Summer’s here. That means that there are going to be more barbecues, outdoor parties, rooftop hangouts, backyard get-togethers and a lot of sitting on stoops or fire escapes. A common theme of P&P readers (and writers) is that we’re probably all the kind of people who like to be in charge of the iPod when there’s music playing out loud. That upsets people who just want to hear the big hit singles that they know really well.
The solution to any kind of solution of this magnitude is compromise. In this case, chopped and screwed pop songs are an excellent middle ground. They are your compromise.
With the high-energy, frenetically paced pop songs that are destroying on the pop charts right now, a little slowing down is necessary sometimes. Dropping the tempo creates an entirely new work but that still has the feeling of familiarity everyone likes. Obviously, these tracks probably won’t go over well at a full-on party, but if you’re hanging out with friends and want to pre-empt hearing “Call Me Maybe,” just play its slowed down counterpart and call it a compromise.
LMFAO – “Party Rock Anthem”
Listening to “Party Rock Anthem” chopped & screwed version all I can picture is a dingy underground night club where everyone is sipping lean out of double cups and dancing in slow motion beneath foggy, purple illumination. Okay so maybe this is just a personal fantasy of mine, but still this song REALLY makes me want it to be real. Like this song would just play on repeat, and everyone would be so out of it that they wouldn’t even care or notice, and we would all dance into the purply night, shuffling in slow-mo. Am I weird? probably. Sorry for party rocking.
Rihanna – “We Found Love”
The trancey synths Calvin Harris laced Rihanna with were a winner from the start. Rihanna (or her writers, rather) knew the best thing to do was treat it like a straight dance song; get a couple euphoric phrases in edgewise that people could latch onto an sing with, but just a repeated bridge and chorus. Don’t mess around too much with something that’s a surefire hit without vocals.
Those synths don’t lose their potency when screwed. In fact, they really get into their own groove this way, instead of just catchy you now get one hell of a poppy head-nodder. Chop it up a little to give it an edge and interesting internal builds and you might have the best song on this list on your hands.
Justin Bieber – “Runaway Love”
First things first: those synths! Chopped & Screwed music has the unfortunate habit of snubbing production, more often than none turning it into a sludgy, melancholy mess. But here’s a perfect example of C&S’s hypnotic spell working in the plus. Beefy, trudging synth lines ooze at almost a dubstep pace, grabbing the track by its neck and refusing to let go. The screwed down tempo also does wonders for another unmissable aspect of the song: Justin’s voice. Turning the speed down a couple notches proves to grow some hair on Bieber’s…eh…you know what I’m talking about. It transforms his squeaky, virgin voice into that of an old, wise soul–the words of love now sounding as though they come from someone who’s been around the block, not the building blocks.
Turns out that everyone’s favorite (former) stoner sounds just as good on that lean as he does on weed. His debut and breakthrough single takes on a life of its own when remixed, and sounds ready-made for a c&s job. The end result might lend more to night than day, as the feel of the track is definitely darker, but no less effective.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me, Maybe”
Disclaimer: If you Google “Call Me Maybe chopped and screwed” there are no real results. One Carly Rae/Jay-Z mashup, and a few awful chop jobs, but nothing worth posting. Instead, I just slowed it down for you, because I’m bad at chopping but good at screwing (puns!).
“Call Me, Maybe” isn’t going anywhere. If you hate it, I’m sorry – it’s a fact. I think everyone has heard the track at least once now; the frenetic strings, Jepsen’s infectious, girlish vocals, the pounding four-on-the-flour under the chorus. It’s overpoweringly catchy: so simple, so effective. You might think your mind is your own, but this song will get stuck in there against your will and prove you wrong.
Slowed down, the track takes on a new life. If you didn’t get why so many people were going bonkers for the track originally, the slowing down of those strings and the pitching down of the vocals might help. That bass drum at the chorus still goes. It’s a weird change but it works.
Wow classic stuff right here! It’s okay, you can admit it. We all had that one instance in our immature youth when this song was played (almost assuredly by a female) and could not help but bob our heads to the addicting soundscapes of mainstream pop. Seriously though, they would package and cater that shit to the American youth like dime bags to meth heads, and we ate it up like fiends. If pop music was a drug, then consider TRL Pablo Escobar. Looking back at it now, NYSNC was like the heroin of it all–the most guaranteed to get you hooked, and the song “Pop” was their purest cut. Now I’m not saying you should go take heroin and listen to N’SYNC (although…never mind), but while you check out the song above, shoot up this interesting revelation. So pop music use to be really addictive–much like a drug, and chopped & screwed sound overly like music on drugs, maybe for pop to get back in the limelight, it needs to take on the chopped & screwed form! Okay, now that might be a little bit of a stretch, but hey, would you be that mad?
Bruno Mars – “Lazy Song”
Let’s be serious with ourselves. The original of this song was WAY too upbeat to be considered “The Lazy Song.” Bruno, I don’t know about you, but when I make the conscious decision to be a degenerate, happy-go-lucky harmonizations and monkeys aren’t the first things that come to mind. Thankfully, someone else out there felt the similarly, and threw the brakes on this overly jubilant debauchery. Because common, what else says couch locked like chopped & screwed?
Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx & Twista – “Slow Jamz”
Kanye’s first party-starting single was an exercise in contrasting speeds. On the one hand, you had the smooth drawl of Jamie Foxx and Kanye rapping with no hurry at all, more concerned with laying out those lines and making sure you caught those jokes. On the other, you had the sped up soul sample and Twista’s blistering verse. A new way to hear it is to slow all of it down.
This one becomes threateningly seductive after it’s remix job. The “what’s it gonna be” of the sample is elongated, and Kanye doesn’t sound so young or restless anymore; it’s a strange, hypnotic look. Then you get to Twista’s verse and it’s like, wow, I knew he was rapping words before but now I have proof.
Drake – “Marvin’s Room”
I know we meant for this list to be songs that you could put on outside and mess with the normal playlist everyone’s got going on at this part of the year, but this is the selection that’s better in your room when you’re on your own. Drake has, strangely, strong ties to Houston, the home of the chop & screw. It makes a little more sense when you consider how good his music sounds good cruising at a slower pace. The spaces get bigger, the voice loses none of the power. And did anyone notice how delicately complex this beat was? There are a lot of details to catch at slow speeds. The longer play time also means you can have a longer cry session, cause that’s what this song is for, right?
This one is just for the LOLs. Just a little reminder that the Internet is a weird and expansive place, and even when it comes to the art of chop & screw, no rock is left unturned. Go ahead and throw your fist in the air and pump like you’ve never pumped before. You know you want to. Next time someone asks you “What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?” here’s your answer. You are very welcome.