Chopped and screwed

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 by DJ Screw. The screwed technique[1] is accomplished by slowing the tempo 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, but his first manager Charles Washington, was quoted in an 2001 interview with Texas Monthly stating that 'Screw mistakenly created the sound while hanging out with friends at an apartment in the late 80s.' [2] 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 the South Side of Houston, until it was popularized by DJ Dinero and DJ Z-Nasty[3] from Tulsa, Oklahoma.


"[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, which many believe contributed to the allure of screw music.[4] Purple drank, which is commonly known as sizzurp, or lean is a street narcotic made from the prescription opioid codeine that treats mild pain and acts as a cough suppressant. The popular street beverage 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, and giving the slow, mellow music its appeal. In an interview for the documentary film "Soldiers United For Cash"[5] DJ Screw, denounced the claim that one has to use purple drank to enjoy screwed and chopped music. In the documentary Screw is quoted as 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."

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.[4] It wasn't long until a rivalry between north and south Houston [6] 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, 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[7] of codeine, marijuana and alcohol.

Expansion and cross-pollinationEdit


Following the death of DJ Screw, his musical influence spread all over the southern United States.[8] 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.

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.[9]

As of to date, the chopped and screwed music genre has been added to all forms of streaming services [10] including Itunes, Spotify and has crossed over to receive mass mainstream appeal.

New Wave and EDMEdit

In the mid 2010s, chopped and screwed music began being experimented as an EDM genre by soundcloud producers. It has since developed subgenres such as Future Screw and Lean House.[11]


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[4]); 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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ Washington, Jesse (2001-01-18). "Life in the Slow Lane". Houston Press. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  2. ^ "The Slow Life and Fast Death of DJ Screw". Texas Monthly. 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  3. ^ "Givin It To Ya Slow : DJ Screw interview from RapPages (1995)". Press Rewind If I Haven't... 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  4. ^ a b c 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.
  5. ^ "DJ Screw Soldier's United For cash Documentary". Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  6. ^ Sauce Walka reflects on North Houston vs South Houston beef, retrieved 2020-04-28
  7. ^ Archive-Eric-Demby. "Codeine Overdose Killed DJ Screw, Medical Examiner Says". MTV News. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  8. ^ Dylan Mininger (March 31, 2019). "Behind the scenes of chopped and screwed music". Driftwood.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2011-09-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Mixtape #1 (Verses) [Screwed & Chopped] by The Network & Pollie Pop, retrieved 2020-04-28
  11. ^ Ross Figlerski (3 March 2015). "FUTURE SCREW: THE INTERNET'S VERSION OF HOUSTON'S CHOPPED AND SCREWED". Green Label. Retrieved 11 July 2020.