On November 13, 2004, Hip-Hop lost one of its most enigmatic figures. Russell Jones, better known to millions as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, died of a drug overdose two days before his 36th Birthday. Method Man perfectly described ODB on “Can It Be All So Simple” from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), “ [there] ain’t no father to his style.” He was a true original. And as time has passed, not surprisingly, the artist also known as Big Baby Jesus has proven to be a very influential figure to many rappers that came after him.
Therefore, for the tenth anniversary of ODB’s passing, AllHipHop.com has decided to recognize his life by compiling a list of ten things today’s rappers do that Ol’ Dirty Bastard did first. So while he may be physically gone, he will never be forgotten. Because of his incredible timeless music and unforgettable behavior, ODB will forever be etched in our minds.
10). Legal Drama: Rappers having legal run-ins certainly isn’t unheard of, but sometimes it gets to a point where a rap sheet overshadows a rap career. In recent times, DMX comes to mind as an emcee who fits that bill. But Ol’ Dirty Bastard did too in the mid-90s. In just 1998 alone, he was in trouble with the law no less than 3 times.
9). Bad Press: In the TMZ culture of today, everybody who is anybody is bound to end up in front of a paparazzi camera when they don’t want to. However, there is a line between flattering and embarrassing. So as bad as it was for Rick Ross to advise people to cheat in school in his advice column, it was even worse when ODB, after achieving mainstream success, took a limo and an MTV camera crew to go pick up a welfare check.
8). Just for Laughs: Hip-Hop and comedy are very similar in that they are able to entertain and express a specific point of view. Thus, it’s not surprising that they cross paths from time to time. And while comedians sometimes appear on rap albums, even more seldom seen is rapper’s on comedy albums. In the case of Ol’ Dirty Bastard though, he appeared on Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker in the particularly funny “ O.D.B. Words of Wisdom” segments. ODB’s inclusion on the album (as well as Ice Cube’s) was so successful that for Rock’s following album, Never Scared, he enlisted the help of Lil Jon.
7). Crossing Over Without Making Concessions: Eminem was the first rapper to win an Oscar with a universal against all odds masterpiece song (see number 5), but, when Three 6 Mafia won one for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” that was memorable because its subject matter was just as checkered as the majority of Three 6 content. They succeeded in the mainstream without compromising a damn thing. Ol’ Dirty Bastard also saw his biggest solo hit, “Got Your Money,” without changing himself either.
6). Strength in Numbers: The reunion of G-Unit made the news in 2014 because of their movement a little over a decade ago. And one of the reasons 50 Cent’s second album, The Massacre, sold over a million copies in a week back in ’05 is because of the momentum of G-Unit running on all cylinders. 50 not only made guest appearances on other G-Unit members’ albums, but the group also put out the 2X platinum album, Beg For Mercy, as a collective. ODB did the same with the Wu-Tang Clan and some of the members’ solo projects between his own.
5). Hip-Hop and Hollywood: Hip Hop inspired films don’t always fare well at the box-office, but the music inspired by the film can still shoot up the charts if the film flops. But sometimes, when the music and film hits, it leaves a lasting impression that exceeds all expectations. One the best examples of this is “Ghetto Supastar (That is What You Are)” by Pras, Mya, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, from the critically-acclaimed film, Bulworth. Eminem would succeed in the same way with 8 Mile and “Lose Yourself” four years later, and even take home an Oscar for Best Original Song.
4). Carry a Tune and Ride a Beat: There is certainly a difference in Drake’s content when compared to ODB’s, but, like ODB, Drake also combines singing and spitting. Even if Drake switches between the two and ODB combined them, it’s something that makes both stand out when compared to respective contemporaries. Their ability to balance those two elements, and in their own ways, certainly earns both of them a spot in the Hip-Hop history books.
3). Rise to Fame: Kendrick Lamar recently recognized Lil Wayne as a Hip-Hop legend. One of the things that can be attributed to Weezy’s ascent is the work he put in between The Carter II and III via the mixtape circuit. Similarly, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s star power grew considerably between his debut and sophomore solo sets. The “Fantasy [Remix]” with Mariah Carey pretty much gave birth to Hip-Pop music and the aforementioned “Ghetto Supastar (That is What You Are)” is an undeniable 90’s classic. Neither of them would have made the impact they did if it weren’t for the contributions of Mr. Jones. And if it weren’t for them, Mr. Jones wouldn’t have made as much of an impact.
2). Do the Right Thing: In February 1998, Dirty and 11 other men saved a 4-year-old girl from being crushed to death by a Mustang by lifting it off of her. Years later, T.I. would also save a life. In the fall of 2010, he talked a man out of jumping off a 22-story building.
1). Pardon the Interruption: Kanye West has made headlines more than once for his brazen behavior and commentary. But one of the most unforgettable instances of this is when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMAs in 2009. However, he isn’t the first to crash an awards show stage. In 1998, while Shawn Colvin was accepting a Grammy, ODB went up, grabbed the mic, and said, “Wu-Tang is for the kids… Puff Daddy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best!”
What’s your favorite Ol’ Dirty Bastard moment? How do you think he changed Hip-Hop? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!