Ol’ Dirty Bastard
The Definitive Ol’ Dirty Bastard Story
s the debate rages onward as to whether it is more difficult to fully summarize Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s legacy solely with words or through music, what lies here is an awkward synthesis of the two—a review of the newly released posthumous greatest hits collection, The Definitive Ol’ Dirty Bastard Story.
Upon stumbling across this collection in a CD store, one surely must notice two things: first, it’s been compiled by Rhino, the most trusted archivists of modern popular music ever, and second, the album unabashedly labels itself as “Definitive.”
Now, “definitive” is a big, heavy word, especially when applied to ODB, who Wu abbot RZA plainly asserts could never be replicated; there truly was no father to his style. We could argue about whether or not ODB can realistically be “defined” over a single medium for days, so the title will be taken at face value, but the question remains. Is this collection definitive?
Sadly, the answer is no, but Rhino does succeed in forever snuffing out its main target, 2001’s The Dirty Story, a complete sham of a greatest hits record. Definitive’s tracklist effectively covers ODB’s solo career, featuring four songs from Return to the 36 Chambers and a whopping eight off of Nigga Please, which only has twelve songs to begin with.
The songs from Return to the 36 Chambers demonstrate just how unstoppable RZA was around the time of its release (1995), as the beats work perfectly with Dirty’s stuttering, singsong flow. Usually a fractured piano line helped ODB along immensely, and the trick rarely grew stale.
And while Nigga Please is ODB’s best album and deserves to be well-represented here, you label execs out there who compile these greatest hits records should never give reviewers reason to recommend that readers just go out and buy any of said artist’s individual albums instead of purchasing the collection at hand, which the inclusion of eight tracks from Nigga Please nearly demands.
Other key selections are the excellent b-side “Give It To Ya Raw,” the hit single “Ghetto Superstar” featuring Pras and Mya, and the remix of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy,” which is humorous in that her collaboration with ODB was probably the penny on the rail that sent her massive freight train of a career straight off the charts and right into therapy.
But back to the issue of definitiveness. As far as solo songs go, this collection is perfectly adequate. It has Dirty’s most well-known songs, as well as album tracks like “Rollin Wit’ You” and “All In Together Now” that come as close to capturing Dirty’s essence as any four minute recording could ever aspire to do. But if you’re going to title this thing The Definitive Ol’ Dirty Bastard Story and include exactly zero of his epochal Wu-Tang moments that were essential in making the Clan memorable to mainstream audiences, then you’re asking for listeners to start scratching their heads. The content here is largely impeccable, but where’s “Shame On a Nigga”? Where’s “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’”? And above all, where’s “Dog Shit”?
Reviewed by: Ross McGowan
Reviewed on: 2005-06-30