How to Chop and Screw Songs

Studio Layout

Ever wanted to chop and screw your songs? For those that don't understand this term, it's the deep pitch slurred effect and scratching of vocals. Artist such as Paul Wall, Three Six Mafia, Lil' Wayne, Slim Thug and a long list of others take advantage of this music style. The phrase "Chopped and Screwed" hails from DJ Screw of Houston Texas. Although he has passed, he lives threw the form of music he created that people still mimic today. Whether you're using turntables or digital audio programs such as Cakewalk Sonar, Ableton Live, Cubase or MOTU, you can use this method to screw and chop songs.


How to Screw: The first step to giving your tracks the slurred feeling it needs is to "screw" (slow down) the vocals. If you don't insist on slowing down the whole song, then just focus on the set of vocals you want for now. You're going to need to slow down the pitch of the vocals somewhere between the ranges of -1 to -3. That would be my recommendation, but adjust it to however you want your vocals to sound. Some people have gone as low as -6 to -12 when it comes to pitch. Although the time stretch option isn't required to bend the pitch on Cakewalk, it's is required on older versions of Cubase. To stretch the time, select time stretch from the menu and time the tempo with the vocals as you change the pitch. That simple!

How to Chop: There are different ways to go about "chopping" vocals or whole songs. There are two for sure methods that work so you can pick which one is suitable for you. The first method involves playing two songs at once and then switching back and forth between them using the cross fade option. That would probably appeal more to a DJ using turntables as opposed to users of strictly digital audio. The second method is a little bit easier as you can put as many scratches and repeat options as you want.

Set up both vocal/song tracks as you want them but make one just a tad bit ahead. As you listen to the song cut slices in the track that's ahead and it will create a scratch/repeat mix. Continue to do this through the whole song or list of vocals as you please.


If chopping or screwing "hooks"(chorus) of a song, use the chorus effect option as it adds more of a full sound to the mix by blending everything together.