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A Right Bastard; Beatle Lennon

Ol‘ Dirty Bastard, rapper with the posse to beat Wu Tang Clan, is pushing the product. Wu Tan Clan have just released “Forever” and they are closing out Hot 97’s Summer Jam circa 1997 and ODB isn’t having it. “Why are we here?” he ask. “Hot 97 never play us. All they play is pop.” And then for twney minutes at Continental Arena in New Jersey he disses the radio station for portraying hip hop.


ODB wasn’t the leader of Wu Tang -that would be RZA. Nor was he the best rapper (Ghostface Killah holds the honor) but he was the heart and soul of the greatest posse in hip hops greatest decade. And he turned it with a humour veering into serious derangement and a voice with a timbre that’s all rasp and aggression.

And ODB was crazy. How crazy? With a warrant for his arrest pending he showed up on stage at a Wu Tang gig. How crazy? He put his still active food stamps ID on the cover of his first solo album “Return Of the 36 Chambers”. How how how crazy? He told the Judge at his trial she was cute and asked her out on a date… You can’t make up a guy like ODB. He was the real thing.

Russel Jones (ODB’s real name) was all over “Enter the Wu” before releasing “Return”.. a vicious, sexy ode to fighting, fucking and getting fucked up. Really good stuff and for some reason it came across as kinda sweet… The other solo album released before his OD was “N—- Please,” a truly fun album and another big big hit and another must hit.

“The Trails and Tribulations…” released after his death was OK but “Osirius” from 2004 was better and featuring the penultimate great ODB song, “Higher Ground”.

Penultimate? Yes. Mark Ronson’s remix of “Toxic” from “Version” features an awesome ODB sample (“oooh baby i’m burning up”) and a fine farewell. By they way, ODB left some 16 children so perhaps we’ll get lucky and find the rasp has not left us forever.

Why write about ODB? I was working on the Lennon overview and started thinking about rock stars who died before their time.

Speaking of John. He once said that his first important Beatles song was Help.” This was nonsense. Lennon, the violent, extreme, jealous guy” is all over his early work. The Lennon I’ll be writing about son is father to the paranoid buy abandoned by both his mother and his father. This isn’t second hand Freud. “If I fell,” “Every Little Thing,” “You Can’t Do That”… all early Lennon (all pre-“Help” by years), all very revealing songs of jealousy and rejection.

The thing is, and we’ll explore this further at a later date, Lennon’s genius was in the lack of distance between Lennon the private, Lennon the political and Lennon the public. He couldn’t hide from himself, he never really could hide his love away.

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