|Chopped and screwed|
|Cultural origins||Early 1990s, Houston, Texas, United States|
|Houston and Longview, Texas|
Chopped and screwed (also called screwed and chopped or slowed and throwed) is a music genre and technique of remixing music that involves slowing down the tempo and deejaying. It developed in the Houston hip hop scene in the early 1990s by DJ Screw. The screwed technique involves slowing the tempo of a song down to 60 and 70 quarter-note beats per minute and applying techniques such as skipping beats, record scratching, stop-time and affecting portions of the original composition to create a "chopped-up" version of the song.
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". Unlike its southern musical counterparts Houston's rap style has consistently remained slower, even in the beginning of Houston hip hop, as can be heard on the earliest Houston based group Geto Boys records from the mid to late 80's.
It is unknown when DJ Screw definitively created "screwed and chopped" music. Screw's former manager Charles Washington stated, "Screw mistakenly created the sound while hanging out with friends at an apartment in the late 80s." Screw discovered that dramatically reducing the pitch of a record gave a mellow, heavy sound that emphasized lyrics to the point of storytelling. Initially, the slow-paced hip hop genre was referred to as laid-back driving music and was limited to South Houston until it was popularized by DJs such as DJ T-Rent Dinero and DJ Z-Rusty.[failed verification]
"[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."
In Houston, between 1991 and 1992, there was a notable increase in the use of lean (also known as purple drank and sizzurp) which many[who?] believe contributed to the allure of screw music. The drug beverage has been considered a major influence on the making and listening of chopped and screwed music due to its perceived effect of slowing the brain down, and giving the slow, mellow music its appeal. In an interview for the documentary film Soldiers United For Cash, DJ Screw denounced the claim that one has to use lean to enjoy screwed and chopped music, saying, "People think just to listen to my tapes you gotta be high or dranked out. That ain't true. There's kids getting my tapes, moms and dads getting my tapes, don't smoke or drink or nothing."[better source needed]
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. A rivalry between north and south Houston over the true originators of chopped and screwed began to arise.[better source needed] Michael "5000" Watts always gave credit to DJ Screw as the originator of chopped and screwed music, although Watts has been a proponent of the slogan "screwed and chopped" instead of "chopped and screwed". 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 was found dead in the bathroom of his music studio. The autopsy report later revealed that Screw died from a lethal combination of codeine, marijuana and alcohol.
Following the death of DJ Screw, his musical influence 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 debuted as a minor hit but later became one of Three 6 Mafia's most popular songs.
The 2007 documentary film Screwed in Houston details the history of the Houston rap scene and the influence of the chopped and screwed subculture on Houston hip hop. 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.
As of to date, the chopped and screwed music genre has been added to all forms of streaming services including iTunes, Spotify and has crossed over to receive mass mainstream appeal.[better source needed]
In the mid-2010s, producers on SoundCloud began experimenting with fusing chopped and screwed music and EDM. It has since developed into subgenres such as "future screw and lean house".
"Slowed and reverb" (stylized as "slowed + reverb") is a technique of remixing which involves slowing down and adding reverb to a previously existing song, often created by using digital audio editors such as Audacity. The technique originated in 2017, when Houston-based producer Jarylun Moore (known online as Slater), having been inspired by DJ Screw, began uploading remixes of popular songs using the technique to YouTube. The first of these — a remix of Lil Uzi Vert's song "20 Min" — earned over one million views on the platform in under two months, eventually earning over four million views before being taken down. Other notable producers in this sub-genre include wretchshop (also known as ciki 8k), rum world, Aestheticg, imlonely, Chovies as well as streliz. The style became especially popular on YouTube, where it became common to play remixes over looping clips from retrofuturistic anime scenes. Slowed and reverb remixes were also uploaded to Spotify using the service's podcast feature. For Okayplayer, Elijah C. Watson dubbed slowed and reverb remixes "the soundtrack for Generation Z", comparing the style to lo-fi hip hop.
Remixes using the technique also became popular on the video-sharing service TikTok. However, they became controversial on social media in mid-2020 after a viral video posted to TikTok failed to attribute the creation of slowed and reverb to chopped and screwed, causing users to brand slowed and reverb a "gentrified" version of chopped and screwed. For the Houston Chronicle, Shelby Stewart wrote, "Give DJ Screw his flowers. Slowed + reverb is a poor imitation of what chopped and screwed music is."
The color purple, which is usually present as a dye in purple drank, has also become a symbolic color or motif to identify chopped and screwed versions of songs or whole albums.
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.
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