- Book author
- Lance Scott Walker
DJ Screw, a.k.a. Robert Earl Davis Jr., changed rap and hip-hop forever. In the 1990s, in a spare room of his Houston home, he developed a revolutionary mixing technique known as chopped and screwed. Spinning two copies of a record, Screw would "chop" in new rhythms, bring in local rappers to freestyle over the tracks, and slow the recording down on tape. Soon Houstonians were lining up to buy his cassettes--he could sell thousands in a single day. Fans drove around town blasting his music, a sound that came to define the city's burgeoning and innovative rap culture. June 27 has become an unofficial city holiday, inspired by a legendary mix Screw made on that date.
Lance Scott Walker has interviewed nearly everyone who knew Screw, from childhood friends to collaborators to aficionados who evangelized Screw's tapes--millions of which made their way around the globe--as well as the New York rap moguls who honored him. Walker brings these voices together with captivating details of Screw's craft and his world. More than the story of one man, DJ Screw is a history of the Houston scene as it came of age, full of vibrant moments and characters. But none can top Screw himself, a pioneer whose mystique has only grown in the two decades since his death.
The people who were close to DJ Screw will tell you that it took a village to make his world come alive. Well, it took a village to make this book happen, too. I want to thank sincerely the big family who let me into their lives in varying degrees over the course of untold years of research: Red, Nikki, Charles, Shimeka, Pam, Pop, Poppa Screw, Bubb, Chris Cooley, Shorty Mac, Larry, Al, ACT, Doug, D-Ray, Zo . . . I hope I did the family history justice in this book.
I also want to thank members of the Screwed Up Click family for their generosity of spirit and time. For helping me make connections beyond the world I had within reach, I want to extend a special thank you to Orian “Lump” Lumpkin, Sean Solo, Darryl Scott, Mike-D, Den Den, Kyu-Boi, E.S.G., ACT, Mike Frost, MC Wickett Crickett (RIP), Sean Solo, Man Poo, Madd Mack, Stick 1, Spider, Showtyme, Big A, DJ Chill, DJ Domo, Sherall Jack, Charlie Franks, Dominique Turner, Nancy Byron, DJ Gold, Reggie “Bird” Oliver, Bamino, Bun B, and Jugg Mugg of Coughee Brothaz. This book also could not have worked without the detail afforded by the interviews, videos, and photographs from the archives of other writers, filmmakers, and artists who have covered Screw over the years: Jason Culberson, Matt Sonzala, Daika Bray, Ariel Santschi (Pitch Control), Michael Hall, Chris Cooley, James Bland, Deron Neblett, Ben Tecumseh DeSoto, Bilal Allah, Cheryl Smith, Desmond Lewis, Insanul Ahmed, Cheryl K. Brown, Mr. Nike and J Daniels with Game 101, Polow (Mob TV), Kyu Boi, Douglas Doneson, and Donnie Houston. Thanks to the institutions and organizations that have hosted me over the years: Texas Book Festival, Houston History Alliance, Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), Houston Public Media, Red Bull Music Academy, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Julie Grob and University of Houston Libraries, John Guess and Houston Museum of African American Culture, Sean Ripple and the Contemporary Austin, Jason Mellard and Alan Schaefer at Texas State University (San Marcos), Catherine Olien at the American Library in Paris, Adam Silverstein and Rocky Bucano with the Universal Hip Hop Museum (Bronx), Matt Carter and Dennis Brandner with CUNY City College (New York), Boo-Hooray (New York), Powerhouse Arena (Brooklyn), McNally Jackson (Brooklyn), Oren Bloedow and the Owl Music Parlor (Brooklyn), Record Grouch (Brooklyn), Rough Trade (Brooklyn), Rough Trade East (London), NTS Radio (London), FM4 (Austria), UGS Radio (France), Type Books (Toronto), Unitarian House (Ottawa), Joint Custody (Washington, DC), Red Emma’s (Baltimore), UGHH (Boston), the Last Bookstore (LA), Deep Vellum Books (Dallas), Piranha Records (Round Rock), Complete Culture (Austin), Farewell Books (Austin), KUTX (Austin), Hi-Tones and Ghostpizza (San Antonio), Friends of Sound (San Antonio), Brazos Bookstore (Houston), Sig’s Lagoon (Houston), Screwed Up Records & Tapes (Houston), Cactus Music (Houston), Sunrise Records (Beaumont), Galveston Bookshop, El Dusty and PRODUCE® (Corpus Christi), Crowley Theater (Marfa), Tim Johnson and Marfa Book Co. For additional support I want to thank Peter Beste, Jessica Hopper, DaLyah Jones, Tyina Steptoe, Carla Valencia, Maco L. Faniel, Todd Burns, Shea Serrano, Donnie Houston, Brad Tyer, Joan LeMay, Rocky Rockett, Kurtis Blow, Nardwuar, Bepi, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Charlie Braxton, Gabriel Szatan, DJ BenHaMeen, Alex La Rotta, Diana Nguyen, DeVaughn Douglas, Kiana Fitzgerald, Jay Shelowitz, Patricia Restrepo, Mickael Sinixta Cather (France), Felix Diewald (Austria), William McKenna (BBC News), Bobby Phats and K. Dubb (KPFT), Murdoq, Jazzie Redd, John Nova Lomax, Keith Venable, Anders Firing Lunde, Craig Lindsey, Scotty Hard, Grant Brydon (UK), Jay Green, Stefanie Sobelle, Jeff Salamon, Rad Richard, Bucky Thuerwachter, Russell Etchen, Emma Schkloven, Craig Mathis, Jon Caramanica, boice-Terrel Allen, Taylor Crumpton, Sama’an Ashrawi, Tom Sachs, Marco Torres, David Gutowski, Christina Dias, Darby Wheeler, Felice Cleveland, Buffalo Sean, Magus Magnus, Mary Manning, Reggie Harris, Darron Henderson, Tosin Nisot, Rodrigo Bascunan, Shara Morris, Jacques Morel, Brett Koshkin, James H. Williams, Pam Mitchell, Michael Hagerty, Vera Beren, Rashad Al-Amin, Fresh and the Breaks, Isaac Yowman, Sidney Walker, Randy Haaga and SoSouth, Chal Ravens (UK), Paul Wallfisch, Leor Galil, Jonathan Williamson, Casey Cheek, Bill Morrison, Wells Dunbar, Art Levy, Victoria Bartlett, Will Cameron, Nathan Smith, Skinny Friedman, Shenequa Golding, Jamie Saft, Tristan Jones, Langston Collin Wilkins, Lucy Gunter, Vance Muse, Bryan Hahn, Prince Paul, Katharine Sawchuk, Padraigh Perkins-Edge, Despot, Oscar Boyson, Samuel Strang, Eothen Alapatt, Y. E. Torres, Rocky Rockett, Yeiry Guevara, Tuck, Elijah C. Watson, Rob Pursey (UK), Aaron Thompson, Eddy Machtinger, Seba Suber, Austin Brown, Matt Goodman, Alexandra Wagner, Will Evans, David Pulido, Lauren Eddy, Charles Eddy, Amy Müller, Mathew Petronelli, Michael Hudson, Flynn Donovan, Elliott Goldkind, Andy Beta, Shawna Kenney, Avi Friedman, Kalpna Patel, Bobby Ramirez, Christopher Rosales, Sharan Zwick, Paul Randall, Shawn Duranni, Brandon Becker, Quincy Flowers, Meshah Hawkins, DJ Lil’ King, Stephanie Phillips, Avery Zaddieus, JGTheengineer, Flash Gordon Parks, BBoy Craig, Gonzo, Mark Waldo Ward, Tomas Escalante, Chris Gray, Kasia McNeilly, Will Chase, Verda Carr, Brian Coleman, Lawrence Burney, Rachel Monroe, Michael LaCour, Cameron Ludwick, Optimo Ram, Sam Reis, Dave Tompkins, Lauren Martin, David Drake, Jayson Greene, Tamara Roper, Dan Sharber, Gary Suarez, Harley Brown, Shawn Setaro, Jordan Sowunmi, Quinn Bishop, Dana Scott, Tod A, Will Bundy, Bryan Hahn, Johan Kugelberg, Paula Mejia, Michael Tedder, Helen McCuaig, Grandma Lois, Camilo Smith, Anthony Rathbun, Katy Vine, Jeff Weiss, Brian Gempp, Torii MacAdams, Jay Van Hoy, Terence Nance, Naima RamosChapman, Michael Azerrad, Andrew Dansby, Derek George, Angelica Lopez-Torres, Lynne Ferguson, Abby Webber, Kate Shannon, Bailey Morrison, Cameron Ludwick, Demi Marshall, Joel Pinckney, Dawn Bishop, Casey Kittrell, Roger Wood, and Jennifer Charles.