DAR Hip Hop: ODB's Return To The 36 Chambers

Introduction by @TrueGodImmortal 

The Wu Tang Clan is perhaps known as the greatest hip hop group of all time. Their members have similar yet diverse styles and personalities that have all meshed together to create something legendary over the years. The most eccentric and outlandish member was always Russell Jones, better known as the Ol' Dirty Bastard. ODB was a show stealer on guest appearances and group songs, so it was only right in 1995 that he released his first solo album " Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version". Today, we take a look back at the album that nearly 21 years ago had the whole world singing "Ooh baby, I like it RAWWWWWW", a feat only ODB could accomplish. Let's get into it.

1. Intro 
2. Shimmy Shimmy Ya
3. Baby C'mon
4. Brooklyn Zoo 
5. Hippa to the Hoppa
6. Raw Hide
7. Damage 
8. Don't You Know 
9. The Stomp 
10. Goin' Down
11. Drunk Game (Sweet Sugar Pie)
12. Snakes
13. Brooklyn Zoo II
14. Protect Your Neck II The Zoo
15. Cuttin' Headz
16. Dirty Dancin
17. Harlem World

Ol' Dirty Bastard's first solo LP. Some people regard it as a classic and some say it's just a mess, when in fact, it's both. Return To The 36 is a bit of a paradox. It features some of the worst MC-ing of all time, and weak production, yet it tends to come out sounding nice. There's not a real way to explain ODB's style, the dude is a one of a kind. The easiest way to explain it maybe is its him kinda rapping while kinda singing. Anyways to the album, I give this album an 8/10. Not perfect, it could be better, but it is definitely great, with the production, beats, lyrics, and flow is all just amazing. I can't really pick a favorite song cause they're all great to me, I don't like any one more than the other and I don't have a least favorite. I don't know if I can call this album a classic, but it sure is close.

I don't know what else I can say that hasn't already been said without parroting everyone else's opinion. So, shrug it. Let's get the parroting underway.

It's a classic project that holds up amazingly 20-plus years later, partly because of the catchiness of ODB's singles and the lyrical awesomeness which makes up everything that isn't "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." Which, speaking of, "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" is possibly one of the greatest party songs ever.

It's ODB's best and most-influential project. It's influenced my own sound and I even based the eccentricities of Songs For off of it (down to, in its first form, using a similar cover as an homage).

It opened listeners' eyes and ears to the most-off-the-wall Wu member. The production was top notch, showcasing some pretty obscure samples used in crazy ways. Go listen to that sumbitch. Thrice.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard, affectionately known as ODB, was truly one of a kind. He was the second member from the Wu-Tang clan to release a solo project. His distinctive voice could easily be identified and added a certain special something to Hip Hop.

His debut album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, was like an extended Wu-Tang project to me. There were so many features and production from the group’s members that it could have been classified as such. RZA was all over that album and it was evident. ODB came with a different sound. In 1995, Hip Hop was gold and ODB’s album added to that. He was original and animated from track to track. It was hardcore and unapologetic.

“Ooh, baby, I like it raw” still haunts the ears of Hip Hop fans everywhere. “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” had an authentic rap sound to it. I think that’s what I appreciated most about it. ODB spoke from real life situations, especially on “Brooklyn Zoo.”  He wasn’t afraid to go where other artists wouldn’t. I know New Yorkers were proud to blast this on a regular basis. This album showed more of ODB’s character and allowed fans to appreciate his role in the Wu-Tang clan. We saw what he brought to the picture when he was in his own lane. Even though he was compared to Method Man, ODB held his own on this album.

“Snakes” has to be one of my favorites on this album. Killah Priest, RZA, Masta Killa, and Buddah Monk joined ODB on this track. Every person provided a different view point and did it in his own style. That’s what makes the song special to me. I imagine this song to be something like a cypher. When ODB comes in on his verse, he adds a bit of hysteria to the song.

The album received a Grammy nomination and deservedly so. I wonder if ODB would be active in today’s rap game. We were able to experience him in his prime and that’s always going to be dope to me.

Return To The 36 Chambers is arguably top 3 albums ever by a member in the Wu-Tang Clan. The production is raw, and ODB's lyricism is tremendous. His delivery was very unique, and it was a pretty funny in a way. He half rapped and half sung this album, which I thought was cool. Two of my favorite tracks on the album are of course "Brooklyn Zoo", & "Hippa To Da Hoppa". Almost the entire album was produced by the legendary producer RZA, which made the album even more enjoyable. It's also a gold selling album. However, I can't consider it a classic, simply because it's never really in that classic discussion. Great album though.

The man who was born Russell Jones, but acquired 11 nicknames throughout his rap career with the most famous being Ol' Dirty Bastard. The man who had the most unique and recognizable rap style of anyone at the time (and one who still to this day is unmatched) would release one of the best solo albums put out by a Wu member. "Return To The 36 Chambers". If I had to sum this entire album up in 3 words I'd say: Raw. Explicit.  Aggressive. We heard ODB on "Enter The 36 chambers" and Wu fans loved him for exactly those things and this album was an extension of all of that. In and around the time of recording/release, ODB was a mess, but nevertheless he gave us an excellent album.

Although this was produced primarily by the RZA, ODB himself had a few tracks he helped produce as well. This album really allowed ODB's personality and uniqueness to shine. He features his fellow Wu members GZA, Rae, Meth, Killah Priest and even Ghost, which is a bonus for any Wu fan! My favorite track on here is "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" simply because it comes perfectly put together in true Wu-Tang form with a martial arts sample, piano instrumental and ODB's crazy ass rap style. The way he rapped "give me the mic so I can take it away" or "psycho killa like Norman Bates" was the epitome of his signature craziness. And of course, the incredibly famous "ooh baby I like it raw" which was the most repeated and often overused line in '95. As I mentioned, ODB producing some tracks would prove to be a payoff since the song "Brooklyn Zoo" is one of the best tracks overall. He also included "Brooklyn Zoo II" with Ghostface, which was great. I also love that this album includes "Protect Ya Neck II The Zoo". Everything on this album is very cohesive with the "Return Of 36 chambers" theme, from beats to production to lyrics, this album is extremely solid. Production wise it's fantastic as it had very "36 Chambers" like beats, which was appropriate given the title, but with a more unique and "gritty" edge. That's exactly what you want from this guy.

This is easily top 3 best solo releases from the Wu, it's just incredibly unfortunate that ODB passed away before he could really create an extensive catalog. His style, crazy antics and random outburst whether on wax or at let's say the Grammy's are definitely missed!! RIP!



Popular Posts