The Ten (Or So) Most Vital Screw Tapes Of All Time

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Photos by Marco Torres
Monday, at the Screwed Up Records & Tapes shop (7717 Cullen Blvd.), from at least 5:20 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. (and likely beyond), the magnanimous Southside, a man who has worked the window there for the past decade or so, sat quiet as a plum. He was reading a Bible, of all things.

It's appropriate, what with the store's closing date a little more than a week away, but only if you're trying extra hard to be clever. The Bible is the Bible, and reading it is rarely an analogy for anything. The store is closing and that's that. Shit.

No one will speak on where, or even when, the new location will open, only that one eventually will. So with sad eyes, we asked Southside the most clichéd, most complex simple question we could: Were someone who had never listened to Screw to wander into the store, which ten tapes would you describe to that person as being the most vital?

His response: Pursed lips for half a second, then, "I can make you a list." In a little less than two minutes, scribbled in no real order on the back of an old receipt, he'd written down 12.

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June 27: This is perhaps the most iconic Screw tape of all time, featuring an untold number of quotables When it opens with a glassy melody, "That nigga Big Ass Moe," it is just about aristocratic. Something a lot of people don't realize: There are two discs to the tape, as there were with the other tapes. The second one, the one with the Moe/Yungstar/D-Mo/Pokey freestyle, is the one that has aged to become hip-hop divinity. The first CD has songs by Ice T, Bone, Tupac, Freshes MC, Too Short, No Limit and Botany Boys.

The Next Episode

N 2 Deep: Remember? This is the one that opened with Eminem's "I'm Shady" and somehow slithered into 112's "Only You." This one is particularly highly ranked among Southwest Houstonians, on account of the first CD ending with a Guerilla Maab squared moment, where Screw backdoored the monstrously specific regional hit "Fondren and Main" with their mostly underappreciated "Friends Inst."

Eyes On the Prize: Something that became neat about this one: the first disc ends with the tinky-tinks of "Rule Number 1," which featured Pimp C, blending into Lil Troy's megahit "Wanna Be a Baller," whom, of course, Pimp would eventually go on to destroy in the most lopsided rapper beef in history. That thing about the nail versus the hammer, that's what happened between those two.

In The Door

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Plots & Schemes: This one opens with Notorious B.I.G.'s "You're Nobody," followed by E-40's "With Me," followed with "Thoughts Of Another Time," which featured 8 Ball. That's a Cool Fat Black Guy trifecta, yo. Maybe Screw didn't stitch those ones together like that for that particular purpose, but maybe he did. Who knows? Either way, it plays.

Headed 2 Da League

Hold Ya Head: It speaks to DJ Screw's brilliance that here he almost - almost - made Shaq sound cool rapping. O'Neal's 1996 not-altogether-unsalvageable song "Can't Stop The Reign" is the second track on the first disc.

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Ahh I mean "I done sailed the Atlantic, swamp the Pacific


The No More Pain tape was a great one, the one that was mainly all Street Military freestyles, also the UGK Ridin Dirty screw tape, Blue 22, and Southside Riders (who doesnt know HAWK's "I done swam the Atlantic, swam the Pacific line?)


Down n Out, The Final Chapter, Killuminati...the list goes on but these three will always have a special place for me personally because of where i heard them, who i heard them with, and where i was in my life when i heard them.  Thank you, Screwed Up Records and Tapes, your legacy reaches far beyond 7717 Cullen. 


Man... The Freestyles on Plots & Schemes & Headed To The League... Goddamn. The "If I Could Change" instrumental was legendary at the time, and Keke & Pokey went IN on that shit. Poke murdered Headed To The League as well.

No room for 10 Deep or No Drank, Elmtree Crawfish or Only Rollin Red?

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