Chopped and screwed (also known as screwed and chopped, slowed and throwed, Houston music, H-Town music, screw music, screw, and S.L.A.B. (Slow Loud And Bangin)) all refer to a technique of remixing hip hop music by slowing the tempo and applying various DJ techniques such as:
- skipping beats
- record scratching
- delay (also known as doubling echo)
- sending portions of the music through stand-alone effects to make a "chopped-up" version of the original.
It is similar in many ways to dub reggae.
The style was developed in Houston, Texas by DJ Screw, which remains the location most associated with the style. The late DJ Screw, a South Houston DJ, is credited with the creation of and early experimentation with the genre. DJ Screw began making mixtapes of Houston rappers' slowed-down music in the early 1990s. Originally, this process involved mixing two copies of the same record, slowed down either on the turntables using pitch shift or, later, through use of an after-mixer device. Phasing, Flanging and echo effects were originally the result of the two records being played at millisecond intervals.
Some Houston-area artists (e.g. Ganksta N-I-P and Willie D) began to incorporate the slowed tempo into rap songs. Willie D's Die, from the album I'm Goin Out Lika Soldier, featured a slowed-down sample of Scarface's line "Balls and my word" (from the feature film) well before chopped and screwed gained more mainstream acceptance.
The genre was associated with both the use of marijuana and the consumption of "syrup," prescription cough syrup which can contain the narcotic drugs codeine or hydrocodone in combination with other things like promethazine (not the dissociative-anesthetic drug dextromethorphan found in over-the-counter Robitussin, as is often mistaken). This has been credited with influencing the genre's psychedelic style.
DJ Screw made a significant number of mixtapes (purported to be in the thousands), usually with a theme. This provided a significant outlet for MCs in the south Houston area, and helped local rappers such as Lil' Flip, E.S.G., UGK, Lil' Keke, and Z-Ro gain regional and sometimes national prominence. Early tapes were often screwed and chopped versions of instrumentals over which rappers would later freestyle, but later tapes were mostly vocal tracks with occasional toasting or freestyle intermissions. By the time of Screw's death in 2000, the genre had become widely known throughout the southern United States.
Mississippi rapper David Banner released a chopped and screwed version of his Mississippi: The Album in 2003, marking one of the first efforts by a Mississippi artist. Other southern recording artists, including Eightball and MJG, Lil' Troy, The Geto Boys, MC Breed, and Three 6 Mafia, as well as Chicago's Do or Die, had similar success.
Currently, the style is exemplified in the music of Swishahouse DJs such as OG Ron C and Michael 5000 Watts. Their work has helped establish current rappers Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, and Mike Jones, and rap groups such as The Color Changin' Click and the Screwed Up Click. More major recording labels have embraced the genre, and chopped and screwed albums occasionally outsell their unmixed counterparts.
Paul Wall's commercial success in 2005 has made him the most prominent artist working within the genre. All former members of. It also marked a movement in production technique from turntables to the use of Vinyl Emulation Software. Paul Wall appeared on MTV Jams during the summer of 2005 to host a block of chopped and screwed music videos and to talk about the remix technique he uses. In April 2005 the first albums from the genre were made available at the iTunes Music Store.
During the first half of 2005, numerous popular urban music videos were released in a chopped and screwed form in addition to their original. Among the videos released are:
- Still Tippin' by Mike Jones
- You Gonna Luv Me by Da Back Wudz
- Na-NaNa-Na by Nelly
- Wait (The Whisper Song) by Ying Yang Twins
- Dem Boyz by Boyz N Da Hood
- What U Gon' Do by Lil' Jon
- Some Cut by Trillville
- You Don't Know Me by T.I.
- Smile by Scarface [originally released in 1997, but released in the summer of 2005 as a Screwed & Chopped remix video]
- Game Over by Lil' Flip
- Ridin' by Chamillionaire
- Sittin Sidewayz by Paul Wall
- Drive Slow by Kanye West (at the end)
The genre occasionally lends itself to other musical genres; Paul Wall remixed The Transplants' album Haunted Cities in 2005 and The Black Eyed Peas' 2005 album Monkey Business, despite both albums being outside the rap genre.
- Kid B, published in 2006 by Houghton Mifflin, was the first novel to feature Screw culture and lingo.