Music News

Ol' Dirty Bastard

He was never going to be confused with Tupac while alive, but the late, great prankster Ol' Dirty Bastard is now shadowing him in the lucrative hip-hop afterlife. Like Pac, he's left a maternal hand on his till of posthumous product, the only question being how much of it exists. In light of the fact that ODB allegedly recorded even with his Wu-Tang comrade the RZA while on the lam, the answer is: probably more than you think.

The first installment is this official mixtape, all but completed before ODB's OD last year, and it's neither revelatory nor embarrassing (like the 2002 release cobbled together by D3 while he languished in jail). If the first single, "Pop Shots," finds Ol' Dirty strangely subdued amid DJ Premier's classic scratch-and-piano production and if "Down South" reveals him flailing in crunk, other moments -- "Fire," with its berserk "Ooohhhh!" hook and cleverly reversed chorus beat; the Bowie-and-D.M.C. biting "Run Dirty Run," which lurches ahead like Ol' Dirty taking the stage at the '98 Grammys -- offer reminders of his inspired lunacy and can't help but elicit a smile.

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Dan Leroy