Houston, Texas is home to one of the most prominent and independent hip-hop scenes in the world, largely influencing both gangsta rap and the larger southern hip-hop community.
The man credited with being the central figurehead for the uprising of hip-hop is the late DJ Screw (real name Robert Earl Davis Jr). Screw was the creator and pioneer of a new style of hip-hop, which was christened “screwing” after its creator. This method involves the key tracks of a cut being slowed down when remixed. 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 later 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.
Many Houston area artists, such as Big Love, Willie D and Ganksta NIP began to incorporate the slowed tempo into rap songs. Willie D’s song “Die”, from the album ‘I’m Goin Out Lika Soldier’, featured a slowed-down sample of the line “all I have is my balls and my word” from the movie ‘Scarface’, well before “screwing” gained more mainstream acceptance.
The genre was associated with both the use of marijuana and the consumption of “syrup”, a cocktail of cough syrup, mixed with the prescription drugs codeine and promethazine (DJ Screw’s death in November 2000 was attributed to either an overdose of codeine, or a gradual build-up of codeine in his body’s system as a result of years spent abusing the drug). 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 ESG, Lil’ Flip and Z-Ro gain regional and sometimes national prominence, and it is likely that hotels in Houston would have played host to several record labels’ talent spotters eager to check out the genre for themselves.
Early tapes were often “screwed” versions of instrumentals over which rappers would later freestyle, but later tapes were mostly vocal tracks with occasional toasting or freestyle intermissions, and by the time of Screw’s death, the genre had become widely known throughout the southern United States.
Currently, the style is best exemplified in the music of Swishahouse DJ Michael 5000 Watts and Chamilitary DJ OG Ron C. Their work has helped establish current rappers Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Slim Thug – all of whom achieved massive mainstream success and placed Houston firmly back on the hip-hop map, as well as rap groups such as The Colour 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.
About the Author:
Andrew Regan is an online, freelance author from Scotland. He is a keen rugby player and enjoys travelling.
Article Source: ArticlesBase.com – Southern Justice for Hip-hop: Houston a Rap Capital?
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