DJ Screw The Legend Review
There’s a solid duality with The Legend, a DJ Screw tape released in 2001 that was one of the first posthumous Screw tapes. For one, it operates as a regular Screw tape filled with Screw’s shoutouts, his rather particular beat selection and chop on the spot techniques. In another, it pretty much resonates as a legacy tape from everybody who Screw had ever impacted from his early tapes in the mid-‘90s to his zenith in the late ‘90s.
It feels like Screw’s presence, his languid, slowed down drawl are ethereal on The Legend. Just from the tape’s cover, a fading image of him right next to a blue Chevy and people can instantly pick up on the main ethos of The Legend. Screw is eternal and this collection, a twisting endeavor that bridges so many gaps and artists of Screw’s choosing is proof of it.
Two Lil’ Keke records, 1995’s “Pimp The Pen” & 1997’s “It’s Going Down” show up on the first half of The Legend. The center of the Screwed Up Click in Fat Pat sadly doesn’t appear. Slim Thug, a Northside rapper who by all means could have heard his first Screw tape via a bootlegger because Southside Houston was its own universe at the time, appears on “The Legend”. E.S.G. happens to introduce Thug on the tape, acting as the same conduit that made Screw beam when he heard “Swangin’ N Bangin” back in 1995. Amongst all of Screw’s favorites to splice into his mixes, he never could let go of E.S.G.’s classic. That was his baby and it was what made E.S.G an instant member of the Screwed Up Click.
The variety of acts that exist on The Legend is massive. K-Rino’s one of the few who has an entire track to himself, a burly knock around called “Why You Wanna Hate” where he admits to giving a middle finger to mainstream rap, choosing “knowledge over nonsense” in his words. Big Chance, one of the few to be part of the eight Screw tapes in 2000 gets to joyride around a mashup of Richard Pryor standup, Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” and Eazy-E’s “Boyz N The Hood” for a Southside flip. What was firmly established by The Legend was that Screwed Up Click members were going to morph select R&B or rap records and set it to a Southside template. “The 3rd Coast” from Big Chance, Big T, Big Tho & Lil’ Flex clearly lifts Too Short’s “The Ghetto” and to an extent the Donny Hathaway version too. They were shameless remixes, lean addled goof off sessions turned serious.
What The Legend attempts to accomplish in its massive two disc length is capture everything about Screw. His penchant for mixing on the fly, his disdain for other DJs bootlegging his tapes and saying they were Screw. On a skit featuring a stuttering bootlegger whose flummoxed by the fact he’s in Screw’s presence, the DJ’s crew retorts, “I promise, they just gon’ do a tape. A n*gga named Jeff or a n*gga named Bob do a tape and say, ‘I got a Screw tape.’ You ain’t go no Screw tape, man. You got a Bob or a Jeff tape or whatever the f*ck your name is, that’s what you got. Know’m sayin’?.”
Another man backdoors, “If DJ Screw didn’t do it, it’s not a Screw tape.” It’s the lasting ideal left from any of Screw’s mixes, but especially on The Legend.
Once Ronnie Spencer & Miss Asiah croon their own version of a eulogy for Screw, a chapter is effectively gone. No more street odes from UGK and PSK-13 on 1997’s “Like Yesterday” where PSK-13 can bridge his criminal history with childhood memories of Schoolhouse Rock. No more rare Ice-T sightings on “I Ain’t Hating”, all of the newness to a Screw tape will fade into the ether. What watershed moment 3 ’n The Mornin’ Pt. 2 created for Screw on a music level and what the creation of Screwed Up Records & Tapes did for Screw’s legitimacy in business, The Legend adds to it by effectively showing Screw’s reach. The Legend only flexed for six years and those six years effectively created the sound of Houston and to an extent, the sound of now.