Ol' Dirty. Too young to die, Too weird to live.
just heard that one of my favorite contemporaries passed away last week. (Where was I?)
Ol' Dirty Bastard is a singular, stupid talent. His album "N***a Please" still ranks in my 20 favorite albums of all time. He was everything wrong with rock and rap. Everything that was excessive and dumb. But it was glorious to hear that kind of unapologetic stupidity in music.
He was most effectively produced by RZA or the Neptunes, whose sparse & exotic beats gave ODB or Big Baby Jesus or Osirus or Dirt McGirt, whoever he was that week, the space to flail about vocally. Lyrically, tho' he spoke about real dis-ease. Mental illness. Drug addiction. Humorously. If you listened casually, he sounded like Richard Pryor doing a shrewd impersonation of the world's most idiotic entertainer and what he might rap about. The fact that Russell Jones lived that character is not unlike Elvis Presley being "Elvis." It is a testament to his commitment to his art. After all, this is the man who was arrested when a multi-state manhunt ended as he walked up to a McDonald's drive-thru and was recognized by cops in the parking lot. The only time I saw ODB in person was right after he was nearly walked into a pyro effect on stage at the Universal Amphitheatre during the MTV awards. He was wandering around the street behind the building, rather aimlessly.
This was a supreme clown. Trying to live up to his various names. Eternally high, but always self-aware. Don't forget, it was Ol' Dirty who bum rushed the 1998 Grammy's and announced that he hadn't bought a new suit for nothing and that "Wu-Tang was for the children!"
Rest in peace, Russell. You damn fool.