February 16, 2014

My Gut Reaction: Ol' Dirty Bastard - Message To The Other Side (Osirus Part I) (November 17, 2009)

So today features yet another Wu-Tang Clan-related post.  At least it's regarding an actual member of the group, as opposed to one of their zillions of offshoots, weed carriers, or U-God, so I expect to see only a mild amount of complaining.  Once again, if you're violently against seeing any Wu stuff on the blog, (a) why do you keep coming here, anyway?, and (b) just give it a few days.  Change is constant, at least as long as I have my regular schedule going.

Russell "Ol' Dirty Bastard" Jones passed away in 2004, but that, of course, didn't stop anyone from trying to mooch off of the man's name.  Of the posthumous releases (those filled with original material, anyway) that hit store shelves in the years after his death, Message To The Other Side: Osirus Part 1 is by far the most suspicious.  For fuck's sake, it was distributed by something called Money Maker Records.  I did not just make that up.

And yet Message To The Other Side: Osirus Part 1 is an officially sanctioned album, executive produced by prolific mixtape deejay J-Love and even Russell's own brother, although it is extremely questionable as to whether or not any member of Dirty's estate stood to profit on this release, one that most of you two aren't even aware exists and will probably have to be convinced that is not an April Fools prank.

Like its predecessors Osirus and the still-unreleased Ason Unique (which is really Russell's swan song as far as I'm concerned), Message To The Other Side: Osirus Part 1 (lord willing we won't ever see a sequel) features tracks that, for the most part, had never been collected onto proper albums before.  However, most of the material on here was previously released otherwise, and hastily cobbled together as though the fridge had burned out and all of this food had to be cooked or else it would all go bad.  The RZA's name pops up multiple times on here, but primarily as a producer on tracks that true Wu stans would have already heard elsewhere: other fools who were probably not compensated for their contributions include Method Man, Masta Killa, Meyhem Lauren for some reason, Timbo King, and Dirty's Brooklyn Zu crew, which lends this project an air of "well, at least some of these participants were really trying to honor Russell's memory, even though the vehicle they're all attached to is clearly about to barrel off of that upcoming cliff".

Sigh.

1. INTRO (FEAT. 12 O'CLOCK, BUDDHA MONK, MURDOC, SHORTY SHIT STAIN, & ZU KEEPER)
For this rap album intro (which goes by the title “Dedication To ODB” in the liner notes), 12 O' Clock, Buddha Monk, Murdoc, Shorty Shit Stain, and Zu Keeper recite some classic Dirty verses (and the awesome “Me and Mariah / Go back like babies and pacifiers” like from Mariah Carey's “Fantasy” remix, which always brightens my day) while bobbing and weaving around some Russell Jones sound bites, making Message To The Other Side: Osiris Part 1 seem like the documentary that it most certainly is not (because that documentary comes later). Each artist shows obvious love for the deceased Osirus, though, and they treat the verses with respect. My favorite part of this sweet-but-otherwise-unnecessary intro is what Ol' Dirty Bastard casually drops damn near his entire verse from the Wu's “Protect Ya Neck” into an interview as though that's what a coherent thought should sound like. Hi-larious!

2. REUNITED
This is the same song as the “Reunited” that appeared on The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones, albeit with a J-Love beat that actually bangs. Still, this is hardly a “new” song, which doesn't bode well for my enjoyment of the album.

3. LIVE ON THE AIR, PT. 1
An interlude where Big Baby Osirus performs his verse from his own “Protect Ya Neck II Tha Zoo” over the beat from the Honeydrippers classic “Impeach The President”, and somehow that qualifies as being a freestyle. To be fair, Dirty probably performed this before Return To The 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version) was even a glimmer in his nut sack, but such technicalities don't mean shit to me. Clearly.

4. DIRTY
Given the context clues helpfully provided within the song itself, it's fair to say that Russell recorded this club-friendly track during his brief tenure at Roc-A-Fella Records. So it makes sense why our host focuses exclusively on fucking bitches on “Dirty”, although that doesn't make the track excusable. The beat is far too radio-friendly for most of the Wu, but Dirt McGirt never shied away from the pop spotlight (see: his collaborations with Pras, Mariah Carey, The Neptunes, and many others), so he actually didn't come across as terrible on here. He does come across as every other horny rapper that ever existed, though. And that's a problem: Ol' Dirty Bastard has never been considered to be interchangeable with anyone else.

5. CHILD SEEK 'EM (FEAT. PLEAZ)
This is actually a previously leaked song entitled “Children Sic 'Em”, which makes this project sound shady as fuck, not unlike that last Gravediggaz album 6 Feet Under, where the label retitled songs as a way to deceive the consumer. Sure would have been nice if someone had bothered to master this song, but what-the-fuck-ever. Dirty's lyrics achieve a sort-of unexpected clarity toward the end, where he expresses, that, had it not been for the Wu-Tang Clan, nobody in hip hop would even know Kung Fu, but he does say this before accusing Busta Rhymes of fucking his girl (although he's careful to say that he isn't taking shots at his former labelmate), so who knows what the fuck is going on at this point.

6. SKRILLA (FEAT. THE RZA)
Please refer to my review of Ason Unique for my thoughts.

7. WANNA BEES (FEAT. PLEAZ)
A horribly-mastered short song from Dirt McGirt that sounds pretty goddamn horrible (unsurprisingly), as it eradicates all of the rambunctiousness from his performance and replaces it with the rage the filled my soul and now all I want to do is punch this song in the neck. Oh, and some dude named Pleaz barely registers on here, too, although his name is misspelled in the liner notes, so there' s that.

8. BLACK MAMBA (FEAT. THE RZA & MASTA KILLA)
The not-hidden-very-well bonus track from the soundtrack to Kill Bill Vol. 2 finds a surrogate home on Message To The Other Side: Osiris Part 1 and automatically sounds much more polished than everything else on here, mainly because “Black Mamba” is a real song that was really mastered and released to real stores on a real album. Hell, I even wrote about it for Masta Killa's own The Next Chamber mixtape, so there isn't any possible way Wu stans could be tricked into thinking this was fresh.

9. ONE SHOT, TWO SHOT (FEAT. THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3RD)
Weirdly, ODB is the only guy who sounds like he had actually listened to PF Cuttin's beat before, as his middle verse is the only interesting, funny, and largely coherent one to be found (he threatens to blow your head off in the club while the deejays “play some old school shit, like Levert”, which is just hilarious to me). Underground stalwart Thirstin Howl also appears, even going so far as to compare himself to the Wu-Tang Clan, but his argument flounders because he sounds fucking awful on this track (which is strange, as I don't remember him being that bad of a rapper). You know who I miss? U-God. Not a joke.

10. GOT LOVE FOR YOU (FEAT. MEYHEM LAUREN)
A textbook case of how not to construct a rap song around a late artist's vocals. Meyhem Lauren's two verses reach the exact opposite conclusion than what Big Baby Jesus finds, making it all the more obvious that our host never got a chance to meet his collaborator. J-Love's beat uses an annoying soul sound bite in an effort to come across as clearance-rack RZA, but ends up more like...you know what? I have nothing nice to say about this song, so I'm just going to stop right now.

11. INTERLUDE

12. SAY NO
Frustrating as shit, because, although it isn't credited as such, “Say No” is actually “Drug Free”, a Deadly Venoms song (one that I've previously written about) featuring Dirty McGirty and Brooklyn Zoo member Shorty Shit Stain. The fact that nobody else is credited on here is deplorable and only adds fuel to the fire surrounding how much of a ripoff this bullshit project is, as does the blatant repackaging and misdirection. Fuck this album. Oh, shit, I still have nine goddamn songs to go. Fuck.

13. LIVE ON THE AIR, PT. 2 (FEAT. METHOD MAN)
“I know the hip hop audience ain't dumb”, Method Man exclaims during this interlude. Pretty sure he would never make that same statement today, but anyway, Meth and Osiris tag-team on a “freestyle” for Tim Westwood's radio show, and Johnny Blaze's smooth flow contrasts nicely with the hyperactive Bastard. Makes me wish that these two worked together more.

14. ALL COAST
Meh.

15. STOMP (FEAT. THE RZA)
Still didn't care for RZA's obnoxious shouting on this Ason Unique album track.  Also, I still don't understand why Dirty would want two songs with the word "Stomp" as the focus  in his back catalog.  I guess we'll never know.

16. LIVE ON THE AIR, PT. 3 (FEAT. THE RZA)
It's a family affair as Ol' Dirty teams up with his cousin The RZA (or Prince Rakeem, as he presents himself on here) for a “freestyle” over ESG's “U.F.O.", which, given the song choice, sounds predictably awesome. Osiris busts out part of the first verse from “Brooklyn Zoo”, and it sounds pretty fucking great: who knew that Ghostface Killah wasn't the only Clan member who could sound fantastic over a breakbeat? This interlude loses points for not including Dirty's other cousin, GZA/Genius, but maybe Gary was waiting in the car or something. You never know.

17. BAM BAM
I know a lot of people are confused as to why The RZA hasn't released any of the unused ODB vocals that he has locked in his vaults. The reason lies with Dirty's estate: there's too much legal red tape to tear through just to leak a single goddamn song. I have a feeling that most of his unreleased shit sounds as bad as the embarrassingly-titled “Bam Bam”, and we're actually much better off for not having heard any of it yet, though.

18. OSIRUS
Steals its best material from "Stand Up", a Cappadonna-featured entry on Osirus.  Wouldn't expect anything less.

19. HOT SAUCE (FEAT. TIMBO KING)
On one hand, this song isn't half bad, even with its goofy title. On the other, more important hand, this shit isn't even an Ol' Dirty Bastard track: he doesn't even appear on here, as this is a Timbo King (of Royal Fam) solo shot through and through. What the hell?

20. FORT GREEN PROJECTS (FEAT. FREE MURDER, THE RZA, & SHACRONZ)
This just makes me really fucking angry. “Fort Green Projects”, while slight, isn't a terrible song, but since it also doesn't feature the alleged star attraction, its inclusion is highly questionable. The RZA and two members of Division (formerly C.C.F. Division), Free Murder and Shacronz, all spit a verse apiece, with one stanza evoking a different deceased rapper (Big Punisher, for those of you who care), so it can't even be argued that this shit was intended to be a tribute of any sort. If The RZA really was a part of this project, there's no way he would have approved this shit making it through to the final round. Grr.

21. DESTINY (FEAT. LESK ONE)
Pathetic. Not Lesk One's performance: he's serviceable. But this is the third song in a row that has fuck-all to do with Ol' Dirty Bastard, so it's clear that J-Love ran out of material and was just throwing shit on to pad the running time. Almost makes you rethink just how much you like J-Love as a deejay. Then again, Message To The Other Side: Osiris Part 1 was released by Money Maker Records, which, obviously, should have tipped you off about twenty minutes ago. At least this horseshit is finally over.

Message To The Other Side: Osiris Part 1 also comes with a second disc that contains a twenty-minute preview of a documentary about the life of Ol' Dirty Bastard that has yet to see a full version released. As I'm pretty sure nobody reading this will ever actually buy this shit, I figured I'd alert you two of its existence and be on my way.

THE LAST WORD: No.

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
There's more Wu here, but to get caught up on the late Big Baby Jesus specifically, click here.

15 comments:

  1. another classic Max review. Willie the Kid and Bronze Nazareth album The Living Daylights could be a nice review.. and it is technically Wu-affiliated :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would like to see a review of that too along with the Oh No & Prince Po album. And I believe that Ol Dirty documentary did come actually come out, I think it's called The Life And Times of Ol' Dirty Bastard. Theres something else out called All In Together Now: A Tribute To Ol Dirty Bastard which is basically some Brooklyn Zoo songs without Ol Dirty. That project is pretty much bullshit too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That Oh No Po album good? I've only heard the track with OC and Pharaohe Monch which was really good I thought

      Delete
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeNV-WAJKTg
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmhxskpiAQs

      i personally believe po tore the shit out of every instrumental, even the more average ones and the poppy one towards the album's end

      there's also oh no making a vocal appearance toxic which doubles the amazing lyrical potency

      Delete
  3. I would like to see one final Ol Dirty album with production by RZA and the Wu elements. something that's. put together with care and has some time put into it cause these last few posthumous releases have been fuckin garbage. the Ason Unique one was alright, but it coulda been much better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wonder if the Wu Seeds would ever form a group. Boy Jones, Sun God, Masta Killa's kids, GZA's son, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with your comments about the Stomp song. Why couldnt they just name the one from the Ason Unique album Stomp Part II or some shit?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Method's verse on 'Live on the Air Pt. 2' is the same as the one on Killarmy's 'Next up'. I've met Tim Westwood before too, he's one nutter. I don't know if this is just me, but I find myself soaked in guilt listening to anything by ODB, finding out recently that most of his rhymes were written by GZA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why would Gza write the batshit crazy lyrics dirty keeps reciting. I can see Gza writing for Dirty's "Brooklyn Zoo", but the again Dirty can actually rhyme like the best when the stars align and stuff.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, I meant 'most of his rhymes on his debut'.
      And on the contrary, 'Brooklyn Zoo' was one ODB wrote apparently.

      http://www.complex.com/music/2011/10/method-man-25-essential-songs/ol-dirty-bastard-f-method-man-raekwon-raw-hide-1995

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the clarification and link man. Maybe there is some truth behind GZA's story. Just maybe.

      Delete
    4. whoops, I mean Meth's story.

      Delete
    5. ODB's debut recycles a lot of GZA and some RZA rhymes from when they were much younger (I seem to remember some Wu members said a lot of those verses were penned by GZA when he was 15 or 16 years old).

      Good review BTW, Max.

      Delete
  7. Hey Max, have you ever given thought to reviewing Dead Prez's debut? I'd be interested in reading a review on that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'd be just as interested in the comments as the review

      Delete