44 years ago today, Russell Tyrone Jones, the man who would rise to infamous prominence as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, was born. Over the course of two official solo albums, four Wu-Tang Clan albums (his participation on The W and Iron Flag was practically nonexistent, as he was in and out of prison), and a slew of guest appearances, ODB would curse, scream, and rhyme his way into one of hip-hop’s most endearingly deranged figures, a gale force gust of words, sounds, coherence, and complete incoherence.
Though Method Man has claimed that RZA and GZA wrote much of ODB’s celebrated, singular Return to the 36 Chambers, the unhinged ASON Unique delivered each line in a style all his own, a violently unpredictable jumble of rapping, off-key singing, and shouting, often within a few breaths, occasionally all at once. His rhymes balanced ideas and images both raw and absurd, jumping quickly from cold realities to lewd desires, chuckle-inducing boasts and utterly outlandish threats. We’re not hear to debate discuss authorship; though the lines may not have been his own, only ODB was capable of injecting them with the unpredictable kinetics that made him one of hip-hop’s most enduring, singular personalities.
His contributions to the Wu-Tang lore and aesthetic are undeniable; his solo albums–in particular his RZA-helmed debut Return to the 36 Chambers–are mostly stellar. In honor of his birthday (brief life, ending tragically at the age of 36 eight years ago), we celebrate some of the lines that inspired our love for the one and only Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
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