August 12, 2007

Ol' Dirty Bastard - N---a Please (September 14, 1999)

After some turbulent times (drug addiction, frequent run-ins with law enforcement, crashing the Grammys), Russell Jones decided he wanted to become a superstar. He would always have ties with the Wu-Tang Clan, especially since the other two founding members were his cousins. However, he wanted to try something different.

Upon purchase of N---a Please, ODB's second solo album released on Elektra Records, one notices that a certain production duo who wouldn't normally even be considered to be considered for a Wu project pops up on three tracks: The Neptunes were tapped to bring a more commercial sound to this project. Normally the idea of a rapper whose very name screams "radio friendly" trying to appeal to the masses with a pop hit would sound ridiculous, and that's how I took it when I saw the first video, "Got Your Money", which featured Kelis back when she had big hair and nobody knew who the hell she was. However, after hearing it a few times, I realized that the song was pretty damn catchy, so I guess that experiment worked.

Irv Gotti, he of the Murder Inc. and getting-arrested-for-possessing-Viagra-without-a-prescription fame, also provides some of the production duties here, and the majority of the rest comes from Dirty's beloved cousin Robert Diggs, a/k/a The Rza. Other than the Abbott himself, there are no other core Wu members appearing on N---a Please. Some would look at this as a dismissal of Dirty's champagne dreams, but I choose to believe that everyone else was busy churning out terrible sophomore efforts, or in the cases of Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa, they were busy trying to convince The Rza to finally let them release their debuts, arguments that would actually work for two of the three artists involved, with mixed results.

N---a Please was a critical and commercial success, surprising since in order for an album to sell as many copies as N---a Please did, white people would be forced to actively seek out an album with the n-word in its very title and purchase it with a straight face. But hey, "Got Your Money" has a good beat, and you can dance to it, so I suppose that was enough incentive to risk looking like a fucking racist at the record store.

And who doesn't love that cover, with Dirty doing his best Rick James impression?

I don't, for one. But that's only due to how he would later die, of a drug overdose, which was spookily similar to how Rick James passed.

I don't remember reading anywhere that the world was clamoring for Chris Rock to rap. (I heard his rap parodies on that Born Suspect album, the comedy CD he released before hooking up with Prince Paul; I was not impressed.) Pookie does his best to not completely embarrass himself, and Pharrell does his falsetto thing on the hook, a harbinger of things to come in Pharrell's (and pop radio's) future. ODB sounds as nuts as he always did, but you immediately miss The Rza's dusty basement beats.

Irv Gotti takes a sample from TJ Hooker and gives Dirty a track that sounds like he's going to introduce tonight's edition of 20/20. I should mention that this album is much harder to listen to than his first solo release, possibly because the effect of the various drugs in DIrty's system caused his rhymes to be more erratic than they used to be. Just imagine Kool Keith on shrooms, and you won't be anywhere close to what I'm getting at.

Dirty covers the Rick James song to hilarious effect, but I still can't shake that spooky feeling. Thinking of Dave Chappelle helps, though.

The first, and as far as I know, only single. It still sounds alright, but anyone who truly thinks this song is better than anything else in his back catalog should be left behind in a Brooklyn zoo.

I wonder if Elektra Records had Dirty sign an insurance waiver before they would let him into the studio, because, even if he could blame it on the drugs, the racist comments during the intro would have definitely caused him to get his ass beat down by both black and white people, in a display of racial harmony. That being said, this song sounds ok.

So far, this would be the most Wu sounding song on N---a Please, with the beat provided by Buddha Monk, and guest vocals by Russell's brother 12 O' Clock and heavily praised Wu affiliate La The Darkman. However, Dirty doesn't appear on this song, so it doesn't count. Good to see the guy with the worst rap name in the whole of Wu-Tang history still getting work, though.

At this point, Ol Dirty's incessant shouting of both his lyrics and his choruses will probably drive you insane.

The best song on the album, with one of the best Rza "digital" beats. ODB sounds like his old self here, rhyming about how cocaine clears out his sinuses, although even that lyric is unsettling now. As the song fades out, The Rza promises us an album featuring "The Abbott & The Crazy Monk", which of course never happened.

This is one of the most plain sounding productions I have ever heard, and both The Rza and Buddha Monk had a hand in it. Dirty sounds like his old self, but the beat doesn't help him at all.

Sounds like a Rza throwaway track, and Dirty sounds pretty fucking terrifying at the end when he states "my mama cannot protect ya'll, bitch". This is how you reach for a broader audience, by crawling up your own asshole?

I never cared for this song, because Lil' Mo is overrated, and I never liked Dirty's singing, no matter how sincere he was being.

True Master provides the sonic backdrop for a song whose title pays homage to the rap group The Rza, Gza, and ODB were originally a part of. Dirty hardly bothers with even the most simple rap music convention, "rhyming to the beat", but this song should appease Wu-Tang fans.

N---a Please also features an unlisted thirteenth song that can't be considered a bonus track:

Rumored to be a Rza track, and hopefully it is, as it is so much more interesting than Dirty's lyrics. Probably should have been left off the album, but then that would cause bloggers (including myself) to assign a mythical quality to it as a cherished "unreleased track", and I would be forced to scour the Interweb for it. Sigh...

FINAL THOUGHTS: As a Wu-Tang album, solo or otherwise, N---a Please is awful. If you had never even heard of the Clan before picking this album up, there is literally no way you could connect this project with the other eight members of the group. However, that's not how this album should be judged. The Wu have always been, and always will be, nine solo artists who would occasionally join forces to release a group effort, so N---a Please should be judged as a Dirt McGirt solo album and nothing more. That being said, this album can be seen as either hilarious or frustrating, depending on your state of mind and any illicit substances you may be under the influence of at the time, because at least on Return To The 36 Chambers, ODB was rapping most of the time. To appeal to as many people as possible, though, you have to branch out, and that's what old Russell did, and in doing that, he secured the throne of Most Mainstream Wu-Tang Member, dethroning Method Man, who probably didn't want that position anyway.

BUY OR BURN? Mainstream or not, N---a Please hasn't aged very well, so I would recommend a burn. Hardcore Wu-Tang fans like myself who already own this one will be better off listening to their copies of Return To The 36 Chambers again.

BEST TRACKS: "N---a Please"; "Got Your Money"; "Gettin' High"; "Cold Blooded"


Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return To The 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version)
The Rza - Rza as Bobby Digital In Stereo
Pharrell - In My Mind
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Wu-Tang Clan - Wu-Tang Forever


  1. This record was such a disappointment to me because his debut was and still is in my opinion the most interesting solo effort by far. The things he did on that first record were so out of control but somehow worked because they were either reigned in by Rza or my own tremendous drug intake at the time. Either way, I feel you on this one (like that's abnormal) and was sorely disappointed.

  2. "Hardcore Wu-Tang fans like myself"

  3. i at the time didn't really know what to think of it.
    i was glad i finally had sth new by the craziest niga on the mic but at the same time didn't really feel most of the tracks
    Must say i did appreciate his shoutout to all the teachers in the world ( on "I can't wait", if i remember correctly) At least someone appreciated my efforts in the classroom, lol !
    I did like "goodmorning heartache" : ODB goes Frank Sinatra on crack, still makes me laugh whenever i give that one a spin :)
    And Max, I found his "my mama cannot protect y'all"-line simply hilarious , still do.
    About that belgian compil I wanted your opinion on, don't worry Max. When you have time and feel like checking it out, just let me know at UW and I'll fix you up, OK .
    Glad you like the polls, peace man!

  4. just wanted to say i enjoy your blog and say thanks!!

  5. If your biggest complaint about this record is that Dirty is erratic and shouts a lot, then maybe you shouldn't have picked up an ODB record in the first place. This review is like a vegan reviewing a steakhouse.

    By the way, you didn't even review the "I can't wait" song, rather you talked about it for one sentence and then started strawman bashing ODB in general.

    Your review is obviously biased, you went in hating it, and thus isn't very helpful for people on the fence for picking it up.

  6. Derek ClaptonAugust 21, 2012

    1999 called, they don't want their annoying pop rap production back. Though, "hippa to the hoppa and you just don't stop. I control Michael Jackson's Thriller no matter what," is quite possibly the greatest line ever dropped.

  7. Shouldn't your intro state... *Normally the idea of a rapper whose very name screams "NOT radio friendly"* or am I missing the point?

  8. "You Don't Want To Fuck With Me" thumps...his chanting/shouting lyrics are no different, not sure why would you would dislike this song and like others. love the site keep it up man

  9. The beat on track 5 has actually aged much better today, and odb spitting his racial comments still make me laugh.

  10. this was an awful album, I really don't see how anyone actually really like this crap without foggy nostalgia goggles for good ol odb

  11. The majority of songs on here were entertaining enough for me to disregard antics of ODB's that would annoy most people.

    1. And Good Morning Heartache made me cry today.

      Not because of Lil Mo's singing, which is admirable and underrated here, but because it honestly feels as if ODB was singing the last remnants of his soul out on that song.