The killing of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers on Monday led to large street protests on Tuesday, the day the four were fired from the force as the FBI launched an investigation into the manner of Floyd’s death.
From Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and dozens of artists (including Snoop Dogg, Cardi B, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and many more), Floyd’s plea “I can’t breathe” as a white officer kneeled on his neck became a sadly familiar rallying cry for social justice in the latest police-related death of a black man.
On Wednesday morning (May 27) a the Houston Chronicle reported that earlier in his life Floyd played a part in the rise of one of the most beloved rap crews in Houston history: the Screwed Up Click.
Led by late musical maestro DJ Screw, the Click made their bones with their signature, molasses-thick “chopped and screwed” sound, which was created by Screw purposely slowing down the beats of popular songs on his beloved series of Screw Tapes mixtapes. The efforts featured familiar songs fun through the screwed and chopped filter, as well as some original freestyles from the large extended S.U.C. family, which included Floyd (known as “Big Floyd”), among other more well-known members such as Big Moe, Lil’ Flip, Big Pokey, Fat Pat and affiliates Lil’ Troy and UGK.
In the wake of Floyd’s death a recording of a Screw freestyle featuring Floyd, “Sittin on Top of the World,” has been making the rounds on Reddit and Twitter, highlighting Big Floyd’s narcotized flow over Screw’s slow-rolling beat, as well as the “Tired of Ballin'” freestyle. You can also check out Floyd on the expansive DJ Screw Chapter 319 two-disc mixtape — one of the more than 350 mixtapes the famously prolific Screw released before his death from an overdose of codeine in 2000 — where Floyd appears on the final track, “Freestyle – Sugar Hill” alongside Daryl.
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson tearfully called Floyd his late friend his “twin” and described how they grew up in the same Houston Third Ward neighborhood, and how Floyd had moved to Minnesota to change up his life and become a truck driver. Jackson posted a series of tributes to Floyd, including a picture of his days as a high school football champ. At a prayer vigil on Tuesday night in Houston’s Emancipation Park, the mother of Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Roxie Washington, told the Chronicle, that Floyd got a basketball scholarship to Florida State University, but returned to Houston without finishing his studies, at which point he joined the Screwed Up Click.
After struggling to find work in Houston, the Chronicle reported that Floyd left his home town for Minneapolis in 2018, where he worked as a truck driver and bouncer. “He was a gentle giant,” Washington said. “People mistake him because he was so big that they thought he was always a fighting person, but he was a loving person.”
Floyd was also briefly a member of the group Presidential Playas, whose sound had the signature screwed and chopped feel; the group released the album Block Party in 2000.
Listen to some of Floyd’s work below.