Monday, November 15, 2004

Russell Jones painting courtesy of Colin


I was deeply and genuinely saddened to hear the news that Dirt Dog is with us no more. Long time readers of the Tofu Hut may remember that we have often professed a real love for the ODB. Maybe it's time I explained a bit more.

"All I wanna be is free with mad fuckin' money man. You'll never be free fuckin' with these white boys."

Ol' Dirty was an impossible blend of Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, and Sam Cooke. He was childishly, abstractly obscene; an oblique and apocalyptic lyricist ("I don't have no trouble with you fucking me, but I have a little problem with you not fucking me" remains about as clear an evocation of punk as we're likely to see for the next few decades); a grimy street Marvin Gaye without modesty or shame. He was either an outsider artist, a soul singer, a hardcore rapper, a pure rock+roll ball of fire, a pop shadow doppelganger, an adolescent novelty, all of the above or quite possibly none.

"I reign on your college ass disco dorm"

ODB was a super guest to have on any track (the man MAKES "Ghetto Superstar" and "Fantasy"); he broke Kelis onto the scene with "Got ya Money"; he was forever misunderstood as comic relief. He was a canary in a cultural coal mine screaming for help and we filmed him for a reality show. He was treated as an amusing freak rather than as a troubled man. He may well have died for our sins.

"I keep my breath smellin like shit so I can get FUNKY; but baby I'm not havin it."

It would perhaps not be strange to make some comparisons between ODB and Wesley Willis; both were clearly disturbed artists on the fringe who were taken too soon. Sadly, where Willis seemed to have found some solace in his music, ODB's artistic expressions were less therapeutic and more an echo from a dark place. Sure, Dirty's music was often very funny but there was almost always a black edge to that humour. When ODB talked about going crazy, popping shots at the cops or fathering a passel of little bastards; there was no poetic license being employed. Motherfucker was LIVING a life with ten flavors of hell and his voice and songs reflected that.

"I came out my momma's pussy, I'm on welfare; twenty-six years old: STILL on welfare!"

In what seemed at least partially an attempt to remake himself from scratch, ODB would literally rename himself at the drop of a hat; he assumed the moniker 'Big Baby Jesus' in THE MIDDLE OF AN INTERVIEW as a pisstake.

"What's my name? SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

From any other artist, this kind of grandstanding would smack of PR. Not with Dirty; his interest in commercial acceptance could be summed up simply: Nigga Please. Dirty didn't need to "stay real". If anything, he desperately needed to be LESS real.

"All music must obey me. All pain must obey me."

What kind of a man ODB was in person is as meaningless as what kind of a man Beethoven or Elvis was. He was clearly a shitty father. My argument is that he was undeniably an powerful and genuine ARTIST, not just some sillyass sideshow. He was not a clown; he was a MAN, albeit a broken one. His choices as a musician were not random or unconsidered; he had genuine skills as a performer. Respect is due.

"Everything is so fine and so SPLENDID girl!"

An ODB song had the possibility of changing what you could bear; he pushed the limits every time. The man's _life_ was a work of dark, bloody and painful art; he was a sonic ghetto Bacon.

"I ain't got nothin' for nobody to hijack. What they gon' take? My beeper?"

All this don't mean a damn thing if you don't hear it, if you don't feel it.

So here is some music. Approach with an open mind.

Russell Jones would've been thirty-six today.

Ol' Dirty Bastard - "Rollin' Wit' You"
"Rollin'" is from the astonishing "Nigga Please" album, available from Amazon.
AllHipHop.com breaks the news.
The mp3blog community stands up for Russell: Cocaine Blunts, futurism ain't shit, government names, we eat so many shrimp, emptyfree, Music 4 Robots and You Don't Have to Entertain Me all offer condolences and music.
I also strongly recommend stopping by Honey Soul for something special; they're running a radio blog playlist of ODB tracks, almost everyone a kickin' classic.
Read the NYT review of ODB's infamous "I can't stay on stage too long tonight; the cops is after me" show.
Ol' Dirty Bastard - "Dirty the Moocher"
ODB saves child from burning car
The UK Telegraph obit.
Inexplicably, as of this writing, the Times has nothing up.
In an eerie coincidence, the server for the Wu's official website, Wu-Tang Corp., CRASHED the night ODB died.
Busta Rhymes and Ol' Dirty Bastard - "Woo Hah! Got You All In Check! (The Worldwide Remix)"
Top 10 ODB Moments
"He announced in early 2004 that he was running for president; when questioned by a reporter as to why, an incredulous Dirty cut through all the usual rhetoric, responding 'To get pussy!'"
Sound familiar?
Pour out a little likka
'ODB' to host Dove Awards
"Please calm down. 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. Wu-Tang is the best. I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all. Peace."


Perennial Tofu Hut fave Devin tha' Dude is the subject of a new interview over at Prefix Magazine. Read it here.
Joe Seigenthaler's online gallery was down as of the writing of this post; hopefully it'll be up by the time you click.
Brilliant ultrarealistic phantasmagoric sculpture.
Keith at Teaching the Indie Kids spoke awful eloquently about post Nov2nd US life; if you missed it when it dropped, stop by and peep some wisdom.
If it walks like a duck...
Not the end.
Christmas comes early: Paul Adams and David Hoffman offer Madhouse-style holiday cheer.
Is this a revised blog and musicblogroll I see before me, the handle toward my hand?
Methinks it is. Click away, ya'll.
I've been getting a lot of emails from people asking what I would recommend they do about hosting if they start their own musicblog so here's my suggestion FWIW:
Racknine offers plans for between 15 and 50 gigs of DLable bandwidth.
For the beginner, I'd recommend their "General" hosting; it's only NINE DOLLARS a month and allows for 15 gigs of bandwidth, more than enough to get you started and see if you're in the market to do this for the long run.
You can always upgrade if you find you need more.
Racknine's technical support has been nothing but helpful and accomodating to me and they've proven to be reliable and easy to use.
Nine dollars in NYC is a sandwich. If you have ANY interest at all, consider setting aside a little bit of cash and giving it a go.

Best of luck and let me know when you're online!