Dont Blow No Green On Empty Stomachs

On my way back from SXSW to New Orleans we stopped to pay tribute to the late great DJ Screw at Screwed Up Records and Tape. The interior of the shop is super minimal- a rack of RIP SCREW tall tee’s and a couple of well worn binders with lists of hundreds of Screw CD’s and Tapes. While I was browsing the catalog a middle-aged woman walked in and asked the young cashier behind the bulletproof transaction counter about a CD she was looking for. He responded, “We only sell screwed up music here, m’am.” Of course, they had the latest Z-Ro mixes and some other Southern artists- but she thanked him and left. In the land of Swisha House  the air was heavy with dank.

Here’s an extra tape compressed, phased, distorted, heavy, heavy Screw version of the Master P’s blunt and heem anthem. It came on this morning while I rode to school- I tried to bump it- but the sound refuses to ever return to its Caddy and Box Chevy 12″ king-kong in the trunk glory. The newer Screwed tapes from DJ Michael Watts and the rest are Serato Box Fresh – but something about these poorly transcoded and squashed tapes keep me coming back. The distortion is a reminder of the sounds displacement, forcing you to reflect on Houston and a particular draped up and dripped out southern ambiance.

DJ Screw – Pass Me the Green (Master P)[audio:]


  1. yeah, Screw was sort of like the Lee Perry of hip hop. “Heart of the Congos” wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t sound like duppies had eaten the reels, just like newer digital era screw just isn’t as good.


  2. Great, great track.

    I’ll agree with the Screw as Lee Perry theme. I won’t agree that digital era screw just isn’t as good, though. It’s just different, and I feel like there’s a few different types of energy that the digital stuff can tap into that doesn’t happen on Screw’s tapes. Check out Swisha House’s Blow One 2K8 for proof.

    That said, I definitely prefer Screw’s tapes and shit-fidelity for reasons beyond just nostalgia for my hometown and hearing this stuff as a 12 year old watching Straight from the Streets (where I first encountered DJ Screw’s music through these brief little ads that were all kinds of dark). The sonic displacement Taliesin’s talking about is doubly true since, back when Screw started this whole thing, he was slowing down a lot of stuff that wasn’t meant to be slowed down. Nowadays, a lot of Houston/southern rap is made more consciously of the fact that it’s going to sound a certain way screwed, chopped and flanged.

    I really, really recommend 3 N the Mornin’ Part Two to anyone interested in these sounds. It contains so many historic Houston tracks that have been sampled for a lot of familiar hooks, and it’s just the most original psychedelia to have happened in the last thirty years. Sample:

  3. Dave- for sure on perry thoughts, real mark of the technological beast

    Thanks so much for your input. I wasnt trying to say the new screw tapes are wack- I just like the analog to digital patina.

    I’ll check for 3 in the mornin- havnt heard that one yet. Its hard to tell with so many tapes floating around- although not as many floating digitally as I’d like- whats quality so a recommendation is great… (personal fave of mine is Endonesia)

    Two other notes: I’ve always been really impressed with how screw DID NOT seem to give a fuck about any notion of rap regionalism beyond repping the south. IE Youll here biggie and pac on the same side of a tape. Of course, once run through the hands of Screw (especially with some distorted vocal doubles added on top to choruses and particularly potent lines) no matter where a track originate it becomes H-O-U-S-T-O-N.

    2nd- do you know- technically what was happening in Screws lab. IE- with the freestyle tapes it sounds like sets were recorded with full speed instrumentals and regular vocals- then slowed down. Is there a 45 to 33 setting on some commercial tape players?

    I always thought that the song mixes were just recorded with vinyl 12″s cut at 45 and he played them at 33- but its always escaped me how the freestyle cuts were done.. except the ones where its sounds like dudes just rapped over slowed down inst. without their voices getting screwed.

    thats a bit unclear i guess.. but any elucidation would be helpful

  4. Ah, I wasn’t responding to you, Taliesin, so much as Dave Quam’s statement that digital-era screw just isn’t as good. Different strokes, different folks, for sure, and I’m not sure we’re really disagreeing all that much anyway.

    1. Part of why I’m so big on 3 in the Mornin’ pt. 2 is that it’s the first one where he makes a concerted effort to just gather local, southern artists. I definitely love that, for the most part, he just screwed everything from everywhere.

    2. This link to a short interview has about as much as I’ve ever read him discussing his methods and origins. Anything else I know is basically folklore, oral tradition :)

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