February 15, 2009

Reader Review: Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (March 28, 1995)


(To start off the second round of Reader Reviews, Banksta presents you two with what Hip Hop Isn’t Dead was obviously missing – yet another Wu-Tang Clan album review. However, he tackles one of their earlier solo efforts, one of which may be a buried treasure amongst your knick-knacks which are collecting dust on your respective shelves. And for all of the readers that continue to complain about the immense number of Wu-Tang mentions on HHID: Enjoy!)

Again, you already know Wu-Tang Clan's history (we’re hoping), so I'll just jump to the essentials. Ol' Dirty Bastard, the most insane and, yet, most commercially appealing rapper from the Clan, released what would end up being the second solo Wu album, Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (I'd also like to review the others later, in case Max will keep posting reader reviews). After this album, which is usually considered to be the most Wu-sounding Wu-Tang solo album, Dirt McGirt found success in the music industry, and, also, many years of incarceration (albeit for increasingly creative reasons).

But you already knew all of that. What you (probably) didn't know, though, is that he's my favourite rapper ever (I kept the spelling true to the actual submission, although my spellchecker is having a fit). It's not like he was most talented member of the group - in fact, he was the second-to-worst rapper in the Clan, next to U-God (or Lucky Hands - both nicknames are fucking irrelevant, if you ask me). (Golden Arms is also a pretty useless moniker. His career may have been better off if he actually went by his government name, Lamont Hawkins – at least that way, maybe people would have been tricked into purchasing what they believed to be an audiobook to fall asleep to while on their flight.) He wasn't very creative either, since in his career he would repeat some of his verses hundreds of times. (That was probably just the massive amounts of drugs in his system, to be fair.) I love Russell because both he and his delivery were erratic, insane, original, brilliant, and “there was no father to his style”, as Method Man stated (although Dirty's style was inspired by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash). Shortly after becoming familiar with the Clan and Osirus himself, I ordered this album, and when I finally received it, I was so happy, but I can’t explain exactly why: it just felt like I finally found the soundtrack of my life, and, well, I was right (which probably is a matter for my therapist to ponder).

Now, it's time for sharing my opinion about this album.


1. INTRO
After this long, insane intro, you (should) know what to expect from the rest of this album.

2. SHIMMY SHIMMY YA
I don't know why the version with an actual second verse, which appeared in the track’s video, didn't make the cut. Still, crippled or not, this song knocks.

3. BABY C’MON
ODB reuses lyrics from his demo tapes (a recurring theme throughout his short career: in this case, they’re from a song called “Wu-Tang” (which is a fantastically creative title)), but with a shakier delivery. (Once again, that may just be the drugs.) The two different beats work well, and Ason's voice loop at the end is crazy.

4. BROOKLYN ZOO
The first single, and proof positive that a Wu-Element (True Master, in this case) can produce songs as good as The RZA. This shit is fucking great.

5. HIPPA TO THE HOPPA
Decent, but way too short.

6. RAW HIDE (FEAT RAEKWON & METHOD MAN)
I bet one hundred to one that cocaine is primarily responsible for ODB's delivery. This track is just awesome. (I always thought it was bizarre that Method Man was rapping about menstruation, but that’s probably just me.)

7. DAMAGE (FEAT GZA/GENIUS)
Russell Jones and his cousin Gary Grice do a fierce back-n-forth and rip the shit out of some RZA/4th Disciple production.

8. DON’T U KNOW (FEAT KILLAH PRIEST)
Ol' Dirty Chinese Restaurant decided to reconfigure a freestyle from a talent show he performed at with his cousin, Prince Rakeem (which, I want to say, occurred before The RZA released 'Ooh We Love You Rakeem', but I'm not sure) into an actual song. Killah Priest kind of interrupts ODB's ranting, though.

9. THE STOMP
Not to be confused with “Stomp”, as that was a completely different Dirt McGirt song (from A Son Unique). This shit is pretty fucking good, but I recall hearing some of the lyrics presented here on at least three of Dirty's demo tapes. (Clearly, this guy is a massive ODB fan, since even I don’t have all of the man’s fucking demo tapes.) I cannot imagine another title for this beat.

10. GOIN’ DOWN
Huh. I just did ODB’s throat sound exactly twice as long as him on my first try. Does that mean it's weak? Hell no! It's a great fucking song in which Dirt Dog showcases various styles over some pretty good Rza interaction. Overall, this was a brilliant musical experience through and through. (I’m still trying to prove that Banksta isn’t ODB’s posthumous publicist.)

11. DRUNK GAME (SWEET SUGAR PIE)
This is easily the worst song here on album. A weak beat and the lack of actual verses add up to a shitty track, and I didn’t really need to hear the fake orgasm. (Neither did the rest of the fucking planet.)

12. SNAKES (FEAT KILLAH PRIEST, THE RZA, MASTA KILLA, & BUDDHA MONK)
This is easily the best song here on album. (I concur.) The beat is just awesome, with great bass loop and drums, and the featured guests rip the shit out of it. ODB spits random nonsense here (as always), but the most hilarious thing he does on here is when he gives a shout to the Wu-Tang Clan, he doesn't mention Masta Killa, even though he is present on this fucking track.

13. BROOKLYN ZOO II (TIGER CRANE) (FEAT GHOSTFACE KILLAH)
Ason repeats his lyrics from "Damage", but in an even more erratic and insane way. This song is decent, but... Ghostface? What the fuck?

14. PROTECK YA NECK II THE ZOO (FEAT BUDDHA MONK, PRODIGAL SUNN, ZU KEEPER, MURDOC, KILLAH PRIEST, 12 O’CLOCK, SHORTY SHIT STAIN, & 60 SECOND ASSASSIN)
It's not better than "Snakes", but I still love this song. The guests that popped on here are all on the Wu-Tang junior varsity team (or in the case of Shorty Shit Stain, the waterboy), but they all sound decent over The Rza's aggressive production. (I've heard ODB's verse here on at least three demos, too.)

15. CUTTIN’ HEADZ (FEAT THE RZA)
The instrumental from the Wu-Tang Clan's “Clan In Da Front” is played in reverse (or, rather, “Clan In Da Front”' was a backwards “Cuttin' Headz”, since this is a reworking of a song from their demo tapes), and ODB and his cousin, Robert Diggs, rip shit in a very pleasant manner.

The following are bonus tracks (which only appear on the CD version).

16. DIRTY DANCIN’ (FEAT METHOD MAN)
The bass-filled beat is pretty good, as well as the whole package.

17. HARLEM WORLD
A long, boring, and shitty way to end your album.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version is just kick-ass. It's not because Dirty's my favourite rapper, though (riiiiight) - it just sounds good, although it's a head-scratcher as to why. On most of the songs presented here, Russell spits mainly nonsense in his verses, and sounds nuts, but not as crazy as he does on N---- Please. His debut also shows how fucking great a producer The Rza can be, since he was able to tailor his sound to match the feel of the featured artist, and it also becomes apparent exactly how much of an impact he had on the Wu-Tang sound.

BUY OR BURN? This shit deserves a BUY. Sure, other Wu-Tang solo releases such as Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... or Liquid Swords are better (you see, you two, he’s clearly not crazy), but that's why you need to get those, too. (Hell, if you purchase the entire set, Cappadonna will throw in a few free cab rides around New York City, which can be a hard commodity to come by, so take advantage now.)

BEST TRACKS: "Snakes", "Raw Hide", "Brooklyn Zoo", "Goin' Down", "The Stomp", "Damage", "Shimmy Shimmy Ya", "Proteck Ya Neck II The Zoo", "Cuttin' Headz".

-Banksta

(Be sure to leave comments below if you're interested in keeping this experiment going, or if you just like talking trash. And for further reading, here's a link to my original post.)

7 comments:

  1. I agree with your review Banksta... except your opinion on "Drunk game". I think this song was made week on purpose. ODB is trying to pretend a singer, not a rapper. He is trying to give his voice a smooth tone (ha ha ha). Somehow, this track had to sound a little bit different, less hard.

    "Goin' down" is just great. ODB is letting himself go, does (and says) anything on his mind. A kind of a prequel on "Drunk game".

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  2. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessFebruary 16, 2009

    That was probably the weakest guest review yet. Definitely not my favourite.

    Also, I'm not convinced that Banksta is listening to actual demo tapes. There is a legitimate Wu-Tang Clan demo floating around cyberspace but I'm not sure that ODB recorded multiple demos as a solo artist. The fact that so many of his verses are repeated on various tracks is a testament to the unpredictability of BBJ. If he couldn't even be counted on to show up for official retail releases, he probably didn't have the fortitude to record demo after ineffectual demo.

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  3. exactly "The Stomp" & "Protect Ya Neck II" is is the stuff. It was one of the funnier entrees apart from getting outclassed by brackets. shit.

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  4. Harlem World was one of the weaker tracks on this classic album, but it still isn't bad at all.

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  5. AnonymousMay 05, 2009

    dirty dancin all the way. nastiest beat here

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  6. AnonymousJuly 29, 2009

    Harlem World is a fucking great way to close the album. One of my favourite "outro" tracks along with Mack's "Welcome To 1994" (I mean real outros, not just last songs on albums)

    All in all the review doesn't give the album due props.

    kormega

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  7. gfk killed brooklyn zoo pt 2...... awful review

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