Ol' Dirty Bastard talks New York and prison.
Photo of Erik Lavoie and Dirt by Terry Richardson.
Every conversation about Ol’ Dirty Bastard brings up the same five things: the original rah-rah rap style, the twenty-odd babies, the picking up welfare checks in a limo, the drug addictions, and the manic police pursuits. But for the last couple of years, we’ve had nothing else to talk about. He got locked up in 2000 for everything from weed to carrying a gun on parole, and only got out a few months ago under strict supervision. Shit, his parole officer won’t even let him be near any place that sells booze. What the fuck? What’s going to happen to Ol’ Dirty Bastard or, as he now refers to himself, Dirt McGirt?
We’re keeping the faith. And we’re not the only ones. In a power move of Suge Knight proportions, Roc-a-Fella’s Dame Dash signed ODB the minute he got released, promising him his own Dirt McGirt clothing line and a VH1 reality TV show. The result is hype of 50 Cent proportions, a testament to the overwhelming love the world has for our hero Dirt Dog. Nobody’s heard the album or seen the clothing line, but we have a sneaking suspicion they are both going to fucking rule.
We talked to VH1 about their new show ODB on Parole, and they told us about all the crazy shit they’ve filmed since he got out ten days ago. The show is going to put Ozzy and Anna Nicole to shame. Wait, what’s all this ten days shit? He got out months ago. I guess VH1 doesn’t want to get into the two months he spent in a mental institution. Besides, ODB on Parole After a Brief Purgatory at the Mental Hospital doesn’t have the same ring to it.
We don’t blame them for blacking out months of the past. Do you know what kind of shit rappers go through in prison? Whether they’re a so-called badass like Beanie Siegel or just some guy from Van Full of Pakistanis, every inmate piece of shit feels obligated to pound anyone famous in the face again and again until every last bit of popularity and pride is bashed out of them. There’s no Courvoisier and hos in prison. Just fights, fights, and more fights. In the April 2002 Vibe, Dirty confirmed all this, basically saying, “Get me the fuck out of here. I am going to die behind bars.” If you ask Dirt about it now, though, he goes off on a huge, long tangent about how Bush and Clinton are conspiring to kill him and how they have meetings about it all the time.
The rough-time-inside rumors seemed confirmed again when we met up with Dirt and noticed his neck was quite swollen and he had considerably fewer teeth than a man his age should. Speculation on our part, but that sounds kind of like a broken jaw, right? What the fuck happened in there?
Anyway, all this shit is bad for Dirty and a bummer to get into, but it is kind of great for his fans. Can you imagine the kind of weirdo, fucked-up shit he is on now? He’s like a phoenix rising from the flames. “The government is after me!” is going to sound trite when this next album comes out. Come on—he even showed up to the photo shoot with “Dirt McD” spelled out on the hood of his car in hockey tape.
Erik Lavoie: What do you think of me?
Dirty: You’re cool, man, just laid-back, you know what I’m saying? Just loosen out and be sharp, be witty, and it’ll all come to you.
I’d like to ask you something here, um, where did you get your new name?
Dirt McGirt comes from Dirt McGirt Island. It’s a place that’s right off the block from the next island off of Batman Island. I can’t let you know exactly where it is––it’s a secret, you know? Wonder Woman told me not to say nothing.
Why have you changed your name so much?
It’s like Picasso making a new picture. It feels good.
And what can you tell us about your style, about who influenced you?
My influences come from China; my style comes from Africa, Egypt, Tokyo, and Russia, with love; and the rest comes from Neptune.
You’re the international rapper.
But you’re also deeply rooted in New York.
Yeah, Seneca, the one that sold Manhattan to the white man, that’s my great-great- great-grandfather. [Yelling over to Poppa Wu] Yo, Freedom, how old our granddaddy go back? I’m talking about Seneca, my war clout. [Poppa Wu answers: He was born in 1774. He owned Manhattan] See, Seneca Indians owned Manhattan.
So you’re the original King of NY.
Yes, definitely, no other. I’m the original New Yorker. A toast to it.
What do you think about the stuff we hear on the radio today? It seems that a lot of it comes from you.
I hear that. I think it’s real hip-hop, I think it’s something smashing, lovely, radiant, you know, and gospel. I’m liking the groove that I’m hearing, but I think I set the trend. I’m the one that came with the “fuck you” and shit, I’m the one that taught rappers how to be themselves. Because before Ol’ Dirty came, they was too tight, they wouldn’t allow you to be yourself. And when Dirty came, I put the cramp in your leg in rap. I’m the wildest nigga on Earth, man, period. When Wu Tang started out, they was humble, afraid to get up on stage. I was wild. And I just said, “No, we’re doing it wild, crazy, we bug the fuck out.” So we just started going crazy on niggas, letting our anger out, emotions and shit. We came with the beauty of music. Like Jesus for example, he’s beautiful, you feel me? So this is what Wu Tang do, come with something beautiful for you, like high science. Einstein has a formula, Wu Tang has a formula. A part equals a square and all that stuff, you know what I’m saying? We have a formula, too.
You guys dropped the bomb.
Yeah, the formula is to attack everything at any given time. Just attack and shit like a waterfall, or like water in rapids or more like a fucking whirlpool, “Fuck you.”
And you also got something for the ladies.
Definitely. I’m like Marvin. He got a way of words with the ladies and I have a way of words with the ladies, too. Shit like: “Girls with honey dripping from your ass/ Arms with the funk of smoking grass/ You notice me down the block, I’m that good/ So do your people in your neighborhood/ The way you walk, your period is yummy/ The diamonds in my mouth I eat are gummy.” Shit like that, you know what I’m saying?
But don’t lie, you’re a family man too. How does that manifest itself?
Being there for them, taking care of them. Being a father, you know, living fat, living lovely, plentiful and healthy.
How’s the new record coming along? You’ve got the Roc behind you now, but RZA is still making beats for you, too. Are there too many chefs in the kitchen?
Nah. It’s just fun doing it. I’m really into it and I’m just trying to make it as hot as possible. Cuz you got flavor out there and I want to contribute to the flavor out there, you know what I’m saying? Cuz I’m liking the groove that I’m hearing. I’m just trying to come and be like the eagle over the other birds.
Yeah, but what does it sound like?
I’m coming with new shit, futuristic 2005–2006 shit. And that’s it. Cuz RZA got some shit that’s dangerous, you know what I’m saying? He’s definitely the Abbot. And Roc-a-Fella’s coming tight as hell. So it’s just going to be something for the ear to hear. I got something for the ladies also. I got one with the Neptunes called “Operator.” That shit is hot. Future shit.
Do you see things? Like visions and stuff? I think I do sometimes.
I guess so. I don’t know. We only got two eyes so I guess everything else is limited. You got two eyes, and you got two people, that makes four eyes. So when you’re trying to use four eyes, it makes it difficult to have one eye, you feel me? It limits things. I see things from a one-eye perspective and the four-eye perspective. The one-eye perspective is being able to see everything, as clear as my eye can see it.
I know exactly what you’re saying. It’s like sometimes I feel like I have eyes in the back of my head, and on the sides. It’s like, if you think you’re psychic, then maybe you are. Like the Five Percenters?
You mean the “black man is God” ones? If you keep it a secret, we’ll keep it like that.
As an artist, do you feel the need to comment on the political situation of the last couple of years? Do you follow that stuff at all? Because I think artists who feel like they have to say something about it are pussies.
I don’t follow shit. I just come and I leave. I come and I go. I’m Ol’ Dirty, man. You forgot?
ERIK LAVOIE AND DAVE ONE