Today on the Rap Flashback we wish a Happy Hip Hop Birthday to the incomparable Russell Tyrone Jones, better known as Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Remembered for his eccentric style, outrageous lyrics, and unique, coarse delivery, ODB was one of a kind. His content was egregiously vulgar and often lewd, but in a group full of some of the most talented emcees the genre’s ever known, he stood out as its most unconventional and fun character.
His songs and interviews were often hysterical. He was once filmed by MTV taking a ride in a limo to pick up food stamps. In the same segment, he offered some safe sex advice to his listeners, albeit in the most ODB way possible, simply stating, “I got burnt by gonorrhea before. And I got burnt two times… by gonorrhea.” And who could forget the time he crashed the 1998 Grammy Awards. After Wu Tang Clan’s Triumph lost to Puff Daddy’s No Way Out for Best Hip Hop Album, he interrupted Song of the Year recipient Shawn Colvin’s acceptance speech before it even got started and offered this gem: “I went and bought me an outfit today that costed a lot of money today. You know how I mean? Because I figured that Wu Tang was gonna win. I don’t know how ya’ll see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu Tang is for the children. We teach the children. You know how I mean? Puffy is good, but Wu Tang is the best! Okay! I want ya’ll to know that. This is ODB and I love you all. Peace!”
That’s the kind of award night sabotage that puts anything Kanye West has ever done to shame. But unlike Kanye, ODB got the ultimate pass because… well, because he’s ODB. Who could possibly get mad at ODB for anything? The man was funny, uniquely charming, and universally beloved.
His musical contributions with the Wu Tang Clan and his solo work, namely Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version and Ni**a Please won’t soon, if ever, be forgotten. Nor will the man behind such classics as “Brooklyn Zoo”, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”, “Ghetto Superstar (This Is What You Are)”, or the track that has what I consider to be one of the greatest lines in Rap history (because it’s hilarious, see below), “Got Your Money”. Further cementing his legacy, ODB was literally that emcee with too many nicknames to count. In a genre that’s notorious for multiple monikers, ODB wins, and wins big.
With that in mind, major salutes go out to the one and only, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, on his birthday. And may his memory spread joy throughout Hip Hop forever.
“God made Dirt and Dirt bust yo’ ass!”
Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Various Nicknames
*Big Baby Jesus* Sweet Baby Jesus
Osiris the Father
Ason Unique / Unique Ason
Ol’ Dirt Schultz
Old Dirty Chinese Restaurant (Chappelle’s Show)
The Bebop Specialist
The Man of All Rainbows
Big Box o’ Chili
Peanut the Kidnapper
RJ Tha Mad Specialist
Ill Irving the Murderer
The Drunken Master Styles