Around 2009, Grind Time Now was at the peak of its powers, the unquestioned king of the battle rap world — and the league's rise to global dominance at that time can be largely attributed to its West Coast division.
Still not all that far removed from the last days of the freestyle era, battle rap was still being ruled by the West Coast's best, with emcees such as The Saurus having set the standard for the time. So when Hollow Da Don was trying to establish himself as one of the all-time great battlers, he knew where he had to go.
The former "106 & Park" Freestyle Friday champ had been excelling in GTN's East Coast division, but he knew there were bigger fish in the sea — and he was determined to go after them.
"At first, I took over Grind Time East Coast," Hollow recalled. "Did the Jay Focus, Philly Swain, then I ended up doing Arsonal (on Fight Klub) … and stuff like that, so I felt like, ‘All right, I solidified myself as far as the East,’ and then of course the Fresh Coast had it on lock at this time, so I said, ‘Let me go over there and bomb over there,’ you know what I’m saying?
"So then I said, 'Okay, I’m not doing no more [East Coast battles],' and Poison Pen and Pumpkinhead, they thought I didn’t like them. They was like, ‘Why you not battling for us?’ They didn’t understand my vision."
Hollow's vision was world domination — and he knew that to make that vision a reality, he needed to prove himself against the West Coast's best. So in 2009, he did just that, notching an impressive win over Illmaculate at "Grizzlemania" and engaging in a "Battle Of The Bay 5" showdown with Passwurdz.
On New Year's Eve, Hollow capped his West Coast run with another classic against Stockton native Okwerdz. The two traded haymakers for three rounds — many of them personal, most of them hilarious — and the result was a battle that currently ranks as the sixth most viewed battle in Grind Time history.
"He was just coming off of his Pass battle and shit like that, and I had just been coming of the Arsonal battle, so people were interested, but they wanted me to battle somebody that I had called out," Okwerdz said. "They wanted me to battle Rex and shit like that. So it was kind of weird. There wasn't really no hype behind it, you know what I'm saying? ... But then it just happened to be so good, that there was no gimmicks or no bullshit, just two motherfuckers spitting bars, and that shit hit the Internet like wildfire, man."
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.
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