Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
OL’ DIRTY BASTARD | Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version
Selected by Jesse Ducker
There’s never been another emcee like Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Russell Jones a.k.a. Ason Unique a.k.a. The ODB was a charging tornado of energy and chaos, who started his career running roughshod over tracks by the Wu-Tang Clan. He was one of the legendary crew’s first core members to sign a solo album deal, and the second to release a solo album. His debut work, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, is everything you could possibly expect from someone who specializes in doing the unexpected.
Fueled by alcohol, weed, and who knows what other illicit substances, ODB barrels through Return… like the proverbial bull in a China shop. Often he seems like he’s losing his mind on each song, like the iconic anthems “Brooklyn Zoo” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” Other times, he drops straight lyrical height, while mixing in touches of his unhinged flair, like on “The Stomp” or “Baby C’mon.” And sometimes he just recites dirty limericks. Or sings. Or makes noises with his throat. The album is a testament to the fact that there really wasn’t any father to ODB’s distinctive style.