Since the tragic demise of its founder DJ Screw, Beltway 8 has been one of the crews that has picked up the torch and carried the chopped and screw music into the new millennium.
â€œWhen screw music started there only three cats that were doing it. First and foremost it was DJ Screw. He started it off. Then there was Michael Watts and Swishahouse. We are the last crew from that original era. That is why it is important that we carry this thing on.â€
Beltway 8 started seven years ago when its founder/producer Mike Moe, a native of Houstonâ€™s 3rd Ward who dabbled in music, was laid off from his nine-to-five at Bettis Corporation. He received the tragic news when he was walking on the job to put in another day of hard work. â€œJust as they were escorting me out the building a fellow worker said donâ€™t forget about God when you make it in your music.â€ The admonishment would prove to be more of a prophecy that a reminder. But before he could achieve that goal God had a few more test for him to face. Shortly after being laid off Mike marriage fell apart, he lost his home, his car and practically everything else he owned. Like the proverbial Job in the Bible things were grim, but Mike kept the faith. He soon landed back on his feet, moved to Prairie View, Texas rented a trailer and enrolled in Prairie View A & M University. He also decided to get back into his music.
â€œI took a $463.00 check, a Walmart microphone, a Best Buy mixer, a double tape deck and started recording students at Prairie View A & M,â€ recalls Mike. â€œI started skipping class so I could post up at the cafeteria and sell screw tapes featuring all of the latest music plus freestyles from his some of college buddies who were tight on the mic.â€
In no time Mike Mo became the man on campus. His mix tapes were selling so well that his market expanded into the various hoods of Prairie View and surrounding areas. At the suggestion of one of his fellow students Mike decided to call his operation Belt Way 8 because he represented all side of Houston and belt way 8 surrounds the entire city â€“the name fit perfectly
Although Mike was learning a lot about street corner salesmanship, guerilla marketing and hood promotions he wasnâ€™t learning much in class. Ironically it would be classroom dispute with a fellow student that would inspire him to pursue his passion full time. â€œI was in class and these girls were in there rambling about nothing. I said to them hey, why donâ€™t you all stop rambling and stick to the subject at hand. One of them shot back why donâ€™t you leave class and go sell your tapes. I walked out and never looked back.â€
Leaving school allowed Mike and his crew to travel and sell their music throughout Texas and the Deep South. In less than three years Mike Mo had made Belt Way 8 one of the biggest names in chop and screw music. According to him Beltway 8â€™s fan base had grew to include Louisiana, Okalahoma, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Virginia. His mix tapes were selling in the thousands and popular tapes like the breakthrough mix 14th Day, the Screwston Series and the 12 Disciples of Screw are still highly sought after by die-hard screw heads. In addition Mike Mo had chopped and screwed over 75 full length album by artists such as Willie Nelson, Z-Ro, Big Pokey, Youngsta, Guerilla MAAB and the Screwed Up Click. But just as thing were going good for Beltway fate threw them another curb to stumble on. With the demise of Beltway 8â€™s main distributor Southwest Wholesale, Mike Mo lost a considerable amount of money.
â€œI was out of $152, 000,â€ explains Mike. â€œI started out with $463.00. I was only in business for two years.â€ Things were happening so fast and they were making so much money through Southwest Wholesale they thought the good times would never end. They werenâ€™t prepared for the lean times when Southwest folded. â€œMy partners, producers and my rappers left me without notice. I felt like a captain on a ship with holes in it. I had to patch things up and keep the ship on course.â€
Mike returns to his roots, hit the studio, recorded some mix tapes and hit the highway selling mix tapes hand to hand. The strategy worked like a charm. In less than five years Mike Mo had placed Beltway 8 was back on top and heâ€™s still making moves. He currently owns a record shop in Prairie View, a promotions company, two wrapped vans, a tour bus and a state of the art recording studio. His mix tape series The Color Series and the Screwston series are now more popular than ever. Mike says that the secret to their success lies in their unique sound.
â€œThe reason why our sound is different from others is because I did a survey on what people liked and disliked about screw,â€ says Mike Mo. â€œI found out that most people felt that the songs were too slow and that many screw DJs cut the songs off too early so I speeded up the songs and let them play all the way through. Thatâ€™s what made us the number one chopped and screw DJ in the game.â€
Check out the artist's website:
1. DJ Screw (We Miss You)
2. Slugg Shooter
3. Neva Leave Ya Girl
4. Luv 2 Smoke
5. Parkin Lot Pimpin
6. Talkin Down
9. N.E.O. Click Anthem
11. How Tha Story Goes
12. Cess Pool
13. Death B 4 Dishonor
14. Leavin U
15. Southside Rider