Chopped and screwed
|Chopped and screwed|
|Stylistic origins||Southern hip hop, Half speed/33rpm, Codeine effect|
|Cultural origins||Early 1990s, Houston, Texas, U.S.|
|Derivative forms||Witch house, seapunk, vaporwave, Cloud rap|
|Houston • San Antonio • Dallas • Longview|
|Purple drank • Psychedelic music • Codeine|
Chopped and screwed (sometimes called screwed and chopped or slowed and throwed) refers to 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 largely recognized as the innovator behind the chopped and screwed genre. DJ Screw's 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.
Today it is still common to see screwed and chopped versions of mixtapes and albums released alongside the regular speed versions, sometimes in a double disc format with one disc screwed and the other regular speed.
Preceding the early 1990s, most Southern hip hop was upbeat and fast, like Miami bass which was inspired by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force with their groundbreaking "Planet Rock". DJ Money B from Tampa, Florida created slowing down music in 1985 and in Central and Southern Florida DJ's such as Jam Pony Express from Fort Lauderdale and Rock It Rod DJ's from Tampa started slowing down music in the mid and 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 and also in Tulsa Oklahoma Dj Dinero And Dj Z-Nasty helped popularize chopped and screwed music in the Mid South. There is no debate, however, that DJ Screw invented the music style." He discovered that dramatically reducing the pitch of a record gave a mellow, heavy sound that emphasized lyrics to the point of almost storytelling. After messing around with the sound for a while Screw started making full length "Screw Tapes". 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. As Screw's tapes started to gain popularity he started selling his tapes for around $10. Screw was known to feature some of Houston's most renowned rappers from the South Side. This eventually led to the formation of the Screwed Up Click.
Between 1991 and 1992, there was a large increase in use of purple drank in Houston. 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. 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.
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. 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 groups 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. 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 2011, University of Houston Libraries acquired over 1,000 albums owned by DJ Screw. Some of the albums will be part of an exhibit in early 2012 and the rest available for research in 2013.
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.
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); 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.
- "Chopped & Screwed: A History: [Page 2]", MTV.com. "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."
- Briana Cheng. "10 CHOPPED AND SCREWED SONGS THAT NEVER GET OLD". Pigeons and Planes. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
- "Givin It To Ya Slow: DJ Screw interview from RapPages (1995)", Press Rewind If I Haven't.
- "Music Archived March 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.", Freize magazine, Archive, Issue 135 November–December 2010.
- "Chopped & Screwed: A History Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.: [Page 1]", MTV.com.
- "Pay Like You Weigh 5000: Screwed", Amazon.com. [No product info.]