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Screwed and Chopped

Posted By on October 6, 2006


Chopped and screwed, screwed and chopped, slowed and throwed and screw all refer to a technique of remixing hip hop music by slowing the tempo and applying various DJ techniques such as skipping beats, record scratching, stop-time, and sending portions of the music through stand-alone effects to make a "chopped-up" version of the original.

The style was developed in Houston, Texas which remains the location most associated with the style. The late DJ Screw, a South Houston DJ, is credited with the creation of and early experimentation with the genre. DJ Screw began making mixtapes of the slowed-down music in the early 1990s. Originally, this process involved mixing two copies of the same record, slowed down either on the turntables using pitch shift or through use of an after-mixer device. Phasing, Flanging and echo effects were originally the result of the two records being played at millisecond intervals.

Some Houston-area artists (e.g. Ganksta N-I-P and Willie D) incorporated the slowed tempo into a few rap songs (Willie D's song Die (from the album I'm Goin Out Lika Soldier) featured a slowed-down sample of Scarface's line "Balls and my word" (from the feature film) long before chopped and screwed was part of the mainstream.

The genre was associated with both the use of marijuana and the consumption of "syrup", which contains the prescription drugs codeine and promethazine. This has been credited as influencing the genre's psychedelic style. DJ Screw made a significant number of mixtapes (purported to be in the thousands), usually with a theme. This provided a significant outlet for MCs in the South-Houston area, and helped local rappers such as Lil' Flip, E.S.G., UGK, Lil Neal, Lil' Keke and Z-Ro gain regional and sometimes national prominence. Early tapes were often chopped and screwed versions of instrumentals over which rappers would later freestyle, but later tapes were mostly vocal tracks with occasional toasting or freestyle intermissions. By the time of Screw's death in 2000, the genre had become widely known throughout the southern United States.

Mississippi rapper David Banner released a chopped and screwed version of his "Mississippi: The Album" in 2003, marking one of the first successful efforts by a major recording label to commercially promote the genre. Other Southern recording artists, including Eightball and MJG, Lil' Troy, The Geto Boys, Three 6 Mafia and Chicago's Do or Die had similar success.

Currently, the style is exemplified in the music of Swishahouse DJs such as OG Ron C, DJ N.A.S, and Michael 5000 Watts. Their work has helped establish current rappers Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Mike Jones and rap groups such as The Color Changin' Click and the Screwed Up Click. More major recording labels have embraced the genre, and chopped and screwed albums occasionally outsell the unmixed version.

Paul Wall's commercial success in 2005 has made him the most prominent artist working within the genre. It also marked a movement in production technique from turntables to the use of software programs such as Atomix's Virtual DJ. Paul Wall was invited onto MTV Jams during the summer of 2005 to host a block of chopped and screwed music videos and to talk about the remix technique that he uses. In April 2005, the first albums from the genre were made available at the iTunes Music Store.


* "Hip hop records are literally slowed down to a molasses-like pace, and beats and lyrics ooze lazily out of the speakers. The result is a heavy, drowsy groove that, over the last 14 years, has exerted a major influence on Southern hip hop culture." – MTV.COM

* "If Screw didn't do it, its not a screw tape." – The Conversation off the album: "The Legend"

* "We call it Screw & Chopped music to pay homage to the Legendary DJ Screw aka The Originator" – Paul Wall

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