There have been no somber statements from the White House. There will be no tear-filled television specials showcasing his work in the community. No libraries or parks will be dedicated in his honor, and there won’t be a scholarship fund setup in his memory. But when rapper Russell Jones, better known as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB), Dirt McGirt, and, briefly, as Big Baby Jesus, died of an apparent heart attack, the world lost a gifted and original hip-hop legend.
Perhaps best known for his work with the Wu-Tang Clan, it was his actions outside the studio that grabbed the most attention. ODB also had a successful solo career culminating in his 2000 hit single, “Got Your Money,” an unusual pop hit featuring a pre-milkshake Kelis to accompany his slurred and bizarre rhymes. But success (otherwise known as crack-cocaine) soon got the better of ODB, as he found himself a fugitive-of-the-law when he fled a drug rehab stint in California. Always appreciative of his fans, he was picked up a month later signing autographs at a McDonald’s in Philadelphia, just two days after appearing on stage at a Wu-Tang concert in New York.
Released from a three-year jail sentence in 2003, ODB was said to be getting his life and career back on track and was in the process of recording a solo album when his heart finally gave out after years of out-of-control drug use. Funeral ceremonies were held on the 17th in his native Brooklyn and drew several thousand mourners. So this weekend, allow me to suggest a few things. Put a copy of the classic “36 Chambers” in your stereo, turn up the bass, and pour out some of that 40 in memory of Mr. McGirt – Dirty would have wanted it that way.