So, Old Dirty Bastard has been on my mind recently because I've been listening to his "Best of" CD. One can never be sure if ODB is a genius or a fool. Maybe one of Shakespeare's wise fools. His recent arrests and stints in rehab are part of a long series of "misadventures" that have served to enhance his legend as The Wu-Tang Clan's resident chaos factor. His lyrics tend to blur the edge between coherence and violence. He has also penned verses that refer to his Native American ancestry, explicitly linking his "black" words with a "brown" history.
What it might come down to, as with any good rapper, is how he makes the English language move in ways it has never moved before. While the following verses (from "Brooklyn Zoo") might seem mediocre on paper, when he uses them to open the song they are hip hop perfection:
"I'm the one man army, it's on
I never been tooking out
I keep MCs looking out
I drop science like Crosby dropping babies
Enough to make a nigga go crazy
Energy-building, taking all types of medicines
Your ass thought you were better than?
Hey, son, I keep planets in orbit
While I be coming with deeper and more shit
Enough to make you break and shake your ass [...]
Rhyme good as a tasty cake mix
This style I'm mastered in
Niggas catching headaches
What, what, you need aspirin?"