Dallas

Dallas Celebrates DJ Screw Day By Paying Tribute to the Man Who Shaped Texas Hip-Hop

Texas hip-hop history is not complete without the mention of Robert Earl Davis Jr., known musically as DJ Screw. In Houston, June 27 is reserved to honor Screw. The tempo slows down as the city plays respect to the founder of chopped and screwed, a subgenre of hip-hop that has become synonymous with Texas hip-hop. Dallas, too, is giving Screw his flowers.

On DJ Screw Day, Dallas multimedia company DENUHMUG is premiering its third rendition of “Screw Done Already Warned Me,” a program curated to play tribute to Screw and his collective Screwed Up Click at Texas Theatre.

“DJ Screw and the Screwed Up click is a state thing, a country thing,” DENUHMUG owner Francisco Santillan says. “Screw done screwed up the world already; it’s a worldwide thing.”

DJ Screw Day is not Screw’s birthday. Nor is it the anniversary of his death. He died Nov. 16, 2000. DJ Screw Day is the anniversary of the recording of “Chapter 012: June 27th,” a 35-minute freestyle by rappers Big Pokey, Key C, Kay-Luv, Yungstar, Big Moe, Haircut Joe and DeMo. The date is also DeMo’s birthday, and the freestyle is often referenced as “DeMo’s Birthday Tape.”

“When I was down there [Houston], DeMo was like, ‘People in Houston have June 27 celebrations all day, every day and no one has ever called me, and it’s my birthday tape,’ so he’s like, ‘The fact that the first time that someone calls me, it’s from a Mexican kid in Dallas, that’s crazy to me,’” Santillan says. “I was really proud of that, that I might be even doing Houston better than Houston could do. That’s not my intention, with all my respect, but I’m trying to put together something that makes sense, that is cohesive and educational for people that are not in tune with Screw culture.”

Santillan was introduced to chopped and screwed at 19 years old when a neighborhood friend introduced him to ZRo’s first album Look What You Did to Me. Through his research, he became embedded in the screwed culture. He curated each aspect of “Screw Done Already Warned Me” with intentionality and authenticity. The program features SUC members Bird, Stick 1, DeMo, DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution author Lance Walker, chopped and screwed DJ GlockedUp225 and podcaster Donny Houston.

The inaugural “Screw Done Already Warned Me” in 2019 was at Strangeways. In 2020, Top Ten Records partnered with Santillan to host the event. Both events had DJ sets that went beyond the hip-hop anthems such as Big Tuck’s “Southside da Realist” and delved into underground chopped and screwed tracks.

As a fan of music criticism and archiving, Santillan wanted to further elevate the event this time around. Lance Walker proved instrumental to his vision.

Walker bridged the communication between SUC and Santillan. This allowed Santillan to coordinate interviews with SUC members in Houston, where he got details of Screw’s life, archives of his hip-hop influence and an understanding of the “screwed up” lifestyle and ideology behind it.

“I was really proud of that, that I might be even doing Houston better than Houston could do.” –DENUHMUG owner Francisco Santillan

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“Not only does screwed up lifestyle mean riding in slabs, jammin’ the music and indulging yourself in what it is to be in the culture, but it also means to take steps forward to keep it alive and keep pushing it forward however you can independently,” Santillan says. “The screwed up lifestyle is far more than drink and drugs and just doing nonsense.”

Santillan also commemorates Screw’s legacy by adopting Screw’s business ideology. Screw did not follow the masses. His unwavering independence is still an inspiration to the culture he helped create, even more than two decades after his death.

“The dude was Spotify, the dude was Pandora before they [were], the way he brung a new genre of slowing music down, the shouting out to your neighborhoods, you can almost know within yourself it was deep and it was going somewhere,” Rapper Stick 1 said in Santillan’s promo campaign.

Santillan practices this independence through his multimedia company where he promotes his and his collaborators’ music, videography, visual art and written art while retaining individuality. It is through that individuality that he means to transform the cultural fabric, much like the transformation Screw had on hip-hop.

“Screw Done Already Warned Me” will include a Q&A with Walker, a screening of the documentary DJ Screw: The Untold Story and an art exhibition in the Texas Theatre lobby, with the works of Dallas artists Adam Valles, Brandon Thompson, Lyzette Amador, Thomas Ramirez and Andréa Guerra Garza; New York’s Jeff Hemi, a Houston native; Alex Lujan, an Odessa native, will  also be debuting art in Texas for the first time as part of the program.

Doors open at 6 p.m. The screening will begin promptly at 7 p.m. at Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson St. ) and a live recording of
Donny Houston Podcast with SUC will follow. After an intermission, Walker will be in conversation with Stick 1 followed by a DJ GlockedUp225 set. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

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