Looking back at those years, it’s easy to see how Dirty Ol’ Bastard’s self-destructive tendencies were enabled by his environment and image, and everyone believed that this was just Dirty being Dirty, continuing to work at the cost of his kind genius, and the world laughed at his rap group.
“He was a calamity waiting to happen, a kind of beauty that happens rarely. You don’t often come across a character like that. His dysfunction was a captivating aspect to some extent. His dysfunction was the attraction of ODB’s troubled personal life. I signed him to Dante&R Records Elektra in 2002, partly because of the reasons Ross Dante said.”
Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, Jones Russell, also known as ODB, made efforts to revive his music career. Unfortunately, his albums in 2002, including “Tribulations and Trials” and “Greatest Hits,” were poorly received due to their low quality. These projects were seen as mere fillers and stopgaps while he was serving his prison sentence at the Elektra Records label. However, in the same year, his album “Please Nigga” managed to achieve gold status, thanks to the success of the single “Got Your Money” released in 1999. Despite his diminishing presence in Wu-Tang Clan albums, ODB still managed to deliver strong music throughout his career.
The entire farce of his ordeal was captured via VH1’s reality show cameras, as Mariah Carey, the pop megastar, promised a new album. As he left the facility, cameras were pointing in his face, ready to pick him up and capture the entire circus-like media frenzy. The beleaguered rapper, Dirt McGirt, was ready to sign with Dame Dash’s Roc-A-Fella Records label. Suddenly rechristened ODB, he emerged from prison low-key and frazzled. Russell Jones significantly affected by his incarceration, emerged from prison drastically changed. By the time of his release in 2003, the musical landscape had undergone significant changes.
Dirty expressed his contentment with being present, stating, “yes, yes, yes… I never expected to handle any more microphones… I am eagerly anticipating a future with Roc-A-Fella.”
What was the cause of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s death?
However, in retrospect, everyone appeared to recognize how exploitative and detrimental the entire situation was for Jones.
With a camera tracking his movements, there were items present in that place that none of us had ever witnessed on film due to the fact that it was challenging for me to observe. When he emerged from the system, they simply decided to relocate him. Even a precious gem like a diamond, upon extraction from the earth, is initially an unremarkable stone that requires polishing, cleaning, and precise cutting. “No, they never accorded him the proper treatment as he should have received,” RZA would express years later regarding ODB’s tenure with Roc-A-Fella. Witnessing my brother was a source of delight.
He was shy for two days on his 36th birthday. His official cause of death was a heart attack via overdose of Tramadol, painkillers, and cocaine. He complained of chest pains before the session. But he died and collapsed in the Dirty Ol’ Bastard recording studio in Manhattan in November 2004. After collaborating with everyone from Insane Clown Posse to B. Jon, he spent the next few months working on the album.
We were just too busy laughing to pay attention. Maybe we were filled with red flags, but life in Dirty Ol’ Bastard’s was just too chaotic. We have to reckon with our self-destructive appetite, but it doesn’t have any effect on us like dysfunction does. We ingest dysfunction and it doesn’t show any reality. It’s been nearly 20 years now and we still watch dysfunction play out across social media and in celebrities’ lives. It seems like we haven’t learned much in the wake of Dirty Ol’ Bastard’s destruction.