NEW YORK (AP) — The rap artist O.D.B., whose utterly unique rhymes, wild lifestyle and incessant legal troubles made him one of the most vivid characters in hip-hop, collapsed and died inside a recording studio Saturday. He was 35.
O.D.B. had complained of chest pains before collapsing at the Manhattan studio, and was dead by the time paramedics arrived, said Gabe Tesoriero, a spokesman for O.D.B.’s record label, Roc-a-Fella.
The cause of death was not immediately clear, but O.D.B. had recently finished a prison sentence for drug possession and escaping a rehab clinic. He would have turned 36 on Monday.
O.D.B., also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Dirt McGirt, Big Baby Jesus or his legal name of Russell Jones — was a founding member of the seminal rap group the Wu-Tang Clan in the early 1990s. With his unorthodox delivery — alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical — O.D.B. stood out even in the nine-man Clan, which featured such future stars as Method Man, RZA and Ghostface Killah.
The Wu-Tang blueprint was for each member to pursue solo projects, and O.D.B.’s were among the best. He released hit singles such as “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Got Your Money,” and appeared on remixes with artists like Mariah Carey.