Thursday, 1 May 2003

Album Review: The Dirty Story

Russell Jones’ story is certainly the most rock and roll of any living artist. He was always slightly crazed, but in 1999 Jones’ managed to evade the FBI for several weeks (including jumping onstage during a Wu Tang Clan concert and performing a few verses before escaping back into the audience) before getting caught outside a McDonalds because he thought that they were autograph hunters. His work has always divided opinion, even some hardcore Wu Tang fans remain unsure of his blathering ways. He is the most entertaining living solo artist as far as I’m concerned. It is always hard to pin down the best work of someone as wildly creative as ODB, but the eleven tracks here are among his best.

Shimmy Shimmy Ya remains ODB’s piece de resistance, but Brooklyn Zoo isn’t far behind. Fittingly it is these two songs which begin the collection. Both have ODB at his incoherent best. On Shimmy Shimmy Ya he drawls, “Oh baby I like it raw” over a funky piano sample and pounding bassline. Brooklyn Zoo is ODB’s most vitriolic mission statement so far as he declares himself, “the one man army.” Following these two tracks comes Dirty’s most commercially successful track so far, Got Your Money. There’s not a lot more that can be said about the track that put Kelis and The Neptunes on the map and gave ODB the fame he richly deserves.

The first three tracks are the most commercial on the album (the Fantasy remix excepted), what follows is probably a more realistic summary of Dirty’s work. On each of the eleven tracks Dirty rambles at some point, but it is Dirty Dancin where he meanders the most. The lyrics which are barely audible go something like, “mza mza, my name is the old dirty bas / my game is to kick you’re ass / dnuh dnuh dnuh dnuh.” ODBs blathering means that Method Man is relied upon to carry the traditional hip hop part of the track. The production by the Rza is a little bland, but the track remains one of Dirty’s most entertaining. Elsewhere Recognise and I Can’t Wait have Dirty at his most bizarre, especially the latter where Dirty offers a shout-out to munchkins, Eskimos, submarines and himself.

The only slightly out of place track is the remix of Mariah Carey’s Fantasy. While the original song was the usual trite that Carey pumps out, ODB does deliver a suitably bizarre couplet, “me and Mariah go back like babies and pacifiers.” The Puff Daddy production is better than one might assume, but it is ODB who brings the track hurtling out of mediocrity.

In between the tracks the listener is treated to some insight into ODB. The standout moment is when Dirty lists his favourite artists. At the beginning of Cold Blooded he proclaims that, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye are good, Otis Redding is like one of the best but Rick James is something out of the ordinary.

The music on offer here is amazing, however, it is hard not to be cynical about an artist releasing a greatest hits collection after only releasing two studio albums. Also, the album is a little short. A collection weighing in with eleven tracks at just over forty minutes is not enough to do ODB justice. Anyone wishing to hear ODB should use this collection as a starting point, but fans will probably already own everything on offer here.

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