It's not often that I listen to the chopped and screwed version of an album or even a song before I've heard the original version, but such is the case with the Ying Yang Twin's "U.S.A." Yes, I do admit I've been sleeping on D-Roc and Kaine in a major way. Sure I've always appreciated their dance-floor anthems, which have saved many a DJ when the party seems ready to disperse, but otherwise I never thought they had much to offer music-wise. "U.S.A. (Chopped and Screwed)" has changed my perception of the twins in two ways. For one, I never thought that the Twin's hyper-energy would be well-fitted for the chopped and screwed treatment, yet Michael "5000" Watts found a way to make even "Badd" sound at home slowed down. The other way "U.S.A. (Chopped and Screwed)" has changed me is that now I actually want to go out and listen to the original version as the Ying Yang twins show that they can do much more than make the ladies dance.
The chopped and screwed treatment always delivers mixed results depending on who the artist and producer are. There are some DJs out there that will chop and screw anything, I've even heard a chopped and screwed version of Canibus' "Rip The Jacker," but a wise DJ knows that there are limitations. Michael "5000" Watts handles his job like the legend he is as he chooses the projects he chops and screws very wisely. On "U.S.A." there are only two major missteps when it comes to the slowed treatment. Watts does manage to give both "Wait" and the "Wait" remix a unique twist when he chops and screws them, but in my opinion the energy of a track such as "Wait" is drained completely when it is slowed down. Sure some might find the "whisper" concept even more attractive at a lower pitch, but I doubt many women would find the idea of slow-dancing to a sinister whisper ideal. Besides this song the only other problem with the chopped and screwed version are the "Sex Therapy" skits. R & B has been given the chopped and screwed treatment since the technique was developed, but I have never been a fan of hearing a female's voice lowered to demon-like levels. To be honest, I find it a bit disturbing to hear Alicia Keys sounding like a transvestite. With that said, the "Sex Therapy" skits feature women talking about sex, and while I suspect that in the original version the women were going for the "sexy" sound, chopped and screwed the skits sound like outtakes from "To Wong Foo."
Besides those two complaints, the rest of the album actually adapts well to the chopped and screwed treatment. Among the highlights on the "U.S.A." chopped and screwed version are "The Walk," "23 Hr. Lock Down," and "Long Time." "The Walk" is a posse cut featuring most of the Collipark Music line-up as well as former Hot Boy B.G. and sounds sinister and menacing chopped and screwed. "23 Hr. Lock Down" features U.G.K.'s Bun B and I suspect is also one of the regular version's best tracks too. Over Mr. Collipark's somber production, the MC's spit about the struggles about being locked up, specifically Bun B's personal experience with partner in rhyme, Pimp C. Michael Watt's expertly chops the track up to put emphasis on the message being presented and the pain felt by Bun B. "Long Time" features R & B crooner Anthony Hamilton and finds the Twins once again getting deep as they rap about their struggles and relationship with God. Once again, the chopped and screwed treatment finds a way to infuse the track with even more emotion, making it a worthy adversary of the original version.
"U.S.A. (Chopped and Screwed)" is a good album from start to finish. Sure some tracks on the original may be nothing more than filler, but slowed down they blend into the mix perfectly. It's not the best chopped and screwed album out there, but it does do justice to the original while still maintaining its own identity. Fans of chopped and screwed music will enjoy it as will fans of the Ying Yang Twins, furthermore it'll probably bring new fans to both the Ying Yang Twins and the chopped and screwed movement.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: August 23, 2005