1995, Music

Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (1995) by Ol’ Dirty Bastard

What the actual fuck?

I must admit, I had heard things about Ol’ Dirty Bastard many times, but I had no actual reference for what he sounded like. (I have heard the piano part from “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” but I don’t think I’ve actually heard this song. Maybe I have. Not really sure.)

But it’s true, he’s inimitable. If that’s all anyone cared about, I suspect I would rate this album a lot higher. But rating this album high because Ol’ Dirty Bastard is an extraordinarily unique rapper is like rating an album high because the singer is excellent – it ignores everything else.

As others have noted, that intro is loonnng. I might have laughed once or twice but I can imagine another world in which those gags are spread around rather than concentrated in a nearly 5 minute track that says “You have to wait for the music.” (I will never get hip hop skits. They are such a waste of the audience’s time.) The good news it that there aren’t any more skits after that. (Just brief intros to songs.) That’s a good thing and endears me to the record once I get past the intro.

Dirty’s lyrics are as dirty as you’ve heard – they are crude, they are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, but they are more often laugh-out-loud funny to teenagers. Had someone introduced me to hip hop with this album when I was 13 I might have absolutely loved it. (Except for, you know, I couldn’t have approached hip hop at age 13.) But 25 years later, it’s hard to admire his lyrics.

This record is definitely more my style of production than some hip hop records. (I think this means I am a fan of east coast hip hop to the extent that I am a fan of either coast.) But when I say “production” I mean the backing tracks, not the actual product. Because, as with the vast majority of hip hop albums I’ve yet encountered, this thing is way too damn long.

He is utterly unique. If the lyrics made more of an impression on me, or if there were a few less uses of “zoo” I might find it less of a chore to get through.


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