Tag Archives: ol dirty bastard

Friday Random 10: Fading Spirits Edition


Sad news from Mars this week as NASA officials are openly questioning the future of the Spirit rover, which has been cruising the surface of the red planet for six years. It’s not out of batteries or anything. It’s just kind of, well, stuck:

In April, Spirit’s wheels broke through a hard crust on the Martian surface and encountered loosely packed fine sand beneath. Initial attempts to drive the rover out ended up with it instead sinking deeper into the trap.

Engineers set up a sand box at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and positioned a sister rover inside to try to figure out a way for Spirit to free itself.

“We’ve pretty much exhausted all the possibilities, all the things that we can do on the ground,” rover project manager John Callas told Discovery News.

With the cold Martian winter on its way, the Spirit could be in danger of dying if it can’t get out of the soft sand and toward the sun — where its solar panels could collect enough energy to keep it alive during the winter. I think I speak for all robot enthusiasts when I say “Beeeep boop, brave Spirit. Beep boop beeeeeep.”

The songs:

Save us S.O.S. — Hot Hot Heat
My Little Corner of the World — Yo La Tengo
Naked as a Window — Josh Ritter
Everybody Knows that You Are Insane — Queens of the Stone Age
Hold Time — M. Ward
Bright Lights — Pete and the Pirates
Dominos — The Big Pink
How To Fight Loneliness — Wilco
Your Southern Can is Mine — The White Stripes
Let’s Not Shit Ourselves — Bright Eyes

Bonus video:

Brooklyn Zoo — Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Kind of a requiem on the 5-year anniversary of his death)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


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ODB knew his mathematics

Pax Arcana

I think I speak for all suburban white children of the 90s when I say we never had any idea what the Wu Tang Clan was talking about. Sure, we liked their idiosyncratic stylings, but it’s not like we had Clue #1 what the organizational framework or meaning of their lyrics was.

odbMost rap at the time was about killing people, dealing drugs, or drinking Cristal in a helicopter. Wu Tang featured some of that, but they really specialized in vaguely mystical conjuring and an obsession with kung-fu movies.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard was particularly confusing. I never knew what the hell he was talking about, but he exuded a type of street preacher charm that defied logic and — to a certain degree — analysis.

However, this article in Slate answers some questions. A review of a new biography of ODB by Jaime Lowe, the article sheds some light on the upbringing that informed the rapper’s early life. Turns out he was born into a sort of urban religious cult that fused equal parts mysticism and pure crazy:

Born Russell Jones in Brooklyn in 1968, Dirty got the Five Percent knowledge from his cousin Popa Wu—the knowledge, that is, that there is no “mystery God” or supernatural deity, that the black man is the father of civilization and his own God, and that the human race breaks down into three percentages: the ignorant herd (85 percent), the exploiters (10 percent), and the enlightened (5 percent). Ornamenting these dogmas was the homegrown freemasonry of the Supreme Mathematics—a series of mystically interrelated numbers, letters, and verbal formulae on which the initiate would be tested and retested. The young Dirty must have been a devout student: Even at his mental nadir, decades later, the lessons stuck. “He could be high as hell,” ODB sidekick Buddha Monk tells Lowe, “and someone would ask him what’s today’s mathematics and he would know.”

That kind of thing was exactly what the Wu Tang Clan was built around:

Nine killer MCs pickled in late-night kung fu flicks, chess lore, Marvel comics, street life, weed cabbalism, and NGE slang eschatology—a hip-hop Middle Earth, with its own legends and grades of being. No other crew could match the sorcerous allure, the smoky Dungeons & Dragons vibe curling off those minimal Wu-Tang beats. “I lived in at least ten different projects,” wrote RZA in The Wu-Tang Manual, “and I got to see that the projects are a science project, in the same way that a prison is a science project. … And in comics, when a science project goes wrong, it produces monsters. Or superheroes.”


ODB’s adherence to quasi-religious folklore was evidenced in Wu Tang’s “Protect Ya Neck,” in which ODB references a story told by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad that “an evil scientist called Mr. Yacub created the white race by having his nurses stick needles in the brains of black babies.”

Under ordinary circumstances, goofy tenets like this are either frightening or outright comical. In the mind of ODB, though (he was diagnosed schizophrenic long after it would have done him any good) they congealed into a cacophony of outlandish lyrics governed by their own logic.

Or maybe he was just a crazy person shouting aggressive funny things into a microphone.

No Father to His Style [Slate]

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