“Imagine how I felt, opening the email, pressing play and being the first person to hear this new ODB music; It was surreal”
– Mustafa Shaikh, Boombotix
Russell Jones, also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, was and wasn’t a lot of things. He wasn’t the most prolific writer. It has long been known that much of his break-out debut album had been written a few years earlier by both Method Man and GZA, but who cares. ODB wasn’t a Drake-esque figure. Nobody loved Dirty for what he said per say, but rather how he said it. In a see of urban figures that seemed to blend, A-son was an unmistakable and unforgettable character. He was charismatic (which is an understatement) and seemingly untameable. ODB was cut from a cloth that many rappers have tried and failed to imitate.
From crashing the Grammy’s after losing out to Puffy, indecent exposure, or cinematic time on the lamb when he unexpectedly turned up at a Wu-Tang concert, he clearly did not give too many fucks. And classic footage of him walking barefoot in Brooklyn and collecting food stamps with his family in a limo is also quite revealing of his mindstate in the mid-nineties. A more telling side, though, was seen when Dirty wasn’t, pardon my French, fucked up. Breaks in character, such as his classic unearthed interview below, reveal a man who loved his many children so much he damn near tears up while talking about them. His super downplayed MTV doc shortly before his death showed how much he loved and valued his family. It also revealed his insecurities about being in jail. Essentially, he was just a man – under all the bravado and antics.
His legacy continues to live on, in part because his fans, family, and his Wu-Tang brethren keep it alive. Most recently, RZA and the wireless speaker company Boombotix have released a limited edition speaker, which contains a brand new unreleased ODB joint called Obey Me. RZA officially signed on with the San Francisco-based startup last year, giving him an equity stake in the company and a hand in developing its line of rugged wireless speakers. They originally connected through one of the speaker brand’s investors, and RZA and Boombotix’s VP of Marketing, Mustafa Shaikh, conceptualized and released a limited edition Wu-Tang speaker with an unreleased Wu track at the top of the year – which understandably sold out in minutes.
This latest release came about when RZA mentioned to Mustafa that he may have some unreleased Dirty material laying around the basement on the Wu-Mansion. Just imagine having that conversation with RZA. Well, after a month of following-up, the Abbot went into the basement and unearthed some never-before-heard bars and sent them to Mustafa. “Imagine how I felt, opening the email, pressing play and being the first person to hear this new ODB music; It was surreal,” remarked Mustafa.
Mustafa tapped his friends at Fool’s Gold Records, and had Montreal-based producers Shash’u, and High Classified produce remixes to help package the new single, Obey Me, like an EP. “We’re acting almost like a record label,” remarked Mustafa. Truly, it’s the most innovative way to sell a speaker ever! He and his team have accentuated the release by holding an ODB week, which was marked by the release of the single, a video treatment and a super cool app that allows you to make your ODB food stamp card and share it online. The week is coming to a head with a party in NYC, which will feature good music, good people, and live art – which will depict ODB at various ages in front of birthday cakes.
ODB, always claim there was no father to his style. It’s well put, especially as we have a hard time finding a character who came pre-dated him that even comes close to acting as an influence. He’ll never be forgotten as long as real hip-hop still lives. This new single is just another notch on his legacy’s belt. It remains to be seen whether they will celebrate ODB week annually, but Mustafa notes that they do plan on releasing new music and collaborative projects in the future.
Rest in peace Ol’ Dirty [*DJ Premier Voice]
Couldn’t resist, made my own ODB food stamp card!