The memories have faded like an old photograph, but I can still see bits and pieces. My brother playing “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” for me, rifling through his CDs and always stopping to stare at Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. There's just something special about ODB, a magnetic, once in a lifetime artist. One of the wildest, eccentric and unapologetically raw artists I’ve ever encountered, the Wu-Tang Clan emcee made the type of music that has continued to hit hard long after his passing.
Big Baby Jesus was the physical embodiment of his music, which ultimately led to some amazing stories. ODB pissing on plaques, ODB doing thousands of push-ups on dust, ODB ripping the mic away from Biggie and of course the limo. In his heart of hearts Ol Dirty Bastard never once gave a single fuck and, with any sugarcoating, the drugs he abused had a lot to do with it. What made him the legend that we love is also what led to his demise. That's the thing about a double edge sword; the other edge cuts just as deep.
Just listen to ODB’s son tell a chilling story about his father on the day he died.
Drug use and addiction are romanticized in hip-hop. It's cool to be fucked up all night or "gone off that molly," but the reality is never as good as the fantasy we're addicted to. ODB forced his son to watch him do the drugs that would ultimately kill him and his son's life was forever changed by that fateful night. Though I would never put words in his mouth, I'd have to imagine seeing your father do drugs on the night he overdosed is something that sticks with you forever.
We should continue to celebrate Dirt as one of the most unique, and iconic figures in hip-hop's history, but we should also let this serve as a reminder of the cost at which that title came.
Nothing goes more against what ODB represented than presenting a clean, altered version of who he was. He said it himself, he liked it raw. So that's how we have to keep it.