The Hip Hop History of George Floyd

Inside George Floyd's roots in Houston's historic Hip Hop scene

June 3, 2020

George Floyd grew up in Houston’s Third Ward and lived there for most of his life prior to moving to Minnesota.

Houston’s Third Ward is home to a renowned Hip Hop community and one of Texas’s most historic music scenes. DJ Screw was an integral figure in the community and helped pioneer the “chopped and screwed” sound best associated with the Houston sound. The music began to gain prominence in the early 1990’s with a Hip Hop collective known as the Screwed Up Click leading the way.

The collective featured numerous artists from the Third Ward and was led by DJ Screw. The group’s mixtapes made a strong impact on the community with DJ Screw featuring freestyles from his friends, associates, and other artists from the area. It was through this that he connected with George Floyd.

Floyd was a stand-out athlete as a star tight end on the Jack Yates High School football team and a key player on the basketball team. He earned the nickname “Big Floyd” for his 6’7 frame. Floyd played on the South Florida Community College basketball team from 1993 to 1995, but it was a trip home in 1994 that started his music career.

According to Houstonia Magazine, a friend of Floyd’s took him over to Screw’s house where the DJ was laying down some tracks. Floyd wasn’t a shy figure and hopped on a mic to start rapping. Screw was impressed with what he heard and welcomed Big Floyd into the collective to begin recording tracks.

“Anybody who rapped on those tapes became legends, icons,” Houston rapper Paul Wall told the magazine. “Big Floyd was one of those people who was almost like a fictional character you’d read about in books.”

As Floyd planted his roots in the scene, he encouraged and helped out other Houston Hip Hop artists. “Every video on my Instagram where I’m in the studio recording, he’s standing behind me dancing,” rapper Cal Wayne said.

“Everybody loved Floyd. This was his community. He wanted everybody to better themselves.”

Following Floyd’s death, his longtime friend and fellow Screwed Up Click member Trae tha Truth organized a march alongside Houston rapper Bun B and the family of George Floyd. “He was definitely one of the most genuine, humblest people, man. Real, real big dude, but he also had a real, real big heart at the same time,” Trae told Pitchfork in an interview.

He echoed Wayne’s statements about Floyd supporting the endeavors of those in the Houston Hip Hop community. “He took a lot of the younger people from the hood under his wing and gave them knowledge,” Trae said.

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