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On June 27, We Celebrate DJ Screw’s Legendary Freestyle

DJ Screw‘s June 27, 35-minute freestyle is an essential part of Houston and hip-hop.

Time has a unique concept. Gaining control over time isn’t possible. What you do, within that time, is. Slowing down time would be a gift to many. Life is so fast-paced. We’re busy working, keeping up with the next person, digesting multiple streams of media — it’s a tiring cycle.

The pioneer of the slow-tempo pitch we’ve come to know as “chopped and screwed,” DJ Screw, let us live in a space where things weren’t so fast. With two turntables, he was able to “let [his fingers] do the talking,” as he said in 1999, a year prior to his demise. His style would serve as a representation of the south: hospitality, slow living and a laidback approach to life.

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During his short-but-impactful career, Screw played by his own rules. When we speak of June 27, it’s not his birthday or the date of his untimely death, it’s the day he recorded his 35-minute freestyle, featuring 7 other artists, on June 27, 1996. The song, recorded 23 years ago today, was recorded on DeMo’s (Screwed Up Click rapper) birthday. The freestyle features Big Moe, Yungstar, Key-c, Big Pokey, Demo, Haircut Joe, and Kay-Luv. They recorded their words over Kriss Kross’ “Da Streets Ain’t Right.” In Houston, today is known as DJ Screw Day.

Screw released over 300 mixtapes during his tenure and none are as popular as June 27th. On this day, June 27, we celebrate Houston and DJ Screw. The freestyle signifies a strength in Houston and also a strength in hip-hop culture.

While Screw was beginning to see how important his contributions to the art form was becoming, his untimely demise (at age 29) didn’t allow him to see how impactful it is today. When June 27 comes around, be sure you jam the freestyle. For hip-hop, for the Houston, for DJ Screw.