17 Songs, 1 Hour 7 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Beyond his outrageous antics, his erratic career decisions, and even his association with the mighty Wu-Tang Clan, the most crucial thing to remember about Ol’ Dirty Bastard is that he was a natural-born rapper. He didn’t need a concept; he didn’t even need a pad and paper. Rhymes flowed out of him like water from a spigot. As time goes on it becomes easier to recognize Return to the 36 Chambers for the masterpiece that it is. Simply put, there is no other album in hip-hop that sounds like this. It is full of hunchbacked rhythm and startling sonic turns. Equally important to ODB’s rhymes is his delivery — the grunts and groans and shrieks are what make his flow so singular, and so thrilling. Because ODB had the most extraordinary style of any Wu-Tang member, the RZA gave him beats that are equally extraordinary. Claustrophobic, disjointed, dizzy — nothing about “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” or “Baby C’mon” or “Raw Hide” adheres to a normative POV. Force yourself to read between the lines of Return to the 36 Chambers, and you will be rewarded with one of rap’s most imaginative and deeply personal statements.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Beyond his outrageous antics, his erratic career decisions, and even his association with the mighty Wu-Tang Clan, the most crucial thing to remember about Ol’ Dirty Bastard is that he was a natural-born rapper. He didn’t need a concept; he didn’t even need a pad and paper. Rhymes flowed out of him like water from a spigot. As time goes on it becomes easier to recognize Return to the 36 Chambers for the masterpiece that it is. Simply put, there is no other album in hip-hop that sounds like this. It is full of hunchbacked rhythm and startling sonic turns. Equally important to ODB’s rhymes is his delivery — the grunts and groans and shrieks are what make his flow so singular, and so thrilling. Because ODB had the most extraordinary style of any Wu-Tang member, the RZA gave him beats that are equally extraordinary. Claustrophobic, disjointed, dizzy — nothing about “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” or “Baby C’mon” or “Raw Hide” adheres to a normative POV. Force yourself to read between the lines of Return to the 36 Chambers, and you will be rewarded with one of rap’s most imaginative and deeply personal statements.

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