The 10 Best DJ Screw Mixtapes Image via Screwed Up Records

2. DJ Screw Southside Still Holdin' (1999)

"I been hurtin' in my heart since they took that Fat Pat..." This is a tribute to Pat, who was shot to death in February, 1998. And also—epitomizing the way that Screw tapes could so effectively mix joy and sadness, pleasure and pain—a personal tape for Big Snoop's birthday.

Screw chops up Pat's classics, big voice muddled down in tape hiss and slow bass, his boys singing along with the hooks, letting everyone know the Ruger's still cocked. And the archetypal Screw tape freestyle, anchored by names that flared on the Southside but would fade after Screw's death—ice-cold Clique veterans like D-Drew and Lil O, and the debut of Lil Flip. "Wanna Be a Baller" chopping in the background and everyone passing the mic, going in, fucking up lines, shouting out Pat while people nod off with lit Backwoods in their mouths.

Lil O, who was just blowing up off a string of street singles, comes hard with pissed-off writtens on drug-game beef and Bentleys big as hippopotamuses. Tape hissing, slowed down into a jailphone Shyne, "Know I lick shots with this/If it's plex you please/Fat rat with the cheese/Nigga, it's SUC, runnin' up in boys houses/Lay 'em down for keys."

And then Flip. This is a rapper whose career now stands as a perfect what-not-to-do guide for regional superstars trying to blow up: Neglecting the local market, bad deals, anonymous singles, ill-advised beefing that begins with dissing E.S.G. and culminates with calling out Chief Keef in between fighting credit card fraud charges and hosting parking lot show-and-shines in Waco. Here, Lil Flip drops the greatest performance in rap history, uniting oldschool boasting about rapping and stoned, shy 17-year-old, cool-excitement punchlines about foreign cars and girls. The vocabulary and sentiment and day-to-day of the Screw universe, the world being described and suggested by all the tapes is whipped into a surreal panorama—a fucked-up stroll through South Houston, hitting up Whataburger, eating barbecue with Screw, watching Nickelodeon with Yungstar. Flip took all the routines and tics and quirks of what other rappers were doing on Screw tapes and stretched them to absurdity. He invented the next half-decade of Houston rap off the top of his head, condensed all the slang and sound of the city into one fifteen-minute freestyle.

(That probably sounds hyperbolic. It can be hard to dig this. Just like it can be hard to appreciate a lot of what's going on on Screw tapes—after mid-2000s goofballs like Mike Jones and Paul Wall blew up, flipping the slang and the aesthetic of rappers like Flip, and Bun B hanging out at Vice parties. But seriously, as cold as legends like Pat and Keke are on the tapes, Flip does things they couldn't do. Beyond the surreal imagery, the shape and rhythm of his flow is amazing, stretching and compressing lines, abruptly changing his cadence or rhythm, as if he's slowing and chopping his own flow in realtime. When Flip finally relinquishes the mic and the hook comes in, the next sound is a roar of approval from everyone in the room.)

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