In the early 1990s, a teenager named Robert Earl Davis Jr. pioneered the DJ style known as “screwed and chopped” in a small apartment on the Southside of Houston, Texas. His friends already called him DJ Screw back then, but the world hadn’t yet learned about the quiet dude with the flat top and that big sound. Just a couple of years later, his music would become impossible to ignore around Houston. Over the next decade, Screw mixed and record hundreds of “Screwtapes” with dozens of collaborators, birthing a legacy that would continue to grow long after his death in November 2000.
Screw’s influence spread first through hip hop, fueling the Houston rap juggernaut of 2005 (when the city’s rap game reached heights unseen since Geto Boys broke in 1991), and has now stretched around the world. Contemporary rappers like Drake and A$AP Rocky have adapted the Houston sound into their own, bringing it to an even wider audience, and the term “screw” has been co-opted to describe any kind of music that has been slowed from its original speed.