Russell Jones, also known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, Osirus, Dirt McGirt and Big Baby Jesus, died Saturday after collapsing in a New York Studio. Jones had complained of chest pains and medics were unable to revive him upon arrival.
Jones would have turned 36 years old on Monday. According to Blender Magazine, Jones fathered 13 children and is also survived by his mother Cherry Jones.
Along with cousins Robert Diggs, aka RZA, and Gary Grice, aka GZA, ODB was a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang consisted of nine members including Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, among others. The group provided some of the most inspirational hip-hop of the '90s.
I had the privilege of seeing ODB perform at the Aggie Theatre on Nov. 10, just days before his death. If you asked me how the show was the day after, I would have told you it was one of the worst concerts I have ever been to. ODB was late to arrive on stage and after he did arrive he went on a rant about how we "didn't know him."
Following his rant, which was given with his back to the audience and seemed to be aimed at a few members of the crowd, he dropped his microphone and left the stage. This continued for about thirty minutes, during which time the crowd became restless and disgruntled and proceeded to rain beer cans and ice on the stage and at ODB.
ODB seemed not to notice the debris being thrown in his direction and continued to come on stage and rant, which was always followed by him leaving the stage. I had no idea what was going on and began to question ODB's sobriety and state of mind.
At one point, ODB fell as he left the stage and complained to the crowd that he had broken his knee. Just when it seemed this show was going nowhere, the Aggie Theatre decided they had seen enough and turned on the lights. It appeared they were going to shut down the "performance." ODB then convinced them to let him continue and he finally began to perform some of his songs.
The crowd's attitude changed instantly as one of his most popular records "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" began and ODB began to perform. The crowd was immediately engrossed in the performance. From what I had seen from Jones to that point, I wondered how long it would last. I wasn't surprised when ODB dropped the microphone again and walked off the stage.
He did return, but I don't recall him getting through one complete song as he continually wandered around the stage. Performing for the crowd seemed to be the furthest thing from his mind. At times he left the venue and went out the backdoor.
It was one of the strangest shows I have ever been to, but I wasn't surprised in the slightest. ODB has been notorious throughout his career for strange behavior and off-the-wall antics. I have always enjoyed them in the past, and as I reflect on the Aggie Performance, I can't help but be glad to have experienced ODB in person.
"Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers," the group's first album, was the first CD I ever purchased. Ol' Dirty provided some of the most memorable lyrics on the album and the raw energy on every record he ever released has resulted in many hardcore fans.
ODB will be remembered not just for his crazy, sometimes heroic antics, but for the influence he has had on hip-hop as a whole.