There was no figuring out Ol Dirty Bastard. Was he a wily Hip-Hop jester or a tragically misunderstood apostle of the Wu-Tang Clan? Both scenarios, and all points in between, are debatable, but what is certain is that his deeds were legendary. Whether it be saving a child pinned underneath a car in front of a studio or bumrushing the stage at the 1998 Grammy Awards after Diddy won the award for Best Rap Album [Admit it, the Clan did get jerked], we all watched with equal parts trepidation and amusement.
I was blessed to speak to Dirt McGirt shortly after his release from prison. The good folks at [Elemental Magazine], asked me to interview him for one of their cover stories commemorating, at the time, their pending 50th issue. Dirty was cautious with his answers at first, as he was with the photographer, but as the interview progressed he warmed up and became more revealing. Its obvious he was a man strong in his convictions. Its a shame he didnt live to see his career get back on track before he passed away on November 13, 2004. Though an autopsy later found he had a lethal mix of prescribed painkillers and cocaine in his system, his legacy is that of a storied figure in Hip-Hop history. Here is that fateful interview which occurred at Rocawearss Fashion District offices, sometime in late May, 2003.
AllHipHop.com: Whens the last time you recorded?
Ol Dirty Bastard: [The] last time I recorded was yesterday. As soon as I got out, I went to the studio the next day.
AllHipHop.com: Were youre skills rusty at all?
Ol Dirty Bastard: That is my name, Rusty, so I dont know if Im rusty or not.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the difference between Dirt McGirt and Ol Dirty?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Its just new style, old style. Ol Dirty is raw and crazy, rugged, ya know, ghetto. Ol Dirty is the one who makes things crazy in Hip-Hop. I catch all types of peoples minds and Dirt McGirt is just the new style. Being able to be on point with the music, how music is made now.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned earlier youre not trying to be funny this year?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Yeah, I mean, just trying to get money and s**t. Things thats funny, I leave to the side. Im trying to be serious and s**t. Cause Wu-Tang is serious. I am the crazy [one] making people laugh and s**t, out the crew. Maybe this year, I dont know, I just got a serious state of mind right now.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of times your skills on the mic get ignored and people focus on your personality, is that frustrating?
Ol Dirty Bastard: No, its not. Whatever, you feel me? I dont know if its annoying. I thought it was all beautiful. Thats how I look at it.
AllHipHop.com: How is it being be down with Roc-A-Fella?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Its cool. They alright; they in my corner, so Im in they corner.
AllHipHop.com: Youve been gone these last two years, how did they treat you?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Terrible.
AllHipHop.com: Terrible, like worse than the average [inmate]?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Yes.
AllHipHop.com: How did you make it through?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I made it through with a white man. One white man, he just said, Come on, let me get you somewhere safe. And let me get you somewhere where ya know correction officers [arent] holding guns and weapons and s**t, where you can get harmed at. The white mans name was Robert, and he said dont worry Ima help you and he got me out of there. I was in an unsafe place where the government is trying to kill me at, and all kinds of s**t was going on s**t that I dont really need to talk about. Ill keep it to myself. It dont make no sense talking about it anyway because everybody act like they motherf**kin blind to the truth. As long as they blind to the truth and I dont see how you can be close to Jesus if you blind to the truth but thats cool anyway, but Im out man, and Im just making hits.
AllHipHop.com: It seems like youve been persecuted more than the average rapper?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Yeah, they picked on me for little, small s**t. They shot up my truck before. Its just when they I figure when they see Ol Dirty Bastard they think that Im a ghetto gun slinger [or] some type of bad influence. But Im not. What I am is just who I am, and thats it.
AllHipHop.com: A bunch of your incidents have been the result of people coming at you, do you watch your back more closely because of that?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I dont watch my back outside no more. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I watch my back inside. Im trying to stay out of that prison cause that s**t aint the move. They got orders to kill motherf**kers how they talkin. Im just trying to stay away from that way of life.
AllHipHop.com: How do you plan to stay away?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Being sober. Following appointments. Doing etcetera, etcetera.
AllHipHop.com: Are you on any medication at all?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Nah, Im not on medication.
AllHipHop.com: Hows your family doing?
Ol Dirty Bastard: The family is okay, they cool. Everybodys cool. Just trying to something right for them once upon a time.
AllHipHop.com: Did they support you while you were away?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Nobody supports Dirty but Dirty. Dirty is just a self-contained unit. And thats who support Dirty, its Dirty. And Roc-A-Fella.
AllHipHop.com: What about the Wu?
Ol Dirty Bastard: What about the Wu? If you want to say they support me, then f**k it, [then] say they support me.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the music youre making now going to reveal about you?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Basically, its going to show that I got pizzaz. Its going to show what the street is about. Its going to show many things. Its going to be hot, man. I dont really like to detail the s**t; its going to be that s**t that n***as missed. Ol Dirty got a voice that people like to hear. Im the loudmouth of rap. Ya know, they need that s**t. Its going to be back again.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything you would have done differently in your career thus far?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Looking back on it, maybe. On some of my songs I was supposed to come calm. Thats how Im going to do now, calm and angry.
AllHipHop.com: Wheres the anger coming from?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Just through the vocals. That crazy Ol Dirty Bastard style that people love, just being ODB, period.
AllHipHop.com: Poppa Wu was telling me that you had to go through trials and tribulations
Ol Dirty Bastard: I just wish I wasnt f**king with them drugs. Thats the biggest mistake of my life, is drugs. Thats what kills motherf**kas. When they say drugs kill, they dont play. I dont know about ODing and s**t like that, but I know that drugs do kill. I just wish I wasnt on drugs back in the day. Drinking, liquor, ya know what Im saying, cause it changes me. It makes me Im a party animal anyway. Im a party animal when I drink [laughing]. I know how to put myself in tune with any kind of music you put on and just love music. I sing my raps. People love that s**t. Its a different style. You got Jay-Z, his style. You got Ol Dirty Bastard, his style. You got Snoop Dogg, his style, you got 50 [Cent], his style, and you got Wu-Tang, they styles. I just got that style thats needed.
AllHipHop.com: So youre trying to fill a void thats missing?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Something is missing, definitely. Everything is suave to me now, ya feel me? When you hear Hip-Hop beats, the s**t that makes your head bop and you feel it in your bones. You dont feel it in your bones no more. Because everybody just getting suave. I mean its cool, but I know when I like to be in the motherf**kin club, and they put on s**t like [starts beat boxing Biz Markies Nobody Beats the Biz], that s**t make your head you moving in a way that you catching cramps and s**t! Nowadays, they aint doing that s**t. Everybody just dancing, dancing to party, they just dancing to party, and I noticed that s**t. So thats where Ol Dirty comes in at. Ol Dirty, ya know, its like I dont want to talk about it, man, I just want that flavor to remain the same. I dont want nothing to change. If it change, I want it to change for the better of the future. But if thats the s**t, I want my s**t to be where n***as head bop to the s**t.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anybody current that you think still has some of that?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I dont know, man. I aint hear it yet. Thats whats missing. Im trying to find that producer that has that type of s**t, and its hard, man. Other than that though, music is good anyway. The music thats playing is good; I like it. I like how Bad Boy get down for raw, them n***as dont play. And Wu-Tang dont play. Thats why I joined with Roc-A-Fella. Because Roc-A-fella, they abstract, they the future to me. They got sounds that my ears like to hear. I love Jay-Zs [work], his s**t is banging. So I said let me connect with these motherf**kers, man, so I can have some banging s**t. Cause n***as know Wu-Tang, so I saw, what if I take Wu-Tang and put it with Roc-A-Fella? That s**t would probably really slam. Thats what I did man.
AllHipHop.com: Do you still feel like you can trust a label ever since Elektra released you?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I dont know if they turned they back on me. I dont know what the f**k happened. What happened, happened. Whatever. ODB can walk up in any motherf**kin offices and get a motherf**kin job. But I choose Roc-A-fella because they got it going on and s**t.
AllHipHop.com: At this point, do you feel as comfortable now in the direction your career is about to head?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I feel as comfortable as I can get. N***as like me, we struggle and s**t, for this money and s**t. Like Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang is the scientists of rap. Theres nothing Wu-Tang cant break down. Theres no wall Wu-Tang cant break down. I dont know, its like the people recognize it I dont know man some of these companies, man, they bug out on me and s**t. They do s**t halfway instead of doing it the full way. Thats it, man.
AllHipHop.com: So is Roc-A-Fella going to be able to do the job?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I hope so.
AllHipHop.com: How are your children doing?
Ol Dirty Bastard: I keep in contact with them.
AllHipHop.com: How much are they a part of your life?
Ol Dirty Bastard: A lot of it, thats it.
AllHipHop.com: Do you try to provide for them?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Yeah.
AllHipHop.com: From what youre saying it seems like the authorities are really out to get you?
Ol Dirty Bastard: All I know is some moves and s**t is going down. They out to get that motherf**ker. I just gotta watch my back. Certain places I go. Certain things I do. Im on parole now. The parole officer acting funny and s**t. He act like he down cause he aint down, ya feel me? You can detect when a motherf**kers down and when he aint really down. Its a whole organization of that s**t. I know it was only one Moses and he was in The Bible and he had at least 1500 n***as after him. Thousands, so, I guess its the same way but not exactly the same way. You can catch me in the street. Put it this way, Im just here to make records and sell them s**ts, period.
I got my eyes open. As long as Im making money, I dont give a f**k, cause it comes and goes any f**king way. As long as Im able to buy me homes and cars and save money up for the kids, thats all that matters to me. Thats why Im trying to enterprise in different things, be on top of things. And thats it, man.
AllHipHop.com: The Dirt McGirt everyone sees on MTV or BET, how much of that is Russell Jones behind private doors?
Ol Dirty Bastard: Its the same s**t. Russull Jones, Dirt McGirt, they both have the same f**king meaning: One Man Army Ason. Thats the meaning. Never been tooken out, keep MCs looking out. Its like I just want to take it from one spot and move it to another spot like Im f**king with the computer.
AllHipHop.com: Youre quoting Brooklyn Zoo, when you break down every line its real technical
Ol Dirty Bastard: Thats just Unique Ason, man. Thats just being frustrated, angry at the crowd, and ya know just kicking lyrics and s**t. I want to make another one like that. Im just incorporating an album, Ima put different style to it. Brooklyn Zoo actually was the song that opened the door for black people to become famous in rap. Because you dont get nobody yelling on them motherf**kin records. When I made that album, they told me, We dont want you yellin, we dont want you doing this. I mean, thats how it was back in the days. Theyll tell you we want your album like this, we want your album like that. But I told them motherf**kers, I said, [If] you dont put that s**t out how it is, f**k yall, dont put it out! Im not changing s**t. Who the f**k is you to tell Ol Dirty Bastard how to make a motherf**kin record? Thats how my mind was locked in. And it still is locked in that way. Now I take conversation and suggestions now to blend in with Hip-Hop as the world turns and thats about it man. Brooklyn Zoo is the baddest Hip-Hop, gangsta [song] out. That s**t take anything. That Mobb Deep and motherf**kin Method Man, M-E-T-H-O-D Man! Those the s**ts right there, and thats it, man. What Im telling you people is Wu-Tang Clan is coming after you, best to protect your neck, it was ten years ago that we moved it like a computer, like I told you, to ten years [later] now, in the future. So imagine how we coming. We coming s**tty dog on you. So just go in the stores and quietly and kindly yell, Give me Dirtys s**t, and the magic will be done. And you play it in your car stereos, baby.