The Swerve God
Michael Uko’s newfound focus after mastering Twitter
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 11:12
It’s the beginning of the semester and there’s a line of people anxiously awaiting entrance into an already-flooded house party.
Though it’s midnight and pitch black in the driveway, the easily noticeable 6-foot-4 Derrick Swerve still manages to distract partygoers from the speakers pumping high decibels of music. A girl in the middle of the line constantly peeks behind her shoulder before she finally decides to turn around and ask the question that has become a familiarity for Swerve as of late:
“Do you have a Twitter?”
Swerve has shaken up the Twitter world with over 130,000 tweets and raised an army of approximately 95,000 followers.
When Swerve confirms that he does, in fact, have a Twitter, the girl’s face lights up. She knows she is in the presence of one of the many forms of a celebrity.
Born Michael Uko, now attending UB with a major in business and concentration in finance, he’s maneuvered through interesting chapters of life’s book and now has a new approach. Some things never change with Uko. He resorts to his alias when meeting someone for the first time.
“I don’t tell girls that my name is Mike. I tell ’em my name is Derrick Swerve,” Uko boasted. “If you meet Trey Songz today, you’re going to be like ‘Trey Songz.’ You call me by my stage name, the name I want to be called. I feel like 30 percent of the people that know me,know me by my real name and the other 70 percent know me as Derrick Swerve. I like how it sounds when these h**s say my name. It flows beautifully.”
The “swerve” movement originated during Uko’s high school years and continued throughout his first year at Syracuse University.
In 2007-08,Uko attended SU with a major in civil engineering. Because he possessed a keen interest in the construction of bridges and other types of buildings, Uko figured it was a good place to start. But the joy for building couldn’t overcome his lack of interest in the science and physics that came along with it.
Socially, Uko was considered “the man” at Syracuse. Isaiah Johnson, SU alumnus and friend of Uko, holds him in the highest regard and describes Uko as the key figure of excitement and activity during his freshman year in ’07-08.
“[Uko] was actually one of the first people I met. He was cool;he was really into meeting the entire campus,” Johnson said. “He was really into being a somebody. He knew everybody; he was always with it. He always had the latest on what was going on on-campus. If there was a party going on Friday, he knew who it was, he knew who was throwing it, he knew where it was, he knew the time it started, he knew who was going to be there; he was always up on everything.”
Being Mr. Popular on campus served as a double-edged sword. Uko was well liked, but he became swallowed by what was considered “cool,” which eventually led to his departure from the university after a semester and a half.
“I got caught up in just being the cool guy and getting love everywhere,” Uko said. “Everywhere I go, I know people, having fun, just traveling places [and] doing nothing. It was fun, but it was like, why have fun now and be f***ed up later? Just put in work now [and] get money later. I’m not going to be one of them n***as … that’s washed up.”
After leaving Syracuse, Uko returned back to his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. – a move that ended up opening more doors and options by trying new things.
Music was the first new hobby that became a part of life. Uko met Duane “Holly Starks” Wallace through mutual friend DJ Renwick while shopping on Black Friday in 2008. The two eventually became friends and while Renwick had to return to school, Wallace and Uko would hang out and remix other artists’ songs. The songs were then posted on Facebook.
After receiving some attention, Uko then introduced Wallace to high school friends Andreius “Hoffa Billz” Coleman and Keith “KayFly” Sanders, who were both already familiar with recording. With the four pieces together, the crew hit the studio with the beat that eventually grew to become a YouTube hit song with 15,000 hits titled “Get Busy.”
Immediately after they each recorded their verses,the crew thought about shooting a video. But before filming started, they became aware they had no identity and no actual name as a group.
That’s when Team Swerve came into play.
“Swerve” was a term created by Coleman back in 2006-07.
“I came up with the idea … when you didn’t hear one rap song without the word ‘swag’ in it,” Coleman said. “Everybody started saying ‘swag’ and I was just sick of it, man.I was like: ‘Yo, f*** swag, swerve, n***a.’”