Russell Tyrone Jones, aka Ol' Dirty Bastard (usually shortened to ODB), one of the founding members of the famous Staten Island hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, died on this day exactly three years ago (Nov 13th, 2004). Had he lived, he would have celebrated his 39th birthday in two days, on Thursday November 15th. The unique, gravely-voiced emcee took his rap name from a 1980 kung fu film entitled Ol' Dirty & The Bastard. It was exactly three years ago when the big news broke that he had collapased at Wu-Tang's studio, 36 Records LLC on West 34th Street, after a day of reportedly having difficulty breathing. He had been complaining of chest pains.
The Wu Tang member, who also was successful as a solo artist, will best be remembered as perhaps one of hip-hop's most eccentric personalities. What other rapper can you think of that filmed a video in his boxer shorts as the ODB did for his "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" video (scroll down)? Then, of course, there were the ODB's seemingly endless legal troubles. These legal woes included being arrested for public drunkeness on many occasions (Ol' Drunk Bastard was what he was labeled by Bill Bellamy at the VIbe awards one year, due to his inebriated condition) and being thrown in jail (2001) for possession of crack. ODB was also convicted of second degree assault for an attempted robbery. He even got himself shot after an argument with a fellow rapper. And, in a well- publicized case, got in trouble for failure to pay child support for three of his thirteen children. The list of legal woes goes on and on and even includes being arrested for shoplifting a pair of $50 shoes from a Foot Locker store in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ironically, at the time the rapper had a wad of $500 cash in his pocket!.
An eccentric individual for sure, the ODB even had a myriad of other names that he bestowed upon himself that included Big Baby Jesus, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Dog, and Joe Bananas, among many others.
But what I best remember him for is his music -- both solo and with the WU. So today, I say, in honor of ODB, spill a lil on da curb and play your fave ODB solo or Wu Tang track featuring ODB, or go shopping at Amoeba Music's hip-hop sections and dig in the crates for part of the legacy that ODB left behind.