Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Brooklyn Zoo”

I grin like a moron every time I hear this song. Every single goddamn time.

Out of the nine members which form the hip-hop supergroup known as the Wu-Tang Clan, I would have to say that Ol’ Dirty Bastard is my favorite. While not the strongest rapper in the crew by a long shot, he was most certainly the oddest, and by far, the strangest motherfucker hip-hop has ever seen. Along with his cousins the RZA and the GZA, Ol’ Dirty (AKA Dirt McGuirk, Dirt Dog, Ason Unique, Big Baby Jesus, Big Baby Osirius, and a host of other titles) was a founding member of the Clan, whose 1993 debut, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, jump started a renaissance in early ‘90s New York rap, a scene which had been eclipsed in popularity by West Coast gangsta rap. 36 Chambers, with it’s blazed up stream-of-consciousness style influenced by countless kung-fu flicks, introduced the world to a group of rappers from all over the spectrum, such as the very intelligent, highly literate GZA, the business-minded criminal don in Raekwon, the heavily blunted Method Man, the street soldier Ghostface Killah, and so on.

But ODB was the outlier.

Was it the drugs, which he indulged in heavily, or was it a serious mental issue? No matter, Dirty was on some next level shit, and during his career he racked up considerable attention in the public eye for his wild outbursts, odd behavior, and a criminal record that could fill a library. Among other things, he was recorded on MTV taking a limo with his kids to the welfare office to pick up food stamps, interrupting the Grammy Awards by rushing onstage to declare that the Wu should have won an award instead of Puff Daddy (Oh, so THAT’S where Kanye got it from!), getting ensnared in constant drug/weapon busts, and running from the cops for weeks at a time.

It’s unfortunate that his run-ins with the law and eccentricities eclipsed his music. Even more unfortunate is the fact that he didn’t get the proper help he sorely needed, such as rehab and a psych evaluation. ODB’s passing from a drug overdose on November 13, 2004 was a sad day for hip-hop.

Though he released only two solo albums in his lifetime, his music is solid, unpredictable, and endlessly fascinating. Case in point is “Brooklyn Zoo,” from his 1995 debut, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. Simply put, this song is spectacular. Wild, erratic, and bizarre, this one is a perfect introduction to the mind of Ol’ Dirty, who completely tears the fucking house down with a battle rap wherein every damn line is quotable and it hits you like a right deck to the jaw. Along with the awesome lines and drunken delivery the production is top notch, thanks to that organ, thumping bass, and those small whines like mosquitoes buzzing in your ears. It all compliments Dirty’s knockout performance perfectly.

“How, I don’t even like your motherfucking PROFILE, give me my fucking shit–chk-chk-BLOAWWWW!!

Ah, rest in peace, Dirty.

Originally posted on my old blog, Emaciated Wildebeest, on August 2, 2010.

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