Considering the countless hours of music created by DJ Screw, trying to identify his greatest tracks is quite a task. But for true Screwheads that have taken the time to comb through his impressive catalogue, there are a few that should automatically be on the list. Here’s a proper introduction, or a reminder of, the slowed down greatness of Screw.
June 27th Freestyle – Arguably one of the greatest freestyles to come out of Texas, “June 27th” has morphed into one of Houston’s unofficial anthems. To clear things up, it’s the birthdate of D-Mo, a frequent SUC collaborator. Using a Kriss Kross sample called “Da Streets Ain’t Right,” DJ Screw put together a hard-hitting lineup that included Yungstar, Big Pokey and Big Moe. Easily one of Screw’s most recognizable songs, it’s since made its way around the globe. Not to mention, it’s the track that Drake used for his own birthday homage, “November 18th.”
Pimp Tha Pen – If you’re in a Texas club and hear “I’m draped up and dripped out. Know what I’m talkin bout…” just know that it’s about to go down. Instantly recognizable, it’s a line that anyone who knows or loves Houston music can finish. Though DJ Screw and Lil Keke created plenty of bangers together, this is easily one of their most famous freestyles. Pairing Too $hort’s “Cocktales” with UGK’s “Pocket Full of Stones,” Keke’s oh-so-southern drawl makes for an unforgettable, genuine H-Town, screwed up experience.
25 Lighters Freestyle – The term “25 Lighters” has come to be a staple in Houston lingo. Yes sir. In 1996 Lil Keke and Big Pokey teamed up with DJ Screw for the “25 Lighters Freestyle,” perfectly embodying Houston’s slow drippin’ culture. There’s no mistaking the influence that early Screw tapes carried, this being one of the best examples. Whether “Coming dine, coming through, know what I’m sayin,” there’s nothing quite like a Houston freestyle. This freestyle serves as an introduction to everything Screwston and with a sample from Keith Sweat, what’s not to like?
Peepin’ In My Window Freestyle – Aside from how ridiculously good this beat sounds screwed up, Lil Keke showcased his freestyle skills, all up and down this track. The back and forth between Keke and Big Pokey when he falls off the beat is something to marvel at, as fun as it is competitive. It’s hard to keep track of how many times its been sampled, but it’s reach can be heard across the globe. Simply put, it’s one of those tracks that makes you want to find the nearest mic and freestyle your damn self.
City of Syrup – Alternately titled “Bang Screw,” this is easily one of the most enjoyable songs to ever come out of Houston. The beat feels good, the music feels good and with Big Moe singing on the track, you can’t help but feel it. All we want to do, is bang screw; and nothing and nobody will stop that. Z-Ro even breaks his usual standoffish demeanor to celebrate the greatness that is Screw music. If you’re ever having a bad day, turn this track on and watch life get better instantly – specifically Moe’s verse, followed by the hook.