Ezekiel Azonwu: Battle Rapper Turned Spoken Word Poet

“Making music is fun for me. Writing, doing things like that, those things are fun.”

Ezekiel Azonwu is a P4CM spoken word poet who grew up and lives in Los Angeles, California. Though he makes music, he primarily considers himself to be a family man. “I’ve been married for almost seven years, have three beautiful daughters, so that’s the part of me that I relate most to.”

Ezekiel has been rapping since he was thirteen years old, but is primarily known for his spoken word. “I do spoken word, I’m also a rapper by trade and I’ve been really focused on doing my spoken word for the past few years but I’m just getting back into the groove of rapping.”

Both of his parents were involved in ministry, so Ezekiel grew up with church. “Prior to college, I lived a life that I would call ‘the almost life’ and that’s where the piece [“Almost Saved”] later came in where people knew me at church as “good old Ezekiel, the guy that helps out in the youth.”

In high school “Battle rapping for me was everything. I used to freestyle battle rap all the time. That’s where I get my style from, so if you hear my poetry, there’s a lot of punchlines and puns coming from the word of trying to give people something that’ll hit them in the gut.” Though he enjoyed it, the battle rap was a bad influence on teenage Ezekiel.

“In the streets I would get myself involved in smoking a little weed here and there, I used to rap as well; secular battle rap, and I was the most vulgar of any of the rappers that I knew. Besides that my mindset and some of my ideology was completely corrupt.”

Ezekiel & Janette...Ikz-76

Ezekiel met his wife during the first year of college at California State University at Dominguez Hills, and she played a major role of re-introducing Christ to him and what his faith should mean when applied in his life. “With my mind change came me applying the things I knew to be true growing up in my actual walk… [I changed] from hypocrite to actually striving to live for Christ after my first year of college.”

In the late 00s, Ezekiel became a fan of P4CM spoken word, and his excitement was increased when he went to their Lyricist’s Lounge.

“At that night, I saw poets that blew my mind. I was so amazed at how they were able to take poetry that’s so effective and hard hitting, and do it all for God.”

In early 2010, he was rapping an a cappella at an event, and a man affiliated with P4CM saw him, saying “the way that you do it and the quality of it, you could do it for our [P4CM’s] poetry event.”

Ezekiel thought that P4CM’s poetry was way too good for him to attempt to be apart of, but after further convincing he decided that he would do it as a one-time thing. The piece was called “Almost Saved” and has since garnered almost 800,000 views on YouTube. “That would be the piece that would actually launch me into this spoken word thing and now I’m actually full-time doing it.”

He has been participating in P4CM’s main event Lyricist’s Lounge, now known as Rhetoric, every year since his first time in 2010.

“I really believe it’s the grace of God that has allowed poetry and spoken word to do what it’s done… People recognized me as one of the faces of the poetry movement with P4CM and I’m just grateful to be a part.”

“Beauty and the Beast” is a three-folded poem that Ezekiel made a few years ago. “It started off with me thinking of how I met my wife and how her love for God caused me to transform in my walk with Christ. I think I even said it at one point, ‘you are beauty and I was like the beast.” When he though of his story with his wife, he thought of the story of the well known 1991 Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, as well as the story of God and humanity.

In describing the writing process, he says “I wanted to begin with me and my wife, how that happened, my mindset there and then I wanted progress and make a change of tone.” He wrote in his plans, “Talk about wife, talk about progression, change tone, end with meeting God.” He made this skeleton of the poem and when he would come up with something dealing with the God interaction, he would put it at the end. When he had an idea relating to his relationship with his wife then he would put it at the beginning, eventually ending up with what he described as a long thread of lines.

Ezekiel Azonwu goes all over performing his poems, and one of his favorite things about it is “coming from that battle era, you a lot of times want to go to the place where you sense that they [the audience] are feeling what you are saying. When people have that ‘Ooh, Aah,’ [I’m thinking] ‘Oh, at least they got it.’” He also enjoys hearing from people that they felt that they were being ministered to by his poems.

His most recent spoken word piece is called “Touchy Subject” and it addresses masturbation.

“It was just me being transparent and I mentioned that masturbation was something that plagued me as a struggle, even in my marriage. It’s not easy to say that because when you hear masturbation the way that I explain it, it is infidelity in itself within marriage and its actually infidelity to God because you’re not operating within his design.”

He received mix feedback on the poem and says that he received lots of emails from people saying, “what about this, what about that, how can it be a sin if this, etc.” A few days after releasing the video, he posted another video explaining why masturbation is a sin to answer those questions, giving a biblical explanation to his statements in the piece.

“The Letter” was the third spoken word piece Ezekiel ever wrote, but he did not share it with the public until 2013.

“I didn’t think people were ready to hear anything like that. It comes from the devil’s perspective. I wanted people to actually see the reality of Satan.”

Both of his parents are from Nigeria, and in his Christian African background “they’re heavily ‘spiritual realm focused,’ I would say.” Describing the poems message and intentions, he “wanted to be one of those people who re-introduced a biblical reality of Satan in the spiritual realm and how it applied to their [people’s] everyday lives… I wanted people to see the disturbance of the kingdom of darkness when we give our lives to Christ so I really wanted to express that in the piece and I hope people are able to catch that.”

Though known best for his spoken word, he recently released a hip-hop song called “Gavels.” A gavel is an instrument used by a judge in court to officiate a trial and deliver a judgment. With the song he wants to say that he is not here to judge. He wants people to “make sure that we’re placing more evaluation on ourselves than placing condemnation on others… we want to make sure that we’re operating and seeing through the lenses of love. That’s how Christ taught us and that’s what I want to get at with the song.”

“We hate to be judged but we want the robe, and we love to boast, everything look perfect, ‘til they open up the curtains. Lord have mercy on us, sin is dripping off us, why we pointing fingers, right not all I knows, gavels down.”

You can follow Ezekiel Azonwu on his Twitter, Instagram, and website.

  • Thulani Ndaba

    One day I wanna be on that P4CM stage shredding the mic like you. You’re dope bro. Never let go of that pen!
    God bless you!