It’s already been proven that slowing down songs can turn the most superficial pop into a saintlike transcendent hymn. Just listen to Justin Bieber’s "Baby" slowed down 800 times and you can basically hear the sound of life being made.
Chopped and screwed is a technique present in hip-hop since the early 90s, which harnesses the healing power of slowing shit down. Originating with the late DJ Screw, the technique basically involves slowing down percussive samples, sometimes to half the pace, which is why it’s sometimes also called "slowed and throwed". It’s a style that, by the late 90s, had come to be characterised by its proponents love of purple drank. Indeed many of the key-figures in the scene, including Screw himself, have struggled with codeine addiction.
Purplelizer is a new app that seeks to honour the legacy of DJ screw and others in the chopped and screwed community, as well as recognising it’s resurgence through trap and rappers like A$AP Rocky. The app, which comes with a witty testimonials video, lets you slow down your favourite songs to enjoy a whole new dimension of the sound. From The Beach Boys to Robin Schulz, haven’t you wondered what music outside of hip-hop would sound like at a wheezing pace?
I called up Tomás Peña, one of the people behind the concept of the app, to talk about Purpleizing everything from Four Tet to Drake, and the dark world of purple drank.
So what inspired Purpleizer?
Tomás: The app was inspired by the chopped and screwed movement which is related to purple haze smokers and sizzurp drinkers. We started doing more research and discovered that as many as 10% of young people in the US have tried sizzurp and might be listening to that chopped music, so we decided to give wings to the kids. Well, also to the grown ups, but we were inspired mostly by the kids.
How did you first become aware of chopped and screwed music?
We found out about the chopped and screwed scene via the sounds of DJ Screw and consequently other young rappers who are building on that sound, like A$AP Rocky on “Purple Kisses” (below). I think most music sounds best when you slow it down. We wanted things to sound like binaural beats, which are used for meditation or something. We wanted to have that on the fly with no waiting. We enjoyed the idea of slowing down music when you are high, but also the idea of getting high by listening to your favourites songs in a different speed.
Seems legit. So how did you go about creating the app?
Basically we went to a programmers jobs board online and posted the idea to see who could help us. We found Alexander, a pretty talented Russian kid, and he helped us throughout the process.
What song did you test out first?
It had to be something by Four Tet or Drake, they sound best Purplelized.
And just like that you can make your own chopped and screwed music?
Not exactly. It’s inspired by that music but we’d rather just call it Purpleized.
How is being Purplelized different?
Chopped and screwed is really a more elaborate process. The producers take original songs and they remix them by layers, chop them down and screw with their sounds. We just slow it down in a more simple and direct way, there is no chance of editing the song too much. You pick the song you like and start making it sound like screwed Houston music, but coming from a more simplistic point of view.
T Pain obviously dropped “Chopped N' Skrewed” back in 2009. Do you think this app could do for the genre what his autotune app did for R&B?
People are out there listening to these beautiful sounds, smoking or drinking, and they might find it useful to have this type of tool around that lets you experiment and have fun immediately with your friends, without needing to be a master producer or even have a notion of what it really takes to do this for real.
What songs are you most looking forward to Purplelizing?
Pretty much any song from Enya to Nas. Every song I tried so far, has a level of Purplelizing that makes sense and is appealing to listen to. We like the simplicity of Purplelizer as it is now, the way it gives you something a bit different and new, and thats the path we want to follow.