“Screw accidentally hit the turntable’s pitch button, slowing everything down”

Everybody wanted Screw tapes. One reason was that you could understand the words, and the rappers Screw chose were all good with words. Another was that Screw picked great songs, usually West Coast gangsta raps that he liked and not whatever was a hit. Plus, he was a homeboy, from their very own south side. Maybe best of all, Screw had found a way to slow down time—he had found another world. So many people were coming to his apartment to buy tapes that the building manager thought he was a drug dealer. The police kicked in his door a couple of times looking for drugs. He moved to a home near Gulfgate Mall and fans followed, knocking on his door at all hours.

Something had to be done, so Screw set a time to sell: from eight to ten in the evening. Cars would start lining up down the block, bringing hundreds of fans, some from as far away as Dallas, who would crowd into the front yard. At around eight, Screw, who stood five feet seven inches tall, would open the security gate to his driveway, and the fans would line up at his back door. Accompanied by a .45 pistol and a dog (and later by his girlfriend Nikki and friends in the SUC), Screw would stand there and sell grays and chat with fans, some of whom were in such awe they couldn’t speak. Then they would drive off, pop the new tape into their decks, and listen to what the SUC was rapping about: their clothes, the latest slang, the new toys they had found to put in their cars. But it wasn’t all just about the material world. “Screw would speak to you through the turntable,” longtime fan Tosin, who used to sell Screw CDs from his Web site, told me. “Say one of his friends died. He’d play certain songs with an RIP feel, keep doing it over and over, chopping words to make a point. It’s like he knew what you were going through by the way he was playing.” Patrick Lewis, head of Jam Down Entertainment, told me he thinks Screw’s music had a lot to do with the decrease in Houston gang violence in the mid-nineties. “He was all about slowing down, chilling out, smoking a little weed. No more hating. Screw became a part of life.”

Read More | “The Slow Life and Fast Death of DJ Screw” | Michael Hall | Texas Monthly

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