If you don’t know about the “chopped and screwed” phenomenon that has taken over some sectors of the hip-hop world, you’re in for a psychedelic preview. Sex, drugs and rock and roll has mutated in the rap world with the emergence of the “Screwed up” sounds of the south. While this murky mixing style lay in it’s narcotic origins, the sound has crossed the black market and landed in the laps of corporate America with amazing results.
Trying to detail the history of the “screwed” sound is a thick, trippy experience. About 15 years ago, DJ Screw, a Texas DJ stumbled across a style of mixing that incorporated super slowed vocals, quick edit chops, cuts and scratches. The sound fit perfectly with the new drug of choice, a liquid tranquilizer concoction with Promethazine, nicknamed “syrup”, “oil”, and “lean”. It gave it’s users an altered reality where sounds and movements are slowed down. It seems that many in the south felt like Huey Lewis did, and not only wanted a new drug, they had seemingly invented their own.
It didn’t take long for the drug, sound and accompanying Dixie cups to travel all over Texas and adjoining southern states. Soon rival DJs began composing slowed down mix tapes, all with the Screwed up sound. Many local emcees like Mike Jones, Lil Flip, Paul Wall and Slimm Thugg, found their way to fame by being featured on “screw” tapes made by either DJ Screw or Michael Watts. It wasn’t long before the sound was the hottest thing in hip-hop music. Ironically, DJ Screw, the founder of the sound was the first casualty of the narcotic brew. It is said that his untimely death was the result of years of abusing Promethazine. His passing may have hurt his family, close friends and business associates, but it also made him a martyr of sorts. It was because of him that several people were able gain national attention and million dollar record deals. The “screwed up” sound lives on and looks to get bigger and bigger every day.
One of the best selling CDs to feature a full “chopped and screwed” remix and release is Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys “Crunk Juice” . Once you pop the CD in the deck, you are immediacy greeted with Lil Jon’s patented voice, slowed to the point that his recognizable yell is replaced with a low toned, from the gut growl. The world famous screw tape maker, DJ Michael “5000” Watts does his thing, chopping and mixing the ATL producer’s CD with perfection.
The CD takes a entirely new feel that may not sit well with newcomers. Usher’s silky smooth voice on “Lovers and Friends” is transformed into a deep, murky baritone. It will be a hard pill to swallow for rookies or crunk haters. Fans of the sound will be thrilled to hear the ESB trill-ness screwed up. Although it may be an acquired taste for some, others will hear this CD and hazily reminisce on the good days when DJ Screw was the man supplying the lean fiends with a soundtrack to the streets. You do not have to be high to enjoy the CD. The music is so dope that listening to it alone might give you a contact high.
Final verdict-Lil Jon & The East Side Boys-Crunk Juice Chopped & Screwed=Dope in a Dixie Cup! Raise your crunk juice cups and toast the memory of a hip-hop innovator, DJ Screw, RIP!
Bone Thugs and Harmony are set to release a new CD, “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Greatest Hits” chopped up by DJ Michael “5000” Watts on November 15th. Get a taste of the crunkness by clicking the links below.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony E-Card
Video Still Tippin’ (Chopped Screwed… Mike Jone