13 years ago today, the rap world lost one of its most memorable figures and the Wu-Tang Clan lost one of its most recognizable members: Russell Tyrone Jones, better known to music fans as Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
O.D.B., as he will henceforth be called, was born on November 15, 1968 in Brooklyn, and he and his cousins Robert Diggs and Gary Grice – soon to be known as RZA and GZA – took their love of martial-arts movies and rap music and started a musical collective called Force of the Imperial Master. In short order, the trio released a single called “All in Together Now,” after which they decided to call themselves that instead, but after added half a dozen more folks to their collective, All in Together Now changed their name again, this time to the Wu-Tang Clan, releasing their debut album, ENTER THE WU-TANG (36 CHAMBERS) in 1993.
Although O.D.B. continued as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, he kicked off his solo career in 1995, releasing RETURN TO THE 36 CHAMBERS: THE DIRTY VERSION, which – with the help of hits like “Brooklyn Zoo” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” – went gold, as did his follow-up album, 1999’s NIGGA PLEASE, which featured the Kelis collaboration “Got Your Money.” But that was far from O.D.B.’s only collaboration: he found massive mainstream recognition as a result of being on the remix of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy,” and he was also part of “Ghetto Supastar,” by Pras Michel, which introduced Mya to the world. Beyond that, he also worked with Mark Ronson, Method Man, Kanye West, Snoop Dopp, Insane Clown Posse… The list goes on.
Unfortunately, O.D.B.’s success did not remove his demons, and his battles with drug addiction led him down a troublesome path, including jail time for crack cocaine possession. He was also convicted of second degree assault in 1993 for an attempted robbery, was shot the following year after getting into an argument with another rapper, was arrested for failure to pay child support in 1997… Yeah, unfortunately, this list goes on, too, and it only gets worse.
Even more unfortunately, it all came to an end on November 13, 2004, when O.D.B. collapsed at RZA’s recording studio and subsequently died. The autopsy confirmed what many had expected, given his past trials and tribulations: he had accidentally overdosed on a mixture of cocaine and tramadol.
Despite all the battles O.D.B. fought in his life, he nonetheless managed to make some great music in his too-brief lifetime. To celebrate his career, we’re offering up a stream of THE DEFINITIVE OL’ DIRTY BASTARD STORY. If you don’t know his work, educate yourself, after which you’ll realize just how much we lost when we lost him.
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