Future Screw: The Internet’s Version of Houston’s Chopped and Screwed
“We hear all the time that we are just songjackers and [that we] have no skills,” says Hot Britches, a DJ and the self-proclaimed founder of #neversleep.
Britches was responding to the news, from earlier this month, that Future Screw founder Trill Scott Heron’s SoundCloud was shut down for copyright infringement. The account had thousands of followers, featured over 120 remixes and edits made by Trill and his peers, and was the defining Soundcloud for the genre for a two-year period.
But what is Future Screw? It’s the new breed of Chopped and Screwed, the slowed-down “chopped and screwed” sub-genre cooked up in Houston by its namesake, DJ Screw. It has since established itself as one of the most revered and loyally followed sub-genres within rap music.
Future Screw references the same slowed-down aesthetic as Chopped and Screwed, but it embraces modern, trap-laden, EDM influences. In other words, Future Screw is the chopped-and-screwed version of modern electronic dance music, with Dutch house synths, affected stutters, and a vibrant Tumblr aesthetic to distinguish itself.
In a recent email correspondence with Future Screw Crew producer El Blanco Nino, the artist put it thus:
“It’s more Internet-based. … Most of us are influenced and/or involved in SoundCloud so there’s a wealth of great music that is coming out—mostly for free—that we can chop up.”
But the die-hard traditionalism of the original Chopped and Screwed has kept many Future Screw producers and newcomers on the defensive.
When interviewed by Jenesis Magazine, Chopstar DJ signee Slim K went into detail about the C&S scene and its fans’ intense loyalty: “People are very serious in the culture, especially in Houston. Enthusiasts don’t like you to call a mix “screwed” if it wasn’t created by the originator himself, Robert Earle Davis (DJ Screw),” he said.
“I never really caught hate, some people will still feel that if it isn’t by Screw, it’s not true, and I understand that.”
Nino acknowledges that “without DJ Screw’s work there wouldn’t be Future Screw.”
But: “I would like to believe that as the people that started Future Screw we are bridging the gap between his work and the world of electronic music, exposing him to an audience he would of never thought of reaching.
“Genres are made and splintered at such a fast rate that people begin to hop onto the movement making their own chops, but calling them something entirely different.”
Keeping this dichotomy in mind, most Future Screw producers try to be self-aware, embracing the sub-niche’s differences while still respecting their elders. In fact, when comparing Future Screw to all of Chopped and Screwed’s various iterations, there may be be more similarities than differences. Both styles revere DJ Screw, are mixed around the 60-70 BPM mark, and are entirely grassroots affairs which started on the streets of Houston and ended on the Internet.
Future Screw is simply taking a previous generation’s music and flipping it into a new form. And what’s more hip-hop than that?
In Screw we trust.
Update: Trill Scott Heron has been re-uploading material to Soundcloud on to a new account. You can follow, stream, and download his work here.
Image: Trill Shox