Screwston, Texas

Kris Kross and DJ Screw: The Lost Connection

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Much like the teen-rap explosion spearheaded by Kris Kross, Screw's trademark slowed-down sound was initially dismissed by some as a gimmick. Today, of course, his influence can be heard in the music of platinum artists from A$AP Rocky to Beyoncé. Canadian superstar Drake even released his own "June 27th" tribute track, titled "November 18th," on his 2009 mixtape So Far Gone.

Sadly, Chris Kelly's death now connects him to Screw in a more unfortunate manner than the sample ever could. Both men were important Southern hip-hop artists, each in his own way, who were taken down long before their time by drug abuse. Their music, at least, lives on -- both in the recordings they left behind and in the tunes they inspired in the artists who followed.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith