Ol' Dirty Bastard simultaneously brought a measure of humor and a touch of the absurd to the Wu-Tang Clan. Often noted for his unusual mic technique (critic Steve Huey writes of Jones's "outrageously profane, free-associative rhymes" delivered "in a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style"), Jones's stage name came from a 1980 kung fu film entitled Ol' Dirty & The Bastard, the relevance of which was articulated by Method Man's assertion that there was "no father" to Jones's style.
After establishing the Wu-Tang Clan, Ol' Dirty Bastard went on to a successful solo career. However, his professional success was hampered by his erratic personal behavior and frequent legal troubles, including incarceration. He died in late 2004 of a drug overdose in a recording studio.
Life and Career
Ol' Dirty Bastard was born Russell Jones in Brooklyn in 1968, and grew up in the neighborhood of Fort Greene. As he got older, he started hanging out more and more with his cousins Robert Diggs and Gary Grice; they all shared a taste for rap music and kung-fu movies. Diggs, later to be known as the RZA, Grice, later the GZA, and Jones formed Force Of The Imperial Master, which subsequently became known as the All in Together Now Crew after they had a successful underground single of that name.
The cousins soon added six more friends and associates to the Clan, and released their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993 (1993 in music). 36 Chambers received enormous critical praise, and is now widely regarded as one of the best and most influential albums of any genre to be released in the 1990s, as well as one of the best hip hop albums of all time.
While most of the group's members received individual praise from critics and fans, Jones became perhaps the best-known member of the group. Armed with a seemingly crazed, slurred, often off-beat, half-sung half-rapped delivery, bizarre lyrics and humorous antics that were unlike anything ever heard before in rap, he seemed to encapsulate and personify the raw, unadulterated and innovative style of the group.
Ol' Dirty Bastard takes his name from the 1980 film by Meng-Hwa Ho called An Old Kung Fu Master, known also as Mad Mad Kung Fu and Ol' Dirty & The Bastard. The movie features Yuen Siu Tien aka Simon Yuen who can also be found in other classics such as Drunken Master. Yuen Siu Tien often played a character of an old drunkard who had mastered the martial art of Drunken Boxing.
ODB's solo career began in 1995, the second member of the Wu-Tang Clan to release a solo album, following Method Man's 1994 effort, Tical. Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, released on March 28, 1995, spawned the hit singles Brooklyn Zoo and Shimmy Shimmy Ya, and powered the album to gold status. The album's sound was as raw and gritty as 36 Chambers, producer RZA creating beats even more minimalist and stripped-down than on the group's debut.
That same year, he was featured on the remix of Mariah Carey's "Fantasy". What might have seemed like an unlikely pairing spawned a major hit song. "Fantasy" was among the first popular pop, R&B, and hip hop collaborations.
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 while 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, ODB appeared on the Wu-Tang Clan's second and most commercially successful album, Wu-Tang Forever. However, Jones appeared less often on the Clan's sophomore than on the debut; he contributed a solo track titled "Dog Shit" as well as hooks ("As High As Wu-Tang Get") and spoken introductions ("Triumph"), but other than these appearances and featuring prominently on the songs "Maria" and "Reunited," as well as delivering a very short verse on "Heaterz", he was absent.
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 second and third 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 onstage unexpectedly during Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech for "Song of the Year" at the Grammy Awards, and began complaining that he had recently purchased expensive clothes in anticipation of winning the "Best Rap Album" award that he lost to Puff Daddy. Before being escorted off-stage, he implored the audience, "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. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best. I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all. Peace!" (He evidently was confused between Shawn Colvin and Sean Combs, Puff Daddy's real name). His bizarre onstage antics were widely reported in the mainstream media.
In April 1998, he announced his new stage name, Big Baby Jesus (the first of many alternate stage names; see the list below), but was never able to give a coherent explanation for the very brief switch.
In 1999, he found time to release Nigga Please between jail sentences, which received much success and was even more bizarrely warped than his debut. This release included the single "Got Your Money" which became extremely successful in the US and elsewhere; it was produced by The Neptunes, and its success would serve as one of the production group's main stepping stones to the superstardom they would later achieve. As well as the Neptunes, the single also put singer Kelis, who sang the chorus, on the map; she went on to have a successful solo career.
In 2001, with Jones again in jail for crack cocaine possession, his record company Elektra Records made the decision to release a greatest hits album (despite there being only two albums in ODB's back catalogue) in order to both end their contract with the unreliable, troubled artist 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, comprised of tracks put together without Jones's input, using the vocals he had recorded prior to his capture by authorities. The label recruited many guests including several Wu-Tang Clan affiliates, No Limit Records artist C-Murder, and the Insane Clown Posse. However, the album was critically panned and sales were poor.
The year 2003 brought a change in the life of Ol' Dirty Bastard however. 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, and began a new chapter in his life. Living at his mother's home under house arrest and with a court-ordered probation hanging over his head, he managed to star in a VH1 reality television series. He also managed to record a new album, scheduled to be released in 2006 through Dame Dash Music Group.
He had stated that he also planned on collaborating with artists in the electronic music genre, such as Carnage and The Fiasco, Fischerspooner, and possibly even Massive Attack.
In 1993, ODB 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 thirteen 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 a cousin's house in Brooklyn, he was arrested for shoplifting a pair of $50 shoes in Virginia Beach, Virginia, although he was carrying close to $500 at the time. He was issued bench warrants by the Virginia Beach Sheriffs 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 routine 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, ODB 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 "ODB couldn'tve possibly committed all those crimes. Coolio did some of that shit."
ODB entered rehab while still technically a fugitive from the law, but strange 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 hooked up with the RZA and managed to log some time in the recording studio. He then appeared onstage swigging a bottle at a record release party for The W, a Wu-Tang Clan album. He was later arrested in a Philadelphia McDonald's parking lot while signing autographs, and extradited to New York City. A Manhattan court sentenced him to two to four years incarceration. Mental problems resulted in a suicide attempt not long after his sentencing.
In May 2003, Russell Jones was released from prison. It was said that long time friend, Mariah Carey, picked him up after his release.
At first, his legal troubles and odd behavior made Jones "something of a folk hero", according to The New Yorker writer Michael Agger. However, Huey writes that "it was difficult for observers to tell whether ODB's wildly erratic behavior was the result of serious drug problems or genuine mental instability ... the possibility that his continued antics were at least partly the result of conscious image-making disappeared as time wore on."
Russell Jones collapsed at approximately 5:29 p.m. on November 13, 2004 at Wu-Tang's recording studio (36 Records LLC on West 34th Street in New York City). He was pronounced dead less than an hour later. He was buried at Brooklyn's Christian Cultural Center.
A statement was released on Saturday (November 13, 2004) evening by his mother Cherry Jones:
"This evening, I received a phone call that is every mother's worst dream," she said. "My son, Russell Jones, passed away. To the public, he was known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, but to me, he was known as Rusty, the kindest, most generous soul on earth. I appreciate all the support and prayers that I have received. Russell was more than a rapper, he was a loving father, brother, uncle, and most of all, son."
A statement was also released by Damon Dash, who signed ODB to Roc-A-Fella Records in the fall of 2004:
"All of us in the Roc-A-Fella family are shocked and saddened by the sudden and tragic death of our brother and friend. Russell inspired all of us with his spirit, wit and tremendous heart. He will be missed dearly, and our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go out to his wonderful family. The world has lost a great talent, but we mourn the loss of our friend."
The cause of death remained unknown until December 15, 2004; although he reportedly complained of chest pains prior to collapsing, a heart attack was not listed as the cause of death. During the initial autopsy of the 35-year-old rapper, a doubled plastic bag containing cocaine was discovered in his stomach. Final results from an autopsy show he had a lethal mixture of the prescription painkiller Tramadol and high amounts of cocaine in his system at the time of his death, which was ruled an accidental overdose by the New York Medical Examiner's Office.
Don't U Know
Ol' Dirty Bastard Lyrics
Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴ Interesting Facts ↴
Cute? What? That dirty motherfucker?
Ain't no buggin', he's some ugly motherfucker
You buggin', no, look at his disposition, shorty gott a stride!
What stride? Bummy motherfucker, he ain't shit
See, that's my flavor, rough neck you don't know nothin' about that
You got mad sour flavor on shorty, 'cause that ain't shit at all
Look at what? Dirty motherfucker, he ain't shit
Hahaha, you don't see what I see, B
I don't see nothing, you ain't black, sisso
True, true, just look at him, just look at his disposition!
Approach the school nine thirty, you're late
This time happy the solution was my date
Get in your class, walk to your chair
Pop is all you see and then occasionally stare
At the teacher, more, tune in to we're clocking ya
Lean back at this girl kept clockin' ya hood
Simulated from a sensimilia blonde
Tell the young girl "Baby, you're the one I want"
She doesn't respond, pretends to ignore
So you say to yourself, it be her old and sore mentally
Pitchin' lies, the aim on the board as hot and wild pussy
You cannot afford this
Ooh, what slim and trim was my inner friend
Dear, quietly I want him to knock my boots
To rap out loose in my class
But I kept sayin' the size of my dick and that ass
So I turned around to arrange a date
Swinging episode, baby number one's gotta say it
She popped a gum, cold twist to come
I said "Baby, how you feel?"
She said "Sure"
Then I said "sure", I just found my thrill
Wear it in the classroom, know I'm Blueberry Hill
'Cause what I said just bottled her hate
She put her face on the chest, this is what the bitch said
"Because of you I ain't hurting, but then my within my heart
'Cause no, I'm not right to be flirtin', but our relationship has to start
You're the one that I'm clocking, stop or you could stop mockin'
Don't want you to see me cry, this is why, this is why, this is why!"
I met a girl named Chandra, from way down yonder
The apple of my eye had a Snapple and some fries
Forgot the ketchup, that's when I pressed up
"I've been watching you mowing your lawn"
The thoughts were flowin', while I'm holding the palm
"Hey what's that on your menu?", From there we continued
And talk about this and that we chit and chat
Sipped on the Coke then I stroked the back
As she giggled and I wiggled to the bra
She said "nah!", That's when I noticed her pah
Big Tank, who did nothing but the spank
At parties, drink Bacardi and didn't think
Just act silly, with his brother Willy
Another hillbilly gettin' ill with the Philly
And moonshine, but it's a new time of day
On the stoop doing the Patty Duke
Ok, it's like that old flip flaps through the shower caps
The platform shoes to Apple Jacks
Yo, you niggas, niggas be actin like
They be lovin' them, them them fancy bitches
I, I likes me a nasty bitch
Bitch that's willing to do anything at any given time
Bitch gotta be nasty 'cause I'm a nasty nigga
I do anything baby, I wouldn't give a fuck what it was
I'll, ah, anything, I'm a nasty motherfucker girl
I'm just sittin' right, in my class at a quarter to ten right?
Waiting patiently for the class to begin right?
Teacher says "open up your texts, you! Read the first paragraph on
I said "Oral sex, Wwat kind of class is this?!"
The girl next to me said "what's wrong with you miss?
This is a lesson that makes you feel fine, kinda ease your nerves and relax your mind!"
I said "Don't try to use no hypnotic spell!"
She said "Be my assistant, I'd sure rather tell!"
My knees buckled heart started to drop
My dick grew to a size that my nerve couldn't stop
I tried to run! She yelled out "freeze!"
Pulled down my draws, dropped to her knees
Ripped of my draws as if she had claws
Broke the rules that defined sex laws
She responded quick, with a slick, welcoming kiss and a ice cream lick
Ooh I begged, I begged, "easy on my balls, they're fragile as eggs"
Part 2 coming up
The lyrics of Ol' Dirty Bastard's song "Don't U Know" delve into a range of subjects, including sexual desires, social hierarchies, and personal perceptions. The first verse involves a conversation between two friends, where one argues that the other is blind to the attractiveness of a dirty-looking man. The second verse follows a teenage boy's inner monologue in a classroom, where he contemplates his sexuality and tries to impress girls. The third and final verse switches to a more explicit description of a sexual encounter with a woman who takes advantage of him as he initially resists.
The song highlights the idea of individual preference and how it can be shaped by societal norms and expectations. The first verse shows how the one person's perception of attractiveness is challenged because of the dirty appearance of a man. It also touches upon the theme of social hierarchies where the person with the sour taste in their mouth is shown to be prejudiced against rougher-looking individuals. Additionally, the second verse features an adolescent's attempt at self-discovery and acceptance through his sexual desires. He tries to change his image to impress the girl and deals with anxiety about his masculinity, hinting at traditional gender roles.
Furthermore, the lyrics of "Don't U Know" illustrate the vulnerability and power imbalance that can come with sexual encounters. In the third verse, the boy is taken advantage of by a woman who disregards his wishes and breaks social norms regarding consent. Their interaction is portrayed as non-consensual, with the woman holding power over the boy. This illustrates the toxicity and danger of dominant patriarchal ideas, highlighting the importance of mutual consent and respect.
Note: This section uses generative AI, which can be inaccurate.
1. This song was released in 1995 as part of Ol' Dirty Bastard's debut album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version.
2. The album was a commercial success, peaking at number seven on the Billboard 200 and eventually going platinum.
3. Ol' Dirty Bastard was a member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, and this was his first solo album.
4. The album features collaborations with other Wu-Tang Clan members and notable artists such as Kelis and Busta Rhymes.
5. The album faced controversy due to the explicit nature of its lyrics and the frequent use of profanity, leading to it being banned in some countries.
6. Ol' Dirty Bastard was known for his eccentric behavior and legal troubles, which included arrests for assault, drug possession, and parole violation.
7. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 35 due to a drug overdose.
8. The song was sampled in several other songs over the years, such as Kanye West's "Gone" and Beyonce's "Freedom."
9. The beat for the song was produced by Wu-Tang Clan member RZA.
10. The music video for the song features Ol' Dirty Bastard in various eccentric outfits, including a cowboy hat and boots, and features cameos from members of Wu-Tang Clan.
Chords: Unfortunately, the chords for this song are not readily available as it is a hip-hop track without any noticeable guitar or other instrument chords being played.
Lyrics © DistroKid, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: Russell Jones, Robert F. Diggs
Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind