An Honest Conversation About Houston and Screw Music

It's not that we as listeners in a microwavable music world don't appreciate Screw music; it's possible that our time with the genre has moved on to bigger moments. Within a week, you're going to hear Screw continue worming its way into trap music when a chopped version of Baauer's "Harlem Shake" drops.

The more sought-after tapes, slowed to a crawl and timely spliced around, come from DJs remixing already-noted tracks and albums nationally. OG Ron C's recent FADER mix is a clear example of such practice, adding freewheeling hazy fun behind Drake's "Started From the Bottom" and Joe Ski Love's "Peewee's Dance" from the Pee-wee Herman Show.

Nationally, Screw is almost second nature.

Locally, it's a slight afterthought.

The conversation raged on Twitter, home of banter and arguments that seemingly go nowhere outside of general ego-stroking and humor. Houston's new class doesn't need Screw to finally break through the clutches of radio -- it simply wants to rap and create the sort of rider music that lasts more than six months.

Radio might ask them to write and push tracks incorporating the sound, which would be basically asking for six different Kirko Bangz tracks to come around as opposed to, say, six individual tracks from six different rappers. Imitation might be a bigger slap in the face than the actual homage-paying.

Quite possibly, we're in a realm of Houston rap where the outliers outweigh the traditionalists -- where RiFF RaFF can gain top billing and be known nationally, but locally almost be an oft-missed trivia question. Conversely, DeLorean or Killa Kyleon are far bigger local homegrown talents, but break through nationally with shows once every blue moon in New York.

Screw music does have a place in the history of Houston rap, much like boom-bap or synthesized rider music does in the genealogy and growth of the sounds of New York and Los Angeles.

But like those waves before, it's not a necessary instrument in making it big. It may funnel the conversation, but the conversations of yesteryear about hearing a group of guys on one tape are close to buried and gone.

The ghost of Screw still lingers around, but it's touching much more than Houston these days.

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Sergio R. Garcia
Sergio R. Garcia

Aside from the long, hot summers, and blue laws, I like Texas.

Nicholas Dion
Nicholas Dion

It needs to evolve. Feel like it's stuck in a time warp. And Rif Raff is garbage.


Screw was an innovator and his legacy extends beyond the specific careers he launched to the style he pioneered.  I equate the Screwed-up productions to those of the great Jamaican version remixers of the 70's King Tubby, Lee Perry, etc. who took the music of the local scene and created a new sound catering to the blunted ears of their fans.  I hope screwed up mixing similarly endures as a style and as an influence on future producers.  Of course there's only one Screw, and to this day, nobody does it better.

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