Jesse J. Esparza
DJ Screw
Photograph, Portrait of Robert "DJ Screw" Davis, Jr. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Listen to this artist

DAVIS, ROBERT EARL, JR. [DJ SCREW] (1971–2000). Rapper, disc jockey, and producer Robert Earl Davis Jr., known as DJ Screw, was born in Bastrop, Texas, on July 20, 1971, the son of Robert Earl and M. Deary Davis. His popularity was based largely on the unique style of music he performed, which was known as "screwed" or "screwed down" music, because it involved slowing the tempo of songs to half their normal speed or less. His nickname grew out of his practice of taking two records and "screwing" them together, using this method of changing the music's tempo. He was considered a pioneer in Houston's burgeoning rap scene, and a number of his musical associates went on to achieve their own notable success.

DJ Screw
Photograph, Picture of Robert "DJ Screw" Davis, Jr. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

As a child Davis lived in Smithville, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. At the age of five he began collecting records. By the age of ten, when he moved to Houston to stay with his truck-driver father, Davis dropped out of school to concentrate on music. He began his career as a disc jockey in 1989. He often stayed up until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning working on tapes for which he skillfully gathered a handful of local artists and had them perform. DJ Screw made a major breakthrough in the music scene in 1993 with his album All Screwed Up!. Among his best sellers were June 27th, Hellraiser, Plots and Schemes, and The Final Chapter. Other albums included three volumes of 3'N the Mornin, and No Work, No Play. In 1996 he opened the Screwed Up Record and Tapes store and record label in Houston. He also organized the Screwed Up Click, a crew of local rappers who provided him with rhymes to complement his beats.

DJ Screw
Drawing, Robert "DJ Screw" Davis, Jr. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

He died of a drug overdose in the restroom of his Houston recording studio on November 16, 2000, just as the Bayou City was becoming nationally recognized as a mecca for Southern rap. After DJ Screw's death, his father Robert Earl Davis, Sr., founded the DJ Screw Foundation to honor and carry on his son's musical legacy. In 2006 DJ Screw: The Untold Story, a CD/DVD on the rap artist, was released by Double Platinum Entertainment. The first annual DJ Screwfest, held in Pasadena, Texas, in July of that year, celebrated the rapper's music and hosted popular rap performers and a car show. M. D. Anderson Library at the University of Houston hosted an exhibit, DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop, in 2012.


DJ Screw Papers, 1975–2006, University of Houston Libraries. DJ Screw Photographs and Memorabilia, Digital Library, University of Houston Libraries (http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/djscrew), accessed November 1, 2015. Michael Hall, "The Slow Life and Fast Death of DJ Screw," Texas Monthly, April 2001. Brett Koshkin, "DJ Screwfest," Houston Press (http://houstonpress.com/2007-09-27/music/dj-screwfest/), accessed September 18, 2011. New York Times, November 4, 2010. The Official (((Screwed Up Records & Tapes))) (http://screweduprecords.com/), accessed September 18, 2011. 

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jesse J. Esparza, "DAVIS, ROBERT EARL, JR. [DJ SCREW]," accessed February 17, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdaag.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on December 15, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...