DJ Screw lays down the June 27th Freestyle

This Week in Texas Music History a DIY DJ lays down Houston’s perennial summer soundtrack.

Written by Jason Mellard, Avery Armstrong and Alan Schaefer

DJ Screw June 27th Freestyle

Jason Mellard from the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University

On June 27, 1996, DJ Screw hit record on what some consider to be his magnum opus, the June 27th freestyle tape. DJ Screw was an auteur and DIY creator, never on a major label, recording in a home studio with groups of artists and friends improvising together. This tape came after midnight on a warm but not scorching Houston summer evening.

It was rapper DeMo’s birthday celebration, and he, Big Moe, Key-C, Yungstar, Big Pokey, and Haircut Joe freestyled over a tight, captivating thirty-five minutes. Its iconic stretch featured a slowed-down version of the sampled beat from “Da Streets Ain’t Right” by hip-hop duo Kriss Kross.

DJ Screw
The SUC, Screwed-Up Click

This was rapper Yungstar’s first full introduction on tape as a member of the Screwed-Up Click, or SUC, DJ Screw’s crew. It also provides a prime example of rapper Big Moe’s distinctive style that brings smooth R&B songcraft into the mix. As Lance Scott Walker wrote in his recent oral history of DJ Screw: “Those guys in the house that night might not have known they’d recorded a hit, but the Houston listening public knew it, and made it so.” 

Screw released the tape by the Fourth of July weekend, and it reverberated across Galveston beach parties, spurred lines around the block of Screw’s house—the only place you could get a copy—and went on to be the best-selling of his mixtapes. Screw’s music re-shaped the tempo and style of Southern hip-hop to H-Town’s syrupy crawl, and June 27th has become an unofficial Houston holiday. 

The June 27th Freestyle


Lance Scott Walker. DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2022.

Lance Scott Walker. Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History of Bayou City Hip-Hop. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018.

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