DJ Screw created the entire Houston hip-hop scene almost single-handedly, then put it on the national map. This intriguing DVD traces his rise from novice record-scratcher through his death in November 2000.
DJ Screw, aka Robert Davis Jr., became synonymous with a style of mixing in which the music is slowed down, or "screwed," to mimic the effects of chugging codeine cough syrup. A record rat in the mid-'90s, Screw began by making mixtapes for friends to rap over. Demand exploded to the point where Screw had to keep regular hours at his front gate. Fans lined the streets around his house, hoping to pick up their favorite DJ Screw mixes featuring local rappers. The cops thought he was selling drugs.
Screw didn't try to tie his artists to record deals or extort cash. Instead, he grew the scene by picking the artists most deserving of the exposure he could provide them. But Screw's tendency to party hard took its toll, and at age 29, he was found dead from a heart attack widely believed to have been caused by his abuse of cough syrup and alcohol. The DVD features testimony from such notable Houston rappers as Lil' Flip, Lil' Keke, Big Pokey, and Jim "Hawk" Hawkins, who was shot to death two weeks after giving this interview. It's a fascinating story, occasionally marred by poor sound.