One of the founding members of the legendary Wu Tang Clan, ODB recorded some of the most influential hip-hop of the '90s, Ol' Dirty Bastard was the loose cannon of the group, both on record and off. Delivering his outrageously profane, free-associative rhymes in a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style, ODB came across as a mix of gonzo comic relief and not-quite-stable menace.
Dirty became the second Wu-Tang member to launch a solo career (after Method Man) when he signed with Elektra and released the RZA-produced Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version in early 1995. The stellar singles "Brooklyn Zoo" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" both became hits, making the album a gold-selling success.
Additionally, his guest spot on a remix of Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" produced one of the year's unlikeliest hitmaking teams. With the concurrent success of the other Wu solo projects, anticipation for the group's second album ran high, and when the double-disc Wu-Tang Forever came out in the summer of 1997, it sold over 600,000 copies in its first week of release. Included on the second disc was "Dog Shit", two and a half minutes of perhaps the most bizarre, scatological ODB ranting that had yet appeared on record. And then, the saga began.
In 1999, he found time to release Nigga Please between jail sentences, which received much success and was even more bizarrely warped than his debut. This release included the single "Got Your Money" which became extremely successful in the US and elsewhere; it was produced by The Neptunes, and its success would serve as one of the production group's main stepping stones to the super-stardom they would later achieve.
In 2001, with Jones again in jail for crack cocaine possession, his record company Elektra Records made the decision to release a greatest hits album (despite there being only two albums in ODB's back catalog) in order to both end their contract with the unreliable, troubled artist as well as make some money off the publicity generated by his legal troubles.
Working on a new album for Roc-A-Fella Records, work ended suddenly when ODB collapsed in a recording studio and died shortly thereafter in November of 2004. During his career ODB had several monikers including: Big Baby Jesus, Dirt McGirt, Dirt Dog, Russell Jones, Osirus and Joe Bananas.