Russell Tyrone Jones, known by most as Old Dirty Bastard, died last Saturday of unknown causes. ODB, member of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan and solo rapper, was at the Wu-Tang recording studio in Brooklyn, NY when he collapsed, shortly after complaining of chest pains. He was pronounced dead about half an hour later, after EMS failed to resuscitate him. Because his autopsy reports were inconclusive, toxicology and tissue tests will most likely determine his cause of death and will be announced within one week. ODB would have been 36 last Monday.
“ODB’s death is tragic to the hip-hop world because he was really well known by the community,” said USF student Jonathan Franks. “A big name in hip-hop is now gone.”
ODB, born and raised in Brooklyn, was introduced to hip-hop through his cousins, RZA and GZA. By the early 1990s, the three had formed Wu-Tang Clan, which later added six more members.
In 1993 Wu-Tang released its first album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Soon after, ODB went solo and released two albums: 1995’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, which featured “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and 1999’s N—a Please which featured his biggest hit, “Got Your Money.”
ODB, also known as Big Baby Jesus, Dirt McGirt, Osirus, Joe Bannanas [sic], Dirt Dog, and Unique Ason, was just as well-known for his trouble with the law as he was for his nonsensical rapping style.
One USF student, Ian Medhurst, thinks that ODB was relevant in the rap world because “he liked it raw,” adding, “I’ll miss Big Baby Jesus; his rhymes, his lyrical style, but I’m not going to cry about it.”
Between 1993 and 2003, ODB was convicted of second-degree assault, shot in the stomach by another rapper, arrested for not paying child support for three, pleaded guilty to attempted assault on his wife, was arrested for shoplifting, was accused of firing a gun at officers and was arrested when police found crack in his car after being pulled over for a traffic violation.
After his last arrest, ODB was sentenced to three years of probation and one year in a drug-rehab facility. With only two months to go in rehab, ODB walked out after an argument with the staff and became a fugitive. A month later he was caught and sentenced to two years in prison.
ODB was released from prison in 2003 and was signed to Damon Dash’s record label Roc-A-Fella. ODB then began rapping as Dirt McGirt.
ODB was also well known for his wild, random antics. After Wu-Tang lost a Grammy to P. Diddy at the 1998 Grammy Awards, ODB rushed the stage as Shawn Colvin was accepting her award in another category, grabbed the mic and complained about P. Diddy winning. He ended with the strange proclamation, “Wu-Tang are for the children!”
ODB’s manager said he completed a few projects before his death, including a DVD and a reality TV show for the Spike TV channel, and that they will continue to move forward.