Happy Birthday, Ol’ Dirty Bastard!
Over a decade after his passing, there's still no rapper quite like Ol' Dirty Bastard. Today, the late Wu-Tang Clan rapper would have celebrated his 49th birthday (Nov. 15).
ODB, whose real name is Russell Jones, was the definition of hip-hop spontaneity. He was an eccentric both as a person and a rhymer, snapping into sing-song and shouts in the middle of a verse on a whim. He'd still make a hit out of all the absurdity, like "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Got Your Money" featuring Kelis.
In March of 1995, ODB (also known as Ason Unique) delivered his most celebrated album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. The collection is a trip into hip-hop surrealism and features the bombastic track "Brooklyn Zoo."
Sadly, ODB's behavior became self-destructive. While stunts like getting a welfare check had inherent humor, but it was possible that Ason had serious mental issues. His issues were never resolved. On Nov. 13 2004, ODB died from a drug overdose.
The tragedy of ODB is a complex thing. His mania ended up killing him, but that, along with his artistic creativity, made him one of hip-hop's biggest folk legends.