Screwston, Texas

Awready!: U Of H Examines Houston Rap's Legacy

In September, we wrote about a unique collection of Houston hip-hop artifacts that the University of Houston (and some of their friends) was putting together. For the story, we spoke with Julie Grob, the Coordinator for Digital Projects and Instruction at the U of H library system.

She is smart, so she said smart things. Like this, when she explained how she'd become so in tune with DJ Screw:

I think it [Screw's music] does an amazing job of documenting. The neighborhoods where a lot of guys [like Screw] come from are places that are not documented the way historically African-American neighborhoods like Fifth Ward or Third Ward are because it's marginalized people and reveals a lot around or about street culture and drug culture.

They didn't have a more mainstream platform to put forward what they felt or were experiencing," Grob continues. The Screw Tapes really captured that. It didn't come out of how record executives wanted to portray a sound. They were making the tapes for each other, about each other.

It's just this really genuine communication, and I came to realize that this music is so important to people because it really feels like it represents them.

At the time, a conference to commemorate the collection was planned, though it was not yet fully fleshed out. It is now. And it looks marvelous.

The event, called "Awready!: The Houston Hip-Hop Conference," will take place on March 27 and 28. Among other things, there will be a college DJ Battle and an interactive graffiti and B-Boy/B-Girl exhibit.

The crown jewel of the conference though (beyond the actual Screw exhibit, of course), will be the four panel discussions that will take place concurrently on the March 28. Each discussion intends to examine a different aspect of the city's rich rap history. The panels are called "Origins of Houston Hip-Hop," "DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click," "Slabs and Syrup" and "The Legacy of DJ Screw.

Panelists include Willie D, Steve Fournier, Chingo Bling, Paul Wall, Z-Ro, E.S.G., Lil Keke and more.

Says Grob: "The exhibit actually open has a soft opening Monday at the MD Anderson Library on U of H's main campus. I was nervous before, but now that everything is here I'm getting really excited."

To attend, you must register ahead of time (go here). But do so quickly: The event is capped at 500 persons, and 200 or so have already locked in spots.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Shea Serrano