Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Mourning...............

"Around that time, I heard my first gray tape/
1994, Hurricane Duck, up on the playscape/
That Soul II Soul intro, ironic cuz it brought me back to life."
- Sandman- Screw Shop Freestyle

So yesterday was the 8th anniversary of the death of the man who had a MUCH bigger influence on my life (along with every other kid from the hood in Texas in the mid-90's) than Biggie, Pac, and Eazy E all put together.

Talmbout DJ Screw, noamsayin'. Robert Davis Jr, fool. The originator. You forgot my gunshots, Screw yoooooooou.

So why didn't I make this post yesterday? Cuz he died on the 16th, but I found out on Nov. 17th, so this is my day of mourning, ya feel me.

I remember walkin' up to the back of Crockett High on that day in 2000, to the woods where all the gangbangers chilled on benches smokin' blunts before class, and for the first time ever it was quiet. No music, no yelling, no shameless girls dancing tryin' to fill the void their foster parents couldn't (yeah, it was a lot more fun than sittin' in the lunchroom next to the nerds playin' with magic cards). Everyone was just sittin' with their heads down. Black, white, mexican kids, all sittin' together lookin' like they saw a ghost. Or maybe hoping they would. When they told me DJ Screw died in his studio the night before, I just sat on the bench along with everyone else and couldn't say anything. The bell for first period rang and nobody moved. After maybe 15 minutes, someone popped in the gray tape of "The Final Chapter" from '96. Not the best tape he ever made but the most fitting eulogy any of us dro-baked dumbasses could put together on the spot.

In retrospect we couldn't have picked a better tape, since a) it was a Tupac heavy tape, and b) it had Lil' Keke flowin' over the beat for Bone Thugs "Crossroads".

8 years later, and every year it seems Screw's legacy is fading more and more, even in Texas. Some people like to blame it on the new generation of Houston rappers not paying homage enough. Others use MTV along with the trendy "hip hop is dead" meme to scapegoat the new generation of young fans out to be undereducated or ignorant. I don't buy into any of that bullshit. To me it's a lot simpler than that. Screw was an isolated phenomenon in one small region of the country. It was a huge movement, but an underground one that never crossed over to the mainstream (though definitely in some dope backdoor ways that few people noticed). Those thousands of kids who it did touch, called themselves (to this day) "screwheads", and that's how I'll always describe myself as well. But look around..............look at your friends...............the screwheads are grown now. Even those of us who were in the youngest group of Screw fans back in the mid-90's (I was 9 when I heard my first screw tape in 1994), are in our mid-to-late 20's now. To put it simply, Screwheads got kids, got married, got corporate jobs, moved out of Texas, and just generally became squares. So who are the ambassadors to carry on the legacy? 30 year old computer programmers drinkin' purple margaritas at Baby A's with their co-workers?

Just face it. It was a moment in time that doesn't translate real well to the new millennium rap scene, and let's be real, didn't much translate to the 90's rap scene either. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Why does it have to be? Music movements come and go. I'm sure there was a lotta Cocteau Twins fans pissed off when the 80's ended and they realized that the shoegaze walls of sound that changed their lives weren't translating too well to the grunge takeover of the 90's.

Fuck it. The Kids are Alright. Just because the movement you were a part of isn't relevant anymore, doesn't mean it was somehow taken away from you forever. As long as we got the tapes, we have the culture. And really it just makes the music that much more meaningful to the holdovers who don't forget, who I might add were already obsessed with hoarding rare gray tapes back when there was a lot less rares than there is becoming now (shoutouts to, home of the rare-tape hermit crabs).

Still it's weird to think that the next generation of kids in Central Texas won't grow up in an environment where you can't walk past a stoplight without ten cars bangin' screw so loud it shakes your eardrums like maracas.

I remember ridin' with my boy Donnie at 4 in the morning bangin' "Da Funk is on Your Mind" tape over and over, sittin' in the parking lot of Chalmers Court projects for hours jammin' the Fat Pat and Keke freestyle, still one of my favorite tracks ever.

I remember in 9th grade sneakin' a bottle of apple juice filled with Tequila into english class, and gettin' so drunk I fell asleep on my desk with my walkman on. Of course, I woke up with an empty walkman, and someone had stole my "Still a G at 27" tape. Whoever it was, I hope he/she got as much pleasure out of it as I did, cuz I wore that cotdamn tape out.

I could go on like that for pages, but I'll leave it at this.

R.I.P. DJ Screw

Thanks for giving Texas something of our own


Killa B said...

RIP to da greatest to ever do it

She W0rd Hustlez said...

Man, this brought back some memories, good and bad. I was in the 10th grade when DJ Screw died. It was a long bus ride to school that morning man. My school was out of district for me, and we traveled about 30 to 40 minutes to get there every morning. All we did on the bus was jam screw. We freestyled in the back off of screw's instrumentals. Nothing sounded right back then if it wasn't screwed up. I lived for a Fuck Action CD, and I remember having to black out the word "fuck" on my cd's incase my mama found it, loll.

You know what though? That era is never going to die, and DJ Screw started that. Michael Watts would be out of a job, if it wasn't for DJ Screw. Slim Thug, Paul Wall, KeKe, Camillionare, Fat Pat, Big Hawk, Big Moe, Lil' Flip, Z-ro, Trae; all of these dude's wouldn't have been the same if it weren't for DJ Screw. I appreciate this post man, because so many people clown Texas for so many reasons, but our untouchable creativity in music makes me proud.

Sandman said...

@ she w0rd hustlez

We must be 'bout the same age then, cuz I think I was in the 10th grade too.

I feel what you sayin' about the era never dying, Screw's legacy is still inside all the new generation of Texas rappers who were influenced the way I was. But I guess I'm moreso talkin' about the style of music and the culture that surrounded the screw movement. Even cats like Z-ro and Flip, who were part of the extended Screw up Click before Screw passed, they still don't have the same vibe in their music as the original tapes. That ain't necessarily a bad thing, Z-ro is one of my favorite rappers of all time, but I consider all them separate from that mid-90's time period. I agree with you though. The legacy will never die.

And I feel you on the Fuck Action tapes, lol. I had to dub them hoes on blank tapes so my mama wouldn't see 'em. Around the same time period I was hiding all my Outkast "ATLiens" CD cuz it had the naked female on the label, lol.

Bohemian Bookworm said...

In Houston definitely, his presence and influence has not faded. My high school years were straight saturated with Screw and the gang type music, lol.

No matter how much the rap music scene changes, DJ Screw and thus by extension Houston/Texas made a permanent stamp on it...trailblazers!

Sorry I didn't see this post earlier, lol (referencing your later post about this).