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DJ Screw & Houston Hip Hop Materials Now Online

Digitization, Events, Exhibits, Houston Hip Hop
DJ Screw snapshot

DJ Screw at Samplified Digital Recording Studio, 1996

Get a sneak peak and the upcoming DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop exhibit in the new DJ Screw Photographs & Memorabilia digital collection!

DJ Screw was born Robert Earl Davis, Jr. in 1971. As a teenager on the South side of Houston, he began DJ-ing and making mixtapes of his favorite rap songs for friends. By the early nineties, he had begun slowing down the music on his tapes to a hypnotic crawl and emphasizing certain words and phrases by repeating them manually. Screw sold these “chopped and screwed” mixtapes directly to eager fans.

DJ Screw mixtape

Mixtape made by DJ Screw for Lil' Randy and Ron'O, 1999

Friends and local rappers began ordering personal tapes from Screw, and he invited the rappers to freestyle, or improvise, over beats at the beginning and end of the tapes. This group became known as the Screwed Up Click, and over time, the rappers themselves developed followings and many released successful independent solo albums.  in 1998 DJ Screw opened up Screwed Up Records and Tapes, a shop that sold only his mixtapes. It is estimated that DJ screw sold hundreds of thousands of mixtapes, in addition to releasing four studio albums.

On November 16, 2000, DJ Screw was found dead in his recording studio at the age of 29, his death ruled an overdose of codeine and other drugs.

HAWK notebook page 10

A page from a notebook belonging to SUC member HAWK

Among the items in this collection are photos of DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click and funeral programs for DJ Screw and other SUC members. The collection also includes a “screw tape” and the notebook of rapper HAWK. In the notebook,  you can see HAWK’s creative process as he works out rhymes for his raps. You can also see  how well he played dominoes, since he kept score in the same notebook.

These materials are a part of the larger exhibit that will be on view at the M.D. Anderson Library from March 19 through September 21. At the conclusion of the exhibit, selected materials will be added to this digital collection.

Also in March, the University of Houston and Rice University will host Awready!: The Houston Hip Hop Conference. To learn more about the conference and related events, and to register, check out the conference web site.

Watch this blog for more information about the exhibit, conference, and future digital collection additions.


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