Screw, who had been skinny as a youth, also had gained a tremendous amount of weight over the past few years. "Here's a black male about 300 pounds, cholesterol over 200, who ate fried chicken every day. If you do this year after year after year, something will happen eventually."
According to a Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse report, syrup's common side effects include lethargy, fatigue, loss of coordination and constipation. The report does not mention heart failure.
On a recent Saturday in January at Screwed Up Records and Tapes, people are lined up 20 deep at the bulletproof glass window, asking for tapes. They mainly want the classics -- June 27th, The Final Chapter, Plots and Schemes. Behind the counter are Screw's cousins Chris Cooley and Shorty Mack. The cash register rings constantly.
The store has an inventory of about 130 different Screw tapes, with some unreleased material still to come. Cooley, Mack and several of Screw's other cousins have pledged to keep the store and Screw's music alive. They've launched a Web site, www.screweduprecords.com. They're recording tracks in Screw's studio. Another cousin is starting a nonprofit foundation to continue his legacy of helping people. But all the work in the world isn't nearly enough to keep them from remembering.
"I got to the studio after they took him away," says Shorty Mack. "I stayed there for a few days. It was hard to believe that he would never be back there. This is the longest time we've been apart in years. At the studio, I just knew it wasn't true that he was dead. Every day it would just sink in more and more, and it got harder and harder."
"Screw was always late," Chill says. "Even now, that's what I want to believe. He's just late, that's all."