The Battle of the Bay 4 crowd sways side to side, almost in rhythm with the two MCs stalking each other like animals of prey in the ring. Arsonal, the current Fight Klub champ and East Coast street boss, pulls the band out of his hair to let his dreads fall loose around his face, his arms crossed defiantly as his opponent spits. Dipped out in a West Coast shirt and pulling his trademark Kangol over his eyes, Okwerdz crafts an opus ridiculing the scene Arsonal calls home. “You wanna battle?” he screams, “you gotta give Loaded Lux a VISA, and put a hundred G’s up … WHAT A BUNCHA DIVAS!”
As the crowd exploded, the legacy of a Fresh Coast vet became cemented in a single phrase. But for the man born and raised in Stockton, California, becoming the temporary face of the Grind Time scene was an epilogue rather than a beginning.
When Okwerdz was 17, he married his lifelong interest in shit talking with his freestyle skills and began entering battle tournaments across the Bay Area. While he struggled at first, eventually he hit his stride and began winning events Cali wide, earning his big break in 2002 while competing in New York’s Rocksteady tournament. Okweez took the competition by storm, making it all the way to the finals before finally taking an L. He built off of the momentum he gained in NYC by entering competitions across the country, paving the way for other California MCs at Scribble Jam, winning Arizona’s well-respected Mic Fights and introducing the country to the Fresh Coast flavour of freestyling.
After retiring to focus on music, Okwerdz found his battling career revitalized in the summer of 2008. Going in front of Grind Time cameras to settle a feud with Jaze Juce, Ok’s strong performance made the battle an instant classic, and sparked his passion anew. A throwdown with his close friend Ex-I led to the aforementioned battle with Arsonal, where Okweez stood up for his coast and his scene in what would be a defining performance. His simplistic schemes were balanced with vicious personal material and an engaging delivery, instantly making Ok one of the most polarizing MCs in the scene. His next battles against street veterans Hollow Da Don and T-Rex, further placed the Stockton representer at the center of a stylistic divide in battle rap. Fans either loved or hated him, but regardless of their preferences, they were paying attention.
Today, Okwerdz continues to spread his love of hip hop and battling worldwide. Rumours constantly circulate around his next matchup, with fans and haters alike seeing a performance in the Ultimate Rap League as his next logical step. Whether Ok will step into the lions dens remains to be seen. But after over ten years of putting in work, his reputation as one of the biggest and most talented assholes in battle rap can never be questioned.