If you're from Houston, you probably already know who DJ Screw is: originator of the famous chopped & screwed DJ technique and leader of the Screwed Up Click. Robert Earl Davis, Jr. was born in Smithville, Texas and began DJing at age 12. Davis would spin with his friend Trey Adkins, who would rhyme. "Screw had a jam box and he hooked up two turntables to it and made a fader out of the radio tuner so he could deejay." Adkins said if Robert Earl didn't like a record, he would deface it with a screw. One day Adkins asked him, "Who do you think you are, DJ Screw?"
In 1990, Screw started his trademark slowed-down mixes. By then, friends and customers had increasingly begun requesting his more well-known mixes instead of personalized lists. During the early 90s, he invited some Houston emcees from the city's south side to rhyme on those mixes. This coalition of MCs eventually became the fathers of the Screwed Up Click. Many members of the Screwed Up Click, or S.U.C., are considered key figures in the canon of Houston hip hop. The original lineup included Big Hawk, Big Moe, E.S.G., and Fat Pat, among others. The crew later gained then-upcoming artists such as Z-Ro, Trae the Truth, and Lil Flip. In Houston, when you're playing any song that's been slowed down -- chopped & screwed -- you're known to be banging screw.
June 27th is the name of the most famous DJ Screw freestyle, clocking in at 35+ minutes and featuring 7 artists. It's so popular that now, 22 years after it was recorded, you can still hear it played at schools during Friday night football games in town. And if any DJ drops the beat at a club, every native Houstonian there is guaranteed to go crazy. LISTEN TO THE ORIGINAL JUNE 27TH FREESTYLE.
Another part of Houston's hip hop culture that goes hand-in-hand with chopped & screwed music is riding slab. On any street or freeway in Houston, you'll see shiny cars with rims protruding far out from their tires. On some of these cars, the top and back of the trunks have cut rims with “poke” that are beautifully displayed but proudly nonfunctional, and serve as eye candy representing spare tires. These cars are called slabs.
So what is a “slab”? Some say it’s an acronym for Slow, Low and Bangin’ or Slow, Loud and Bangin’, depending on who you ask – slow can either be the music (DJ Screw) or the speed of the car, and bangin’ means that your car is well-customized. A slab is normally an old-school American car customized with candy paint (shiny red, blue, green, gold, purple, etc. colors), lush interiors, and wire wheels known as Swangas. If you're riding in a slab listening to DJ Screw, you're doing the ultimate H-Town thing: swangin and bangin.