its been several years since his untimely passing, Hip-Hop has yet to
find another Ol Dirty Bastard. In fact, it wouldnt be a stretch to
say the odds of ever finding him again are slim-to-none. Name another
rapper who bumrushed The Grammys, allegedly got held up by Diddys
goons, then saved a little girl from being crushed to deathall in the
same week. There truly was no father to his style, in the booth or out
in the worldbut there was a mother.
Just in time for Mothers Day, AllHipHop.com caught up with Ms. Cherry
Jones to see how shes coped with the loss of her son, and to explore
the murky details surrounding the late rappers estate. Though shes
endured a public feud with his former wife, and has been burdened with
the debts he accumulated, she carries herself forward with dignity,
grace, and a sense of humor not unlike Dirtys. Sitting down with her
in her Brooklyn Brownstone, one gets the sense that much of his talent
came directly from his mama. Whether its the way she laughs, or how
she bats her eyes when she smiles, youre left with the impression that
a part of Ol Dirty is still alive and kicking in spirit. And while it
hasnt been an easy coping with the loss, Ms. Jones is determined to
carry on and survive, sadly, without the support of her sons fellow
members of the Wu-Tang Clan.
AllHipHop.com: I actually read an interview from The Village Voice and the writer paraphrased you saying that your son didnt like having you backstage. Why?
Cherry Jones: He didnt want me in the music industry, period. He knew
it was a cruel world, and he cant be onstage and take care of me at
the same time. [He said] Mama, I dont want you involved in the
business, but I told him the last time he came out [of jail] that I
was going to be in the business so he could have something. We he was
with Wu-Tang, he had nothing. [Laughs] Nothing. Everything he wanted for he had to go and beg. He had to fight them for a dollar bill.
AllHipHop.com: So, even off of [Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version], he had to fight for his fair share of the profits?
Cherry Jones: He had to fight for everything, you know, beg:
I need a couple dollars here. It takes time to make money in the
music industry. Rusty was never rich. He just made enough money to
survive and take care of his child support. He was never able to buy a
home. He was never able to buy his mother a home. He was rich inside;
whatever he had, he gave, but I never was able to sit down [and live off of him]. I told him I could buy him a house. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: What did you do to support yourself?
Cherry Jones: I worked for NYPDI was a corrections officer. I did
everything. I was driving the buses in Manhattan; I started that job
when I was 59. Ill be 61 in July. I could never stop working. [Even]
now, I dont have a penny. When he died, his wife never lived with him,
but she walked in and poof [took all available money for herself]. But I retire next year, so I aint gonna worry.
AllHipHop.com: He was quite prolific as an artist. What would you say
were some of the things you instilled in him as a little kid?
Cherry Jones: Never forget who you came from. A lot of these
entertainers get up there and think theyre too good to stop and even
speak to you. I told him not to forget where you came from, because the
same people you meet going up, you meet going down. Always take the
time to stop and say hello. He used to go downtown and feed the poor.
He never had a [driver s license], so hed be on the train and the bus
AllHipHop.com: I didnt know that he had an expensive taste in clothes. Whered he get that from?
Cherry Jones: He always had that because I didnt put anything cheap on
them when they were children. I taught him that if you buy something of
good quality, itll go down the line; I had seven kids. If I bought
something good, I could pass that down to the next child, and the next
child and thats what I did. I told him to never put no cheap shoes on
your feet; you buy a good shoe. I instilled that in him, thank
goodness, because his wife used to tell me shed go to Paylessand he
hated that. He hated it, so hed go and do all the shopping. Hed buy her clothes, his clothes and all the kids clothes.
AllHipHop.com: What would you say your relationship is with her? I can sense a little tension.
Cherry Jones: I havent seen her since the funeral. I never did
anything to her. But she takes time to go on Wendy Williams and
threaten my life and stomp my brains out so, I left everything in the
hands of God. I didnt understand [the falling out]. We were friends
until the day he died.
AllHipHop.com: So, what happened?
Cherry Jones: He was signed to a million-dollar deal [with Roc-A-Fella Records]. She thought she was gonna get the million dollars. Shes too
ignorant to know that he didnt get nowhere near that money anyway;
Damon Dash never paid him. If he had lived, he probably would have got
his money, you know, but he was never paid. She thought that all that
money was gonna go to her, but she aint know that all the money that was paid to him was going towards making the album. [Laughs] So she told the world that I robbed a million dollars from Dirty.
AllHipHop.com: But, obviously, you dont have that.
Cherry Jones: Have what? [Laughs] I dont have a penny. A lot of times
I walk to Downtown Brooklyn. I dont even have [cab] fare. Dirty bought
an expensive car for $80,000 and Im paying for it through the help of
my mom and my father-in-law. Dirty bought it for his friend and Im not
gonna let his friend go down so, every month Im looking to make a
payment. He bought it in October he died in November. Its a Chrysler
300 Hemi Special Edition with wood trim inside and everything. If I had
[that million dollars], wouldnt it have been paid for? When I finish
paying for it, Im gonna try and put it on eBay and sell it to pay off
some of his taxes and stuff. We he came out [of jail] I had
power-of-attorney. They put my name on everything he bought. Things
will work out, though. I aint got time to worry about it. You worry
about it, you get old-looking. You get bags under your eyes I aint
even worried about it. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: You dont even look 61, by the way. Im not even saying that to butter you up.
Cherry Jones. Thank you.
[Laughs] If he was alive, I wouldnt have to worry about anything
because he took care of his mother. But the wife [messed things up].
She actually told the courts that she wanted everything. Like Dirty
wasnt going to take care of his mother! So, if he gave me any money
while he was living with me, she wanted that back. I think thats sick.
AllHipHop.com: Where is she living now?
Cherry Jones: In Georgia. She just had a baby with this guy shes been
with for a long time. She wanted all my [RIAA] plaques. I told her,
Come here and try to take them. You cant take nothing from me.
Everything I have, he put in my hands. He said, Mommy, this is for
you. If he wanted you to have it, he wouldve said, Here wifey, this
is for you.
AllHipHop.com: The RZA and Dirty were cousins. Hes your nephew. Do you talk to him often?
Cherry Jones: I dont. They dont call you. The last time I saw RZA was
out in Cali at Rock The Bells. He didnt pay for my ticket, he didnt
invite me. Chang [The concerts promoter] set me up to go out there. He
had nothing to do with it. Other people arrange for me to go places. The VH1 Hip-Hop [Honors]? My girlfriend told me about it. He didnt tell me anything.
AllHipHop.com: Is anyone from the group staying in touch with you?
Cherry Jones: No. Not one of them.
AllHipHop.com: Now, could that just be a case of Out of sight, Out of mind?
Cherry Jones: They dont contact me on anything. They might be busy, I
dont know. But when it comes to family, pick up the phone. I dont
have their number
I had RZAs number, but I guess with so many people calling him, he
changed it, you know. He gets me aggravated. Every time you call him,
he thinks you want something. I never asked him for nothing. Well, I
asked him one time to help me with Dirtys car and he said he didnt
have nothing so, Ive been doing it on my own ever since Dirty died. I
aint gonna ask you but one time. Its hard, but Im hanging in there.
AllHipHop.com: He really was larger than life, in a lot of ways
Cherry Jones: Oh, yes. Yes, he was. Even now, when Wu-Tangs on stage,
people scream, Dirty, Dirty, Dirty! It makes you feel good. It really
Allhiphop.com: Jay-Z too. I saw him in concert last summer and he had the crowd singing Brooklyn Zoo.
Cherry Jones: Oh, wow! I really like that. You know, they never really got along
Allhiphop.com: Really? Why?
Cherry Jones: Cause Dirty [was] like that. He wanted to be the
front-and-center. If you up there singing, hed go up there and take
the show. He was always like that. Id tell him, Thats not nice. He
didnt care. [When he was on the lam], hed put a hoodie on and go I
gotta get outta here because they gonna lock me up. I said, Boy, you
stupid. Then he goes in McDonalds [In Philadelphia and gets
arrested]. They told him to stay in the car, but he comes out and says
They locked me up. You walked in and they locked you up? [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: You know, I was watching the Grammy incident last nite. He was very calm and professional when he took the mic
Cherry Jones: Rage Against The Machine said, Wouldnt nobody do it but
Dirty. They said they loved it! I said, All of yall are stupid. I
said it [to Dirty] It wasnt nice of you to do that, either. Dont you
ever do that again in your life. Ill tear your head up. [Laughs] He was sober, you know
Cherry Jones: Really. On the way there, a limousine came and picked us
up. He stopped at almost every corner and bought little bottles of
water. He had nothing to drink that night. Nothing at all. So when he
went up there, I felt bad, but I said At least the boy is sober.
Puffys people had him hemmed up by the neck. His henchmen aint gonna
hem up my doggone son. I said, Its time for me to fight. He said,
Calm down mommy, everything is gonna be okay. If Rusty dont wanna
fight, you know
hes sober! His bodyguards had him by the throat down there because of
the comment he made: Puffys good, but Wu-Tangs the best. After
seeing him like that, I said, Boy, he really need a drink! [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Were there any moments you were proud of in particular?
Cherry Jones: When he got to The Garden, I went. He was with Mariah
Carey. He bought me a great big bouquet of flowers and, it was so nice.
I was so proud of him that night. He had no clothes; the clothes they
brought him were too small, so he stripped Poppa Wu [his cousin] right
out of his clothes. He really did. Then he went on stage and the kids
loved him. [Mariah] didnt go on stage with him because he had just
came in off tour. He came straight from the plane into The Garden. He
didnt have time to rehearse with her, so she didnt sing with him. He
went on the stage and rocked the house without her. He said, Screw
her! [Laughs]. I said, Boy, you stupid! He was fantastic.
AllHipHop.com: Im about to ask you a dumb question, but, howd it feel when you first heard the news?
Cherry Jones: I lost my mind. What bothered me the most was, they had
called me, and they hadnt even called the ambulance. They said, uh,
Dirtys on the floor and were not getting a response. I started
screaming, Why dont yall call the damn ambulance? Hed probably
been dead a long time thats why they never called I dont know I dont
know. Dirty lived a life he wanted to live. He was about to go on tour
and he said to me, Mom, this is the last time youre gonna see me. He
said he was going to Mexico. I told him that, If you go, give your
mother a call and tell me that youre okay. He never got a chance to
call because he died in the studio. The RZA sent a limo to pick him up.
He got off the plane on a Friday and died on a Saturday. He had cocaine
in his system, and when he was on tour, he fell off the stage and
[surgically] had pins placed in his foot which was very painful. So,
when he got to the studio, he asked for a painkiller like Tylenol and
they gave him something much stronger, like Tramadol. With the coke,
its a deadly mixture, thats what the medical examiner told me he had
a smile on his face, though . I used to wash him and put him in his
clothes that was my boy. When he told me, This is the last time youre
gonna see me, maybe he felt something, you know? But I enjoyed every
day of his life.