The greatness of Ol’ Dirty Bastard is tough to measure within the traditional “Who’s the best MC?” rap debate parameters. The lane he carved out defies description, which is another way of saying that “there is no father to his style.” Purists who wrote him off as a court jester, or rock critics who saw him as some kind of hip hop GG Allin, severely undervalued his talent.
There’s a reason Dirty was a focal point, onstage and on record, of the greatest rap collective in history. His fellow Wu members all vouch for his singular creative genius. It’s also not a coincidence that the group never truly recovered from ODB’s descent into addiction, imprisonment and, eventually, death.
What Dirty brought to the Wu was essential. There was no father to his style, and there will be no son. Now, 13 years after passing, Ol’ Dirty Bastard still shines.
As part of MASS APPEAL’s Wu-Tangsgiving Celebration, below are ODB’s 36 best solo cuts, meaning cuts from his solo albums, which may or not include other rappers, as well as solo cuts from soundtrack albums—but which will not include such memorable features as “Fantasy.” This list, and MASS APPEAL’s other Wu-related lists that follow, were assembled with curatorial guidance by hip hop consigliere and esteemed Wu-Tang scholar, Bönz Malone.