Russell Tyrone Jones (November 15, 1968 – November 13, 2004)
was an American rapper and occasional producer, who went by the stage
name Ol' Dirty Bastard or simply ODB. He was one of the founding
members of the Wu-Tang Clan, a Hip-Hop group from Staten Island,
New York that rose to mainstream prominence with their 1993 debut
album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
After establishing the Wu-Tang Clan, Ol' Dirty Bastard went on to
pursue a successful solo career. However, his professional success
was hampered by erratic personal behavior and frequent legal troubles,
including incarceration. He died in late 2004 of an accidental drug
overdose, two days before his 36th birthday.
Jones was often noted for his trademark microphone techniques and
his "outrageously profane, free-associative rhymes delivered
in a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style". His stage
name was derived from the 1980 martial arts film Ol' Dirty and the
Bastard, the relevance of which was articulated by Method Man's assertion
that there was "no father" to Jones' style.
Russell Jones was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1968. He and his
cousins Robert Diggs and Gary Grice shared a unique taste for rap
music and martial arts-style movies. Jones, Diggs, and Grice (later
known Ol' Dirty Bastard, RZA, and GZA respectively) formed the group
Force of the Imperial Master, which subsequently became known as
All in Together Now after their successful underground single of
the same name. They eventually added six more members to their group,
calling it the Wu-Tang Clan. The group released their debut album
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, receiving notable commercial
and critical success.
 Music career
Ol' Dirty Bastard's solo career began in 1995, making him the second
member of the Wu-Tang Clan to release a solo album, following Method
Man's 1994 album, Tical. Released on March 28, 1995, Return to the
36 Chambers: The Dirty Version spawned the hit singles "Brooklyn
Zoo" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya", which helped propel the
album to platinum status. The album's sound was noted by several
music writers as being "raw and gritty" as 36 Chambers,
with RZA and 4th disciple producing beats of an even more minimalist
and stripped-down style than on the group's debut album. In this
same year, Ol' Dirty Bastard collaborated with Mariah Carey for the "Fantasy
Around this time, Jones gained notoriety when, as he was being profiled
for an MTV biography, he took two of his thirteen children by limousine
to a New York State welfare office to pick up his welfare check;
his latest album was still in the top ten of the US charts. The entire
incident was filmed by an MTV camera crew and was broadcast nationwide.
In 1997, Ol' Dirty Bastard appeared on the Wu-Tang Clan's second
and most commercially successful work, the double album Wu-Tang Forever.
He had fewer appearances on this album than the group's debut, contributing
to one solo track ("Dog Shit"), three verses ("Maria", "Reunited", "Heaterz")
one hook ("As High as Wu-Tang Get"), and a spoken introduction/refrain
In February 1998, Jones witnessed a car accident from the window
of his Brooklyn recording studio. He and a friend ran to the accident
scene and organized about a dozen onlookers who assisted in lifting
the 1996 Ford Mustang—rescuing a 4-year-old girl from the wreckage.
She was taken to a hospital with first and second degree burns. Using
a false name, Jones visited the girl in the hospital frequently until
he was spotted by members of the media.
The evening following the traffic accident, Jones rushed on-stage
unexpectedly as Shawn Colvin took the stage to give her acceptance
speech for Song of the Year at the 1998 Grammy Awards, and announced
that he had recently purchased expensive clothes in anticipation
of winning the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album that he lost to Puff
Daddy. As Colvin took the stage to a round of applause, he asked
of the audience, "Please calm down, the music and everything.
It's nice that I went and bought me an outfit today that costed a
lot of money, you know what I mean? 'Cause I figured that Wu-Tang
was gonna win. I don't know how you all see it, but when it comes
to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children.
You know what I mean? Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best, Okay?
I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all. Peace!" This
incident was widely covered in the mainstream media.
In 1999, Ol' Dirty Bastard wrote and recorded his second studio
album Nigga Please between jail sentences. The album received notable
commercial success, although it failed to parallel the critical praise
of his debut. This release included the single "Got Your Money" which
garnered world-wide chart success. The song was produced by The Neptunes,
and featured backing vocals by R&B singer Kelis, both of which
would go on to pursue successful recording careers.
In 1999, Jones was paid $30,000 to appear on Insane Clown Posse's
album The Amazing Jeckel Brothers. Completing his track in two days,
his recording consisted of him rambling about "bitches".
Insane Clown Posse re-recorded the track and re-edited Jones' vocals
in order to form four rhymes out of his rambling, giving the song
the title "Bitches".
In 2001, with Jones again in jail for crack cocaine possession,
his record label Elektra Records made the decision to release a greatest
hits album (despite there being only two albums in his back catalog)
in order to both end their contract with the unreliable troubled
artist (see below section), as well as make some money off the publicity
generated by his legal troubles. After the contract with Elektra
was terminated, the label D-3 records released the album The Trials
and Tribulations of Russell Jones in 2002, composed of tracks put
together without Jones's input, using the vocals he had recorded
with hype-woman Sic-wif-it (Salome), DJ extrordinaire Organix (Eden),
and the high- profile lyricist T-Time (Tamara) prior to his capture
by authorities. The label recruited many guests including several
Wu-Tang Clan affiliates, No Limit Records artist C-Murder, Too $hort,
E-40 and Mack 10. However, the album was critically panned and sales
In 2003, the day he was released from prison, with Mariah Carey
and Damon Dash by his side, Jones signed a contract with Roc-A-Fella
Records. Living at his mother's home under house arrest, and with
a court-ordered probation, he managed to star in a VH1 special, Inside
Out: Ol' Dirty Bastard On Parole. He also managed to record a new
album, originally scheduled to be released through Dame Dash Music
Group in 2004; it has since been shelved indefinitely.
 Legal troubles
In 1993, Ol' Dirty Bastard was convicted of second degree assault
for an attempted robbery and in 1994, he was shot in the abdomen
following an argument with another rapper.
In 1997, he was arrested for failure to pay child support for three
of his 13 children. His wife, Icelene Jones, claimed he had not paid
any support in over a year.
In 1998, he pled guilty to attempted assault on his wife and was
the victim of a home invasion robbery at his girlfriend's house.
He was shot in the back and arm but the wounds were superficial.
In July 1998, only days after being shot in a push-in robbery at
his girlfriend's house in Brooklyn, he was arrested for shoplifting
a pair of $50 shoes from a Sneaker Stadium store in Virginia Beach,
Virginia, although he was carrying close to $500 in cash at the time.
He was issued bench warrants by the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Department
to stand trial after he failed to appear in court numerous times.
He was arrested for criminal threatening after a series of drunken
confrontations in Los Angeles a few weeks later, and was then re-arrested
for similar charges not long after that.
During a traffic stop, the details of which remain clouded in multiple
versions of events, he was arrested for attempted murder and criminal
weapon possession. The case was later dismissed.
In February 1999, he was arrested for driving without a license
and for being a convicted felon wearing a bulletproof vest (the first
person arrested for this infraction under a new California law).
Back in New York weeks later, he was arrested for drug possession
of crack cocaine and for traffic offenses. With multiple cases in
the past and present, he was arrested with marijuana and 20 vials
of crack. After his arrest, Ol' Dirty Bastard reportedly asked the
police to "make the rocks disappear". During a court hearing,
he once called a female prosecutor a "sperm donor."
This criminal record was commented on by Chris Rock in his 1999
spoken word song, "No Sex (In the Champagne Room)", with
Rock asserting that "Ol' Dirty Bastard couldn't have possibly
committed all those crimes."
Ol' Dirty Bastard entered rehab while still technically a fugitive
from the law, but erratic behavior during a subsequent court date
sent him to jail for a brief period.
In October 2000, he escaped from his court-mandated drug treatment
facility and spent one month as a fugitive. During his time on the
run, he met with RZA and spent some time in their recording studio.
He then appeared onstage at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York
swigging a bottle at the record release party for The W, the third
Wu-Tang Clan album. In late November 2000 while still on the lam,
he was arrested outside a South Philadelphia McDonald's (at 29th
and Gray's Ferry Ave.), after he drew a crowd while signing autographs.
He spent several days in a Philadelphia jail and was later extradited
to New York City. A Manhattan court sentenced him to two to four
Leading up to his early death, Jones' legal troubles and odd behavior
made him "something of a folk hero", according to The New
Yorker writer Michael Agger. Music writer Steve Huey wrote that "it
was difficult for observers to tell whether Ol' Dirty Bastard's wildly
erratic behavior was the result of serious drug problems or genuine
Jones collapsed at approximately 4:35 p.m. on November 13, 2004
(two days before his 36th birthday) at RZA's recording studio (36
Records LLC on West 34th Street in New York City). He was pronounced
dead at 5:04pm. His funeral was held at Brooklyn's Christian Cultural
Center and drew a crowd of thousands.
The official cause of death was a drug overdose; an autopsy found
a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription drug Tramadol, a
synthetic opiate. The overdose was ruled accidental and witnesses
say that Jones complained of chest pain on the day he died.
In November 2009, a video documentary about Ol' Dirty Bastard's
life, Dirty: The Official Ol' Dirty Bastard Biography, was released.
The documentary features interviews and stories from Wu-Tang members,
affiliates, and family members, as well as old interviews and live
Main article: Ol' Dirty Bastard discography
* 1995: Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version
* 1999: Nigga Please
* Unreleased: A Son Unique