Ol' Dirty Bastard

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Created on: 2 Mar 2007
Official ODB Group

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. [citation needed]

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.

Ol' Dirty Bastard appears in the video for "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" on Black Entertainment Television

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 2007 through Dame Dash Music Group.

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