Over the weekend, fans celebrated the life of the legendary DJ Screw on the 13th anniversary of his death. Aside from furthering Houston’s presence in the rap scene, the DJ was the innovator behind one the most recognizable sounds ever: chopped and screwed. The hazy, slowed vocals over jarring cuts and chops take on a life of their own and bring an entirely new dimension to songs. The sound is ubiquitous within Houston music and is generally the first thing that comes to mind when fans think of the city’s music (save for, perhaps, grillz). Following Screw’s innovation, many other DJs ran with the sound, from the likes of Michael Watts of Swishahouse fame to OG Ron C, who is carrying on the tradition today. While the difference between great and terrible screwed remixes is vast, a properly-executed one can be even more enjoyable than the original. Therefore, in honor of DJ Screw, we’ve compiled a brief list of some familiar songs that are better slower.If you’re looking to get your feet wet in the sound, this is the pool for you. Enter the land of Screwston below.
Westside Connection – “Bow Down”
DJ Screw takes the piercing horns provided by Bud’da on the original version and muffles them in a sea of dirty sprite. The result is a much more menacing and scary threat than Westside Connection’s angry original.
UGK – “One Day”
UGK’s classic off Ridin’ Dirty is already melancholy, but DJ Screw manages to milk a little more sorrow out of Bun and Pimp’s vocals. The high-pitched harmonizing of the chorus is gone and replaced by tortured crooning.
Chamillionaire featuring Z-Ro – “Denzel Washington”
As mentioned, DJ Screw was the pioneer, but plenty of other DJs followed suit and put their own twist on the screwed & chopped sound. Michael “5000” Watts goes back a long way with Chamillionaire, and has remixed plenty of his records. “Denzel Washington,” though, off Cham’s Mixtape Messiah 7, is one of the standouts. Accompanied by another Texas legend in Z-Ro, Chamillionaire’s fast-paced flossing stops to smell the purp here.
Drake – “Marvin’s Room”
Houston may be home to the screwed sound, but you don’t need to be from there for your music to fit. Drake’s music has been screwed and chopped plenty of times. In fact, Ron C has chopped up all of the Toronto rapper’s albums in full. The undeniable winner, though, is “Marvin’s Room” (okay, “Trust Issues” is up there, too). The drunk dial has never sounded sadder and more desperate than it does right here.
The Weeknd – “Wicked Games”
Continuing with Ron C’s Toronto connections, here he manages to make The Weeknd’s music sound even darker. “Wicked Games” gets turned on its ear as Abel‘s vocals cry out in pain over a plethora of chops.
Bonus: Big HAWK – “I’d Rather Bang Screw”
Another fallen Houston legend, Big HAWK, delivered a classic when he professed his love for DJ Screw and the whole chopped and screwed sound. While it doesn’t have a non-screwed counterpart to compare it to, it’s only right to pay homage to the song as it encapsulates the entire city and sound.
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