Chopped and screwed

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Chopped and screwed (also called screwed and chopped or slowed and throwed) is a technique of remixing hip hop music which developed in the Houston hip hop scene in the early 1990s. This is accomplished by slowing the tempo down to between 60 and 70 quarter-note beats per minute and applying techniques such as skipping beats, record scratching, stop-time, and affecting portions of the music to make a "chopped-up" version of the original.

DJ Screw is the innovator behind the chopped and screwed genre.[2] His key technique involved playing the same record on both turntables with a delay between them of one beat and quickly moving the crossfader side to side. This created an effect where the words or beats in a song were repeated without interrupting its tempo.


Preceding the late 1990s, most Southern hip hop was upbeat and fast, like Miami bass, which was inspired by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force with their groundbreaking track "Planet Rock". Except in Houston, where the music was always a little slower, even in the beginning, as can be heard on the earliest Geto Boys records from the mid to late 80’s.

In Houston, a different approach of slowing music down, rather than speeding it up, developed. It is unknown when DJ Screw definitively created "screwed and chopped" music: Screw said he started slowing music down in 1990. Working in Tulsa, Oklahoma, DJ Dinero and DJ Z-Nasty helped popularize chopped and screwed music in the Mid South.[3] He discovered that dramatically reducing the pitch of a record gave a mellow, heavy sound that emphasized lyrics to the point of almost storytelling. At first the music was only referred to as "screw music", was limited to the South Side of Houston, and was seen as laid-back driving music.

"[DJ Screw] strung together rap singles and vocals from local artists, all of which he manipulated to slow down the beat to a crawl and the vocals to a torpid drawl. He also chopped up the lyrics to create new meanings, warped and filtered the voices and added his own exhortations to the music's regional audience, mostly just using turntables and a microphone."

The New York Times[full citation needed]

Between 1991 and 1992, there was a large increase in use of purple drank in Houston.[1] Purple drank has been considered to be a major influence in the making of and listening to chopped and screwed music due to its perceived effect of slowing the brain down, giving slow, mellow music its appeal. DJ Screw, however, repeatedly denounced the claim that one has to use purple drank to enjoy screwed and chopped music. Screw, a known user of purple drank, said he came up with chopped and screwed music when high on marijuana.[3] Purple drank was very popular in Houston because of two factors; a lot of strict drug laws in Texas kept the more popular drugs like cocaine and marijuana from crossing state lines which spared Houston the worst effects of the crack epidemic, and the cheap availability of cough syrup in supermarkets in the 1980s.[1]

In the mid-1990s, chopped and screwed music started to move to the north side of Houston by way of DJ Michael "5000" Watts, and later OG RON C.[1] It wasn't long until a rivalry between north and south Houston started over who were the "originators" and who were the "adopters". Michael "5000" Watts always gave credit to DJ Screw as the originator of chopped and screwed music, which is he calls the genre "screwed and chopped". In the late 1990s, with the help of P2P networks such as Napster, chopped and screwed music spread to a much wider audience.

On November 16, 2000, DJ Screw died from a lethal combination of codeine and alcohol. Shortly after the passing of Screw, screwed and chopped music spread all over the southern United States.[4] Later in 2000, the Memphis based group Three 6 Mafia came out with their song "Sippin' on Some Syrup". The song at first was just a minor hit but later became one of Three 6 Mafia's most popular songs.

In 2005, the first screwed and chopped albums were added to the iTunes Store catalog[failed verification] and in 2010, a Chopped n Screwed app by The Chopstars called ‘ChopNotSlop’ was released on the App Store[5][third-party source needed]

In 2011, University of Houston Libraries acquired over 1,000 albums owned by DJ Screw. Some of the albums were part of an exhibit in early 2012 and, along with the rest, went available for research in 2013.[6]

Notable projects[edit]

In 1999, PSK-13, an associate of DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click (also a member of the South Park Coalition), released a screwed version of his album Pay Like You Weigh 5000 which was one of the earliest examples of a full-length album being given the treatment.

In 2001, 8Ball & MJG released a screwed version of their album Space Age 4 Eva (2000). The mixing was handled by Michael "5000" Watts of the famed Swishahouse, being the first screwed and chopped release on a major label.

In 2003, David Banner released a screwed and chopped version of his album Mississippi: The Album, being a first by an artist from Mississippi.

In 2005, Three 6 Mafia released a chopped and screwed version of their album Most Known Unknown, being one of the first albums to be chopped and screwed in commercial light as the album sold over a million copies. The mixing was handled by Michael "5000" Watts of the famed Swishahouse

In 2006, Chamillionaire's The Sound of Revenge (Screwed & Chopped) by OG Ron C became the most successful screwed and chopped album to date.

In 2009, Drake (musician) released So Far Gone (mixtape), featuring the song "November 18th" which makes reference to and heavily samples DJ Screw's "June 27".

Director Barry Jenkins wrote the script of Moonlight to a Slim K chopped and screwed remix of Channel Orange by Frank Ocean, titled Channel Purple.[7]


Chopped and screwed music was created by DJ Screw in the early 1990s. Part of the chopped & screwed music scene is a beverage known as purple drank (the active ingredients being codeine and promethazine[1]); the color purple, which is usually present as a dye in the "drank," has also become a symbolic color or motif to identify chopped and screwed versions of songs or whole albums. The 2007 documentary film Screwed In Houston produced by VBS/Vice Magazine details the history of the Houston rap scene and the influence of the chopped and screwed subculture on Houston hip-hop.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Patel, Joseph. "Chopped And Screwed: A History". Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved March 2, 2019. Of course, it wasn't just the slower pace of Southern life that was simpatico with chopped and screwed music. It was also the drug culture springing up in Houston at the time—specifically, the one centering on the consumption of the prescription cough syrup Promethazine, which includes codeine. The elixir goes by a number of names—syrup, drank, Texas tea—and its depressant qualities were the catalyst to an illicit subculture built around its abuse and the lethargic beats of chopped and screwed.
  2. ^ Briana Cheng. "10 CHOPPED AND SCREWED SONGS THAT NEVER GET OLD". Pigeons and Planes. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Givin It To Ya Slow: DJ Screw interview from RapPages (1995)", Press Rewind If I Haven't.
  4. ^ Dylan Mininger (March 31, 2019). "Behind the scenes of chopped and screwed music". Driftwood.
  5. ^ "ChopNotSlop on the App Store". Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2011-09-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^

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