Written By: Loso of Houston TREND
The year is 1994, and somewhere on the south side of Houston a loud bass sound is rattling out of a nearby candy red Cadillac Deville’s trunk. As the sound gets closer, you hear a recognizable popular record, only you hear it at a much slower speed. To an unfamiliar ear it may seem like the vehicles tape deck is broken or something is wrong with the actual tape cassette. It’s neither; instead the music you are hearing is referred to as “Screwed and Chopped”. A sound originated by Robert Earl Davis, Jr. better known as DJ Screw.
Robert was born July 20, 1971 in Bastrop, Texas. His father Robert Earl Davis, Sr. was a hardworking man whom was a truck driver based out of Houston. His Mother, Ida May Davis, whom after the marriage was over with his father, took Screw and his elder sister to Los Angles for a couple of years. When Screw was nine his mother moved them back to Texas.
Screw had desires to be a truck driver just like his father, a dream that quickly dissolved when he discovered his mother’s turntables. He studied the art of music and learned the piano so well that he could play a classical song, listen to it and execute it flawlessly. At the age of 13, Screw was inspired by the 1984 movie “Breakin’” which only made him want to become a DJ even more. He would take his mother’s records and began to scratch them on the turntables just like the DJ’s did.
Screw was given his name by his longtime friend, Trey Adkins. Adkins said that when Robert did not like a record, he would scratch them with a screw. So he asked him one day “Who do you think you are? DJ Screw?” and since Robert liked it, he kept it.
DJ Screw originated his trademark style in 1990 by slowing down the pitch of the record which was dubbed as “Screwed”. During these years is when he would invite some of the local emcees to rap on some of his mixes. They would eventually be known as the Screwed-Up Click. People would line up outside of Screw’s home just to purchase one of his mix tapes. He opened the first Screwed Up Records & Tapes on 7717 Cullen Blvd in Houston, TX.
However after his death the landlord, Dr. Pondexter, reclaimed the space that was leased to the record store to expand his dental practice. Pondexter first raised the issue shortly after DJ Screw passed in 2000, and has mentioned it periodically since that time. Screwed Up owners have reportedly offered Pondexter $100,000 to buy the shack, which Pondexter declined.
Robert Earl Davis, Jr. passed away on November 16, 2000. He died of a codeine overdose in addition to mixed drug intoxication. The codeine came from a prescription-strength cough syrup that he would mix with soda to concoct a beverage called purple drank. In addition to codeine, Valium and PCP were also found in his blood.
The man may have passed away but his legacy will forever live on. DJ Screw’s style is now known worldwide and can be heard on numerous popular records across the world.