Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Nigga Please.

The line of genius and madman is often referenced but rarely with as much clarity as when looking at Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

With a strong back catalogue of tracks both on his first album and Wu-Tang Clan material it’s quite tragic ODB’s last album, the 1999 release Nigga Please showcases the lost unique talent more than any other record he played any part on.

Nigga Please shows real superstar qualities. Yes, it’s offensive – but it’s hard to take offense at the real art / lunacy this album delivers. He’s pretty much the hip-hop Ozzy.

Recognize is a solid intro. Chris Rock introduces Ol’ Dirty and that unique gravelly hip-hop vocal booms with lunatic imagery. Not many artists can sound truly as if they don’t give a flying fuck – this feat is not only pulled off – but you don’t even question how genuine the vocal is. You just know he’s as mad as they come. Totally off the wall – but totally on the money.

I Can’t Wait follows. It sounds like a live news feed for a television show. Forget Prince changing his name every so often – ODB morphs into Big Baby Jesus and delivers a frantic burst of crazed / genius vocal. Not conforming to standard vocal delivery ODB just stops when he feels like it. He forgets what he’s rapping about and starts give lunatic shout out’s to eskimos. Lunacy. Genial. Unique. It really needs to heard.

Cold Blooded is more formulaic. Almost stuctured the gravel vocal almost sings. A very twisted Prince sugests itself – but Prince could never do hip-hop this way even if he tried.

You want Pop? You get Pop next. Got Your Money drops next. Yes, again it’s still expletive heavy but you cannot deny its true Pop charm. A chorus featuring Kelis is one of the catchiest multi-genre walking hits of the late 90’s. ODB ordering Kelis to “SING IT!” shouldn’t work – but its a masterstroke. A triumph.

Rollin’ Wit You starts with one of my favourite vocal intros of all time. ODB repeating himself, sounding as live and raw as one could possibly imagine. Sure, he’s in a studio, but this beast cannot be tamed. When the track settles a vocal so crazy flows you can only sit there and listen. “If I’ve Got A Problem – I’ve Probably Got A Problem Until Its Gone”. The lyrics pour out like possessed mantras. You question sanity further but appreciate the raw art this piece spews.

Gettin’ High has a dangerous party atmosphere. Threatening vocals. The vibe is dark – nasty even. ODB takes a back seat. A wave of Wu Tang and non Wu Tang vocalists take the mic. A dark break and interlude arguably.

You Don’t Want To Fuck With Me puts ODB back on the mic. Slow hip-hop beats and the lunacy levels go up higher still. Rasping growling delivery – almost worryingly crazy.

Nigga Please oddly for the album title too is one of the weaker tracks on the LP. Lets move on.

Dirt Dog delves deep with primitive ramblings. “Number One I Live In My Momas House”. A ditty really, it pads out the album.

I Want Pussy loops with minimal hip-hop beats before interrupting itself and practically breaking open the structure. Loops. Repetition and another sanity alert.

I’ve already referenced the hip-hop Ozzy notion I’ve always considered about Ol’ Dirty Bastard but this widens on Good Morning Heartache. If anything he’s walking a hip-hop Sinatra here. Almost cartoon like the only saving grace is how genuinely messed up this art is.

All In Together Now is a hip-hop party at 4am. Slow, tired, the last pulse wave of a crazy all night bash.

Cracker Jack closes Nigga Please the LP almost apologetically bores itself away.

Reading back through this before posting it almost sounds in places that the album is not that great – and it’s true that it does get patchy. That said, it cannot be underestimated what a truly original (if not troubled) artist Ol’ Dirty Bastard was. You cannot deny that very raw talent. There’s no comparison in hip-hop. I feel if he’d overcome some deep demons a crossover from hip-hop would have been very likely and he could have been a real global superstar. A force a nature that burned dangerously strong but all too briefly…

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