Okwerdz established himself as one of the fiercest and most talented battle rappers in 2010 and dropped his Anti-SOPA Rap video to huge acclaim in 2012.
After we caught up with him in Malmo, Sweden, for the O-Zone Battles 2-Year Anniversary (in 2012) alongside M.O.P., WC, Crooked I, Yukmouth, J-Ro, Kuzzo Fly – he dropped his Dirtbag Dan featured video for Hate Me Cuz I’m Great.
Last time we heard off him he released the Team Backpack Cypher featuring Chase Moore and Illmaculate and then “Cypher Effect” video where he went off alongside Mistah F.A.B., Traphik, Dizaster and Gavlyn!
In October 2014 we caught up with him for an exclusive interview where he discussed his career so far, his favorite battle raps of all time, what he’s working on right now and much more!
Interview conducted in October 2014.
Questions Asked By: West Haven Blast
DubCNN: We’re checking with West Coast & hip-hop/battle rap Legend, OKWERDZ, what’s good fam?
What’s good? Appreciate y’all havin’ me!
DubCNN: No doubt. First off, how did you get your start in this rap game? & when
did you know that hiphop was the avenue you wanted to pursue?
I always just been a fan of rap since i was a kid and very over critical of lyrics so I freestyled one day back in like ’98 and got hooked. Once I started writing & making music I knew it was the only thing I could possibly do.
DubCNN: Growing up in California, what artists inspired your aggressive, take no prisoners style of rap?
First & foremost I would say Ice Cube, always loved how he had the balls to just say what was on his mind and shake shit up but could also paint a picture or make a positive song as well. Aside from that other more aggressive artists I listened to a lot growing up were Biggie, NWA, Geto Boys, LL Cool J, Wu-Tang, Onyx, Kool G Rap, Brotha Lynch Hung, 8 Ball & MJG, MOP, WC,…I draw influence from alot of more chill hip hop artists & from all different genres as well from R&B/soul, classic rock, jazz, blues & many things in between.
DubCNN: Personally, growing up in Lynwood/Compton, I was exposed to primarily Gangsta Rap, but was also enamoured by the hiphop battle rap scene…which brings up an interesting, yet rarely discussed topic, that I think we both could relate to…On the West Coast, via tradition, there has often been an invisible line, or rift, between West Coast Gangsta Rap, and West Coast hiphop. An undeserved line in my opinion, since we all come from the West Coast, and possess different talents and viewpoints. What is your opinion on this “invisible rift”? & do you see it dissipating at all as we progress?
I believe we had similar experience, growing up in Stockton wasn’t no rappers trying to hear about no battle rapper going around freestyling f*ckin people up I had to earn my respect locally for years first and been in many situations solo battling people and all they friends. I think with my experience in the industry years later on I found that the west coast in particular seems to be unified pretty solid from OGs, to cats on the come up, So. Cal to Nor. Cal, to battlers, etc if you running sh*t in your lane they welcome with open arms because we all pushing for the same cause. This obviously comes from the west continually being hated on by other regions so we’ve developed this support that I haven’t really seen anywhere else I’ve travelled to.
DubCNN: Having worked with heavyweights like E-40, Sadat X, Tech9, Kool G. Rap, Mistah F.A.B., Atmosphere, amongst a litany of others, your career has taken off in a major way. Is there a favorite amongst the collaborations for Okwerdz?
This new record Me & Collage got with E-40 & Goldie of The Federation for the album might be my favorite right now we real excited about it, but I think being in the studio with Tech N9ne and watching him do what he does was the best & most inspiring experience of my collabs!
DubCNN: As a battle rap Legend, having battled numerous contestants (Hollow Da Don, Arsonal, T-Rex, etc.), what battle rapper has given you the most problems in a battle?
Hollow Da Don is probably one of the best if not the best opponent you could possibly ask for and with that came one of the toughest battles I’ve been in that is still debated to this day years later. Its so close people tell me every day that their opinion on the winner changes literally every time they watch it, that’s how you know you got a true classic! Most of my other opponents were clear wins & not nearly as difficult to beat.
DubCNN: Growing up as an admirer of the Battle Rap scene, I can recall Cannibus vs. LL & Krs One vs. Roxanne Shante/Mc Shan/Juice Crew, as my favorite epic battles. What is your favorite battle of all time?.. Hip-hop battle, and industry battle, respectively.
Industry: I always enjoyed any diss tracks from Ice Cube or Eminem, That “G aint in you” bar by DJ Quik is still one of the hardest disses in hip hop history!
Rap battles: The Saurus vs Illmaculate, Juice vs Supernatural, Pass vs Hollow Da Don, Dumbfoundead vs Tantrum, The Saurus vs Justice there’s way too many to name I could go all night through all the different era’s of battle rap I’ve been old enough to witness!
DubCNN: I read online that you also have had music licensed for major film projects…including the movie “Tapped Out” starring Anderson Silva, “Dragon Eyes” with Jean Claude Van Damme & Snoop Dogg’s GGN. Is this true and how have these opportunities affected your career?
It’s true and just the beginning! I started “STFU & Rap” Publishing last year & have signed 5 deals with publishers already. We are still in the beginning stages but so far its raised awareness of my music & helped me start building some residual income! Big things to come I just got something pitched to VH1 as well, real excited to see where I can go in this side of the game!
DubCNN: Ok. Who are OKWERDZ top 5 “MOST LYRICAL” MC’s of all time?
Such a tough question this could change almost daily but as far as intricate bars go…maybe something this, no particular order either: Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Big L, Eminem.
DubCNN: Are there any artists or producers that you haven’t worked with, but would like to?
Wow there are literally hundreds from all types genres: Michael Jackson, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Bill Withers, Biggie, Nate Dogg, The Beatles, Al Green, Jay-Z, Nipsey Hussle, Pharoahe Monch, Carlos Santana, T.I., Too Short, Bun B, 50 Cent, The Eagles, 8 Ball & MJG, Snoop Dogg, Slick Rick, Crooked I, Big L, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Scarface, Method Man, Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Drake, so many more!
Production wise: Dre, Timbo, Just Blaze, DJ Premier, DJ Quik, Rick Rock, DJ Khalil, Alchemist, Nottz, The Bomb Squad, J Dilla, Lil Jon, RZA, Mr. Porter, Eric Sermon, Polo da Don.
DubCNN: What new projects do you have out now?
We just dropped a new music video with Big T & Young Collage called “All The Time” & a new cypher that’s killing YouTube right now with Mistah FAB, Dizaster, Traphik & Gavlyn that you so graciously posted on DUBCNN!
DubCNN: What’s upcoming can we expect from Okwerdz for 2015?
I have 4 albums almost done that will begin dropping next year with full promo pushes, tons of videos including freestyle vaults, cyphers, battles, music videos & comedy skits, a lot of new clothing, more music in upcoming films, TV shows, video games & commercials, a lot more shows/touring as well as a few other surprises I got up my sleeve!
DubCNN: Where can fans find OKWERDZ on social media? & Where can they purchase your music?
You can purchase my music & clothing directly from me at BandCamp – but its also available anywhere that sells music online (itunes, amazon, etc) & can even be special ordered at your local record store.
DubCNN: Any advice for aspiring artists?
I would say master your craft before you master your promo or anything else, don’t put out shirts before you can even rap good and build a fanbase. Get extremly computer savvy RIGHT NOW! Also realize that this isn’t an overnight game so assess the situation and make sure you want to possibly spend 10+ uncomfortable years & lose some relationships before catching even the tiniest break then decide if this is really what you wanna do with your life. I made my choice!
DubCNN: Thanks again Ok…and any final thoughts?
I just wanna say I really appreciate y’all reaching out and all your continued support for years helping share my content thank you DubCNN! If you just reading this and never heard of me i’m grateful please take a sec to check me out! Peace!