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An Interview With DJ Vurb – Chopped and Screwed


2 August 2002 No Comment

Check out this interview with DJ Vurb, from Austin TX USA.

Before we get into the heavy questions, can we ask who DJ Vurb is, what he does, and where he’s from?

I was born in Austin TX, and have lived here all of my 21 years. I’ve been a DJ for roughly 6 years now.

For those that don’t know can you explain to us what the terms ‘screwed’ and ‘chopped’ mean and can you also enlighten us to other terms that are associated with Screwed music.

The term “Screwed” is named after the techniques creator, DJ Screw, and is the process of slowing down the pitch of a song to a speed that the voice becomes a little slurred and you can really tell every word that is being said. Sometimes in faster songs it is hard to tell what is being said, when it’s screwed out, each word comes by a little slower making it to where you can almost “feel” each word as it comes through your ears. “Chopped” is the process of running the song back one step before a certain word or beat that the DJ wants to be repeated. Chopping is hard to explain and is much better understood by just hearing it. I would say the chopping is the hardest part to master of this type of music. First you must get the process down, but furthermore you must have an ear to know where the chops would sound good. I’ll admit that for at least 3 years of working at it my chops still sounded like crap. Even now I am improving with each CD. All of the other aspects of screwed music are taken from tradition.

Myself being a big fan of the rap from the dirty south, can you tell us a bit more about the scene there and how it differs to e.g. New York?

The scene here is a lot more underground I would say. Well not underground in the classical sense, but more like underground to Texas. There are a lot of rappers here that we consider to be big time artists and are known all around Texas and a few bordering states, but you could go to New York or California and 99 out of 100 would say “Who?”. Down here the rap has a more country sound to it. A couple artists to look at for an example of this would be UGK, Big Moe, etc. We also like our cars different, while the East Coast is talking about it now, 5 years ago you never heard a NY rapper talking about rolling on some 20 inch rims (none that I ever heard at least). It seems like the dirty south is just now starting to come up in the rap world. Even though the same talents have been here for 5-10 years, we are just now starting to get some of the recognition we deserve.

We know that DJ Screw is the originator of this shit, but exactly how many DJ’s are out there doing this screw music and are there any we should be taking note of?

There are probably 30-50 different DJ’s doing this type of music. Most are doing it to make a quick buck from it and will fade soon or have already faded due to their lack of talent. When it comes to actual talent, there’s only a handful. DJ Michael “5000” Watts, Ron C, DJ Bull, the DJ for the group Beltway 8 in Houston, and maybe one or two more that I’m forgetting at the moment.

You mentioned that you do “screwed” remixes of other artists tracks for their albums, are these local crews? Feel like dropping some names?

I’ve done a couple CD’s for the Blak Sunz (local), Mr Nize and Nize Entertainment (Dallas, TX), a many startup type groups mainly locally here in Austin, but some in Atlanta, GA, and even as far away as a group in California if you can believe. I get requests for quotes all the time but the problem with a lot of these smaller groups is that they don’t have the funds to really get anything done. I tend to charge considerably less than the other big names in the biz, but to a lot of these groups, $75-100 a track still seems like too much for them to put up. What they don’t realize is that they can release a CD, then 6 months later release a “screwed and chopped” version of the same CD and make a substantial amount of extra profit with little to no effort on the part of the artist. They can in essence, sell the CD twice.

Can you tell us how you approach a track and what do you use to screw the music?

First I listen to the track in its slowed down form to see if it even sounds good screwed, some songs don’t. If it does, I listen to what kind of beat the song has. This is also a determining factor cuz the beats of some songs just don’t like to be chopped, etc. If the beat is good I decide just how slow I want it to be by playing around with it a bit. Faster songs and songs with people with higher pitched voices can be slowed down quite a bit and sound good. On the other hand, if the artist has a deep voice or the song has a slow beat, the song can only be slowed down a bit, sometimes just enough to where you can tell it’s not at normal speed. Sometimes I’ll like the speed that the song is at but then right before I release the CD speed it up a bit or slow it a little more.

Can you give us a history lesson in Screw music, how did Screw come up with this?

There is some controversy as to how it got started. Some will say that it started in the clubs in Florida in the late 80’s. Others say that DJ Screw was the first to slow down a song. Either way, there ‘s no doubt as to who made it popular and made it what it is today –- DJ Screw. Screw was said to have been playing around with an actual screw while messing with the turntable at his house. He ended up putting the screw to the vinyl thus slowing down the song. Others say that never happened and have their own side of the story. I’ve heard all the storied, but most have slipped my mind. Either way, DJ Screw popularized it, and although noone will ever be as good as the Legend himself, we will carry it on. I could go on and on about the tremendous talent of DJ Screw, but I better stop there. Let’s just say that this man had the skills to pay the bills and would have taken the music worldwide a lot faster than it will get there now. Unfortunately, he died in November 2000 of a heart attack.

DJ Vurb, where did you get that name from and what was it about screw music that got you hooked?

The name… well, before I started selling my CD’s to the general public in ‘99, I was just making CD’s and tapes for me and my homeboys to listen to. Kind of as a hobby. Back in those days I never had a DJ name. So, in 99 when I was going to become a “real” DJ, I of course had to have a name. I had come up with a few names I liked and showed them to my girl. She took a look at them and then decided she liked a certain one on the list, “DJ Verb”. She thought it needed a little something though. So eventually we decided that Vurb would be tight and give it some uniqueness.

You website djvurb.com is doing pretty well, are you getting hits from around the world?

For sure, we get hits from France, Japan, Germany, Australia, UK, Belgium, Poland, SOUTH AFRICA thanks to yall probably, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece and on and on.

As far as hip hop artists go right now can you tell us who you feeling right now?

Nappy Roots man. I think those boys have some talent and it’s good to see something a little different.

Do you get out there and dj often? Are clubs playing screwed music or is it strictly for the rides?

I would say strictly for the rides. More of something to just chill to or ride to. In the club people want something upspeed.. Also, I myself am not really set up to go on the road. I have however done some full speed mix cd’s for the clubs to play on nights when no live DJ is in the house for example.

What are your short term goals right now?

To get this NEW CD OUT MAN! It’s been delay after delay. Well that vacation I took may have had something to do with it too haha.

And your long term goals?

To keep improving and making better music.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we hope you never stop doing this screw music coz we need that shit. Do you have any last words and shout outs you’d like to give?

Keep lovin it and I’ll keep makin it! And look out for my new CD droppin early this month (August)!

EDITORS NOTE: Check out his site DJ VURB.

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