ODB : The Dirty Story: The Best Of ODB

Dubiously motivated compilation of the Wu-Tang Man's finest moment...

Is Ol’ Dirty Bastard honourably flattered by this compilation, as he rots on suicide watch during the first months of a four-year prison stretch for drugs offences? Or do you imagine he regards it as some sick joke?

When not in prison, ODB is not only the most original voice in the Wu-Tang Clan, he’s arguably the most original in modern rap. He’s hiphop’s very best guilty pleasure. The “paranoid nigga” whose insanely messy life of supersonic drugs, rampant sex drive, mental collapse and hair-raising hustle is documented in his half-rapped, half-sung, half-slurred boogie. Forget the superstar gangstas. ODB’s two solo albums, 1996’s ‘Return To The 36 Chambers’ and 1999’s ‘Nigga Please’, give the most accurate and aurally satisfying accounts of modern American ghetto life.

However, ODB’s descent into prison was tortuous, even to long-distance observers. The time for support was due long before his sentence and this shoddy, exploitative compilation. Only an artist who’ll be out of commission for a considerable period of time could be worthy of a compilation after two albums. And Dirty won’t be doing any recording for a while (that’s why we must put up with Afroman’s ‘Because I Got High’ in the meantime: ODB’s punchline, but none of the fun, madness, danger or groove).

Still, it’s hard to fault the quality of the work here. Some of his best songs are included (‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’, ‘I Can’t Wait’, all the other tracks) and some of them aren’t (everything left out of the final 11). There are no surprises, other than his dozy spin through Mariah Carey’s bouncy ‘Fantasy’ (Mariah: [I]”Whatcha gonna do when you get outta jail?”[/I] ODB: [I]”I’m going have some fun!”[/I]) and some cool spoken intros, especially his dedication of ‘Cold Blooded’ to fellow fun addict Rick James, where he attempts to compare James to his other favourite singers. He can’t: “these motherfuckers are [I]good[/I]”.

Really, though, you could buy his two albums in the sales for the same price of this compilation and have the whole brilliant picture painted instead of this sketch. ODB is worth far more than a rushed compilation. Ignore this and head for the source. for Elektra, for the songs.

Ted Kessler