“Young I started, but I had a talent
To get this crack cooked, cause I took it as a challenge
So older niggaz gave me much as I can handle
Copped the Eagle, started jackin with the green New Balance shit I’m feelin clean, I was only thirteen
With the heavy starch, on my Bugle Boy Jeans
My name spelled out on my four finger ring
It was Dirt then, cause McGirt you ain’t seen”
Russell Jones remained a mystery to the rap world from his debut with the Wu-Tang Clan over a decade ago until his dying day last year. Let’s start with the name changes: Ol’ Dirty, Unique Ason, Dirt Dawg, Osirus, Big Baby Jesus, and Dirt McGirt just to name a few. Then there’s ODB’s eclectic style itself, which could switch from some of the best science dropped on wax to some of the worst singing you ever heard at the drop of a hat. He battled drug addiction and alcohol problems throughout his entire career, but hip-hop fans had to admit some of his most entertaining tracks were clearly recorded while he was stoned out of his mind. Ol’ Dirty also had a natural talent to be a larger than life superstar. Some people can write great rhymes, drop great albums at retail, and still never achieve even a moderate level of success. ODB skyrocketed beyond moderate success right into pop culture icon status, as he proved to be as entertaining in public as on his records. Few people will ever forget seeing him take a limo to pick up a welfare check, or his rant at the Grammy awards about his expensive tuxedo and how Wu-Tang Clan got shafted cause they were “for the children” and not fluff rap. Crazy or not, the man had a point.
“You know why niggaz don’t give you much respect?
Cause they seen you gettin slapped with the empty gat
Know Dirt, like Bo know bats
When I’m huntin down, birds in rap
Hate Dawg, cause I ate your cat
And you can eat my ass and have a Coke with thaaaat
Use a spoon, unless you want a fork
Pull my dick out, watch the room get dark
Stay high with the zombie walk
Gotta sit my ass down, like Rosa Parks”
Listening to “Osirus,” a release which has been subtitled “The Official Mixtape” despite for all intents and purposes being a full ODB album, is a very sobering experience. One gets the feeling it must have been one for Russell Jones too, because he achieves a lyrical sharpness and verbal clarity not heard since his classic “Return to the 36 Chambers.” Branching out from a strictly Wu-Tang style production, Ol’ Dirty’s posthumous release shows just how much potential the new “Dirt McGirt” would have had, with or without the help of Roc-A-Fella Records – and it’s interesting to note they are not in any way credited for putting out this record despite Dirt shouting them out several times. You certainly won’t find Just Blaze or Kanye West on the boards here. Instead you get some of the best names the underground can offer as on the two selections quoted here – DJ Premier on “Pop Shots” and Marc Ronson on the “Dirty Dirty” track that follows, both here and on the album.
Dope songs keep coming throughout “Osirus.” K-Def has one of the album’s best headnodders on “Who Can Make it Happen Like Dirt?” and does an equally fine job on the demented “High in the Clouds” featuring Black Rob, giving the gruff tandem jazzy pianos and pounding beats. “Dirty Run” has a David Bowie “Fame” backdrop that ‘Ill’ Will Fulton gave a strong hip-hop attitude to. Chops gets positively crunk on “Don’t Stop Ma (Out of Control)” and “Down South” but goes for refreshing minimalism on “If Y’all Want War” featuring Royal Flush. Of course it wouldn’t be an Ol’ Dirty album without a crazy sex track, and K-Def makes sure we get to hear Ol’ Dirty at his raunchiest on “Pussy Keep Calling”:
“Darker is better, cause the dick’s well done
Be a good girl, let you taste what I’m from
Baby, I’m the man, with the frame: well hung
Cause a squirrel, is a squirrel ’til a squirrel get a nut
Get a butt, like an ashtray, point it out, I eat her
Til the 6, been callin’, sayin ‘Nah, I don’t wanna meet her’
In the ass, to some Pendergrass, after smokin grass
Fuck her fast like a rabbit, I’m a sex fiend addict
I’m a sex fiend addict, I’m a sex fiend addict”
When it’s all said and done it’s only appropriate that the album officially ends on “Fuck Y’all” (there are some bonus tracks) with a backing beat that turns it into a 2005 update of KRS-One’s “Criminal Minded.” Ol’ Dirty at times couldn’t seem to help his criminal behavior, but could also at times show the lyrical depth of a KRS-One or Nas even though his drug habits and bizarre style often masked his true gift as a rhymer. It’s just a shame that at a point in his career where he truly seemed prepared to come back to top form, his habits got the better of him. Still as final testament to his crazy life and times, “Osirus” at least allowed the enigmatic MC to finish posthumously on a high note.