thirdhand influence, helping to cement his legacy as an underappreciated avant-gardist, creator of a sui generis sound that’s still growing and mutating…
Screw music also remains vital to the fabric of Houston. The shop DJ Screw founded, Screwed Up Records & Tapes, still sits on Cullen Boulevard, with the same posters and list of available tapes (now double CDs) that have been there for years. The University of Houston library system has begun to collect artifacts of the DJ Screw era.

But local artists don’t always release slow versions of their albums, as was once the norm, said E.S.G. of the Screwed Up Click. “People buy the old classics,” he said, “but now you got apps on the iPhone to screw music. It’s taking the originality away.”

Even a decade removed, though, the sound is indelible. “Screw, it’s just like a regular word now,” said DJ Chill, DJ Screw’s close friend and host of the weekly Damage Control radio show, which features screwed mixes by DJ Lil Randy. “A style outliving a person — you don’t see that too much.”

Pop, from 3-4 Action, another Screwed Up Click affiliate, remembers DJ Screw having huge ambition for his sound: “He would always say, ‘I’m going to screw the world,’ and it’s crazy, because the man screwed the world.”

Click here to view the full article:
New York Times article on DJ Screw: “Seeping Out of Houston, Slowly”, November 4, 2010

Screwed Up Records & Tapes website relaunch November 16, 2010

Published on October th, 2010

Screwed Up Records & Tapes

Please be patient as we are updating the website and online star.

(((The website for the original store started by DJ Screw)))

R.I.P. DJ Screw
Robert Earl Davis, Jr.
(July 20, 1971 – November 16, 2000

Screwed Up Records & Tapes is back online!!

Published on October th, 2010