DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution

Univ. of Texas. (American Music). Apr. 2022. 312p. ISBN 9781477325131. $29.95. MUSIC
In this fascinating oral history chronicling the life of DJ Screw, written 22 years after his death, Houston rap historian Walker (Houston Rap Tapes) explores the artist’s electrifying “chopped and screwed” technique and how it vastly changed Houston’s trendsetting hip-hop culture. Walker relies on the vivid stories of Screw’s family members and contemporaries and sorts through archived interviews to paint a detailed picture of Screw’s techniques, his motivations, and his fearless experimentation. Readers learn how Screw discovered at a young age that he could manipulate the music of others, reinventing songs by slowing them down, mixing and scratching them, and often adding his own vocal shout-outs at the end. By 23 he was receiving attention outside of Houston, culminating in recognition at the 1999 Justo’s Mixtape Awards. Screw converted his art form into a sustaining business, opening Screwed Up Records & Tapes and single-handedly extending the life of cassette tapes.
VERDICT Walker’s years of research and personal expertise about Houston’s music scene will help cement Screw’s legacy as an innovator who still inspires.
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