EWA100 - #76. Ol' Dirty Bastard - Brooklyn Zoo

76. Ol' Dirty Bastard - Brooklyn Zoo (Elektra. 1995. From the LP Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version)

Mike Dikk: I’m one of those people that reads a lot of dumb hip hop tidbits that no normal person needs to know. Unfortunately, I get a lot of the information jumbled up since the internet is all about old hip hop secrets and gossip these days. From what I sort of remember, ODB was either signed to Elektra before the Wu Tang album even came out or before it really blew up. Either way, if the Wu Tang album bombed (yeah right), there is no fucking way I could imagine a record company giving ODB that much creative control to record and release Return to the 36 Chambers the way it was. “Brooklyn Zoo” was one of the only things on the record that could be considered a real song, so it became a single by default. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best Wu Tang related songs ever. It reminds you that ODB is actually a pretty dope rapper and not just some larger than life cartoon character that modern day media portrayed him as. The thing is, the LP as a whole is a lot more impressive. The way things are with the Record Biz these days, I highly doubt you’ll ever hear something like this by a “rapper” again.
If you’re not a Wu-Tang historian, Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers was released. The first solo Wu release was the Method Man’s album which wasn’t a far departure from 36 Chambers. Shortly after, Return to the 36 Chambers was released, and I definitely didn’t understand what the fuck was going on when I first heard it. Now I’m old and smarmy enough to realize it’s brilliant, but when you’re a teenager with a barely existent income, you don’t really want to buy a tape and hear some dude do the “Remember when we used to see who could do this the longest?” skit for a few minutes followed by a purposely bad R&B spoof.
I’m really glad I got to experience this record while it was new and ODB was still alive. I was barely alive in the '70s, so I missed out on music’s true experimental era. There isn’t a lot of major label releases you’ll find from the '90s that make you say “Wow, this dude is fucking crazy!”, let alone a rap release. Rap is all about being serious. So when you get a chance to experience some dude doing a “I’m crazy and I’m on welfare and I don’t give a fuck” gimmick, you better cherish it motherfucker, because it won’t come along too often. R.I.P ODB. You truly were one of a kind despite the fact that you got a little too crazy right before you died and made a lot of shit music in your last days. We can all forgive you because you gave us singles like “Brooklyn Zoo”, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Got Your Money”, but most importantly, you gave us the postmodern masterpiece, “Return to the 36 Chambers”

Raven Mack: I have always thought in words and wrote rhymes in my head, and there's this sort of mutant hybrid beat that always bops along in my head. This song is etched deep in my brain because the first time I heard it, it shattered all that shit I thought I knew. Even after the first Wu album, this shattered all that shit too. It was such a fucked-up yet sick beat, and ODB's style is the same. I was a huge Wu-mark back then, probably up until Wu-Tang Forever came out and sucked, and the Ol' Dirty Bastard was my favorite by far back then, not only for his own crazy style, but when you heard the paranoid bugged out fuckers from Sunz of Man and Killa Army, you knew they had been hanging out with ODB most likely and not some pimped out Ghost or Raekwon or cyber-intelligent GZA or RZA.
I'm not one to give a fuck when a celebrity dies because it's just a celebrity you don't know. Like if some great famous rapper or wrestler or writer or something dies, I don't sit around and be all sad about it and bust out that dude's shit and reminisce on how I materially purchased dead dude's consumer output and got a little bit of joy out of my money, instead of the usual wasting of it like with most bullshit you buy. But when ODB died, it really wasn't any different, though I did give it a second thought, thinking maybe the CIA did kill him. Lifting a car to save a trapped baby, stealing shoes in Va. Beach when he had a platinum record, arriving onstage at Hammerstein while on the run from the law, getting reapprehended in a Burger King parking lot in Philly, many children by many women, crack addictions and jail time... the Ol' Dirty Bastard is the closest thing to a hero I've probably had in my adult life.
There was some public access video show called Karamel's Video Jamz back in the day in Richmond, and he used to play an alternate "Brooklyn Zoo" video that was like a kung fu movie with sub-titles and cars blowing up and shit. That was some good shit that I've never seen since. I'm sure it's on stupid youtube, but seriously, did the Ol' Dirty Bastard get as awesome as he was sitting around on his fuckin' ass looking up stupid shit on youtube? Fuck no.

Download: Ol' Dirty Bastard - Brooklyn Zoo

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