The Wu-Tang Clan were a phenomenon when they first hit the airwaves in 1993. Comprised of members from Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx, the Wu-Tang Clan provided the rough and ready New York kickback to the easygoing G-funk sound that Death Row was cultivating in L.A. However, some of the Clan’s members were more iconic than others, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard was one of the most legendary.
Formed in Staten Island by three relatives, the rap group went through various name and line-up changes before they became what we know as the Wu-Tang Clan today. The crew began as a conglomerate of family members before locals and friends entered the group. Originally consisting of just RZA, GZA and Ol Dirty Bastard (ODB), who are cousins, the collective was named Force of the Imperial Master.
While RZA permanently resided in the fairly desolate New York City borough of Staten Island, GZA moved back and forth between the island and Brooklyn before finally settling in Brooklyn as a teenager. His cousin, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (commonly known as ODB), also lived in the borough, so as a result, they formed a close bond.
Right from the start of the crew, RZA was the Clan’s primary producer. RZA brought a lo-fi production style that he skillfully fused with a grimey and abrasive edge. It was this sonic that would become the clan’s calling card. As the crew’s de facto leader, RZA suggested that they begin recruiting new members. Based out of Brooklyn’s Firehouse Studios, the crew went on to garner much attention. Their debut single, ‘Protect Ya Neck’ is a hip-hop classic. However, their single ‘C.R.E.A.M’ is often considered one of the best hip-hop tracks of all time and was even ranked the sixth best by the BBC, with ‘Juicy’ by Notorious B.I.G. being ranked number one.
Out of the crew members some were regarded higher than others. Raekwon and Method Man went on to have extremely successful careers as solo recording artists. However, before his death in 2004, ODB was, arguably, the most prosperous member of the collective following it’s slow but sure dissipation during the early 2000s. Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB) was known for his abrasive, direct delivery that could dissect and destroy even the most lyrical MCs.
Alongside his cousins, RZA and GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard was an integral figure with regard to the formation of the Wu-Tang Clan. Unlike many of the crew’s members, ODB was not from Staten Island but instead brought the raucousness of Brooklyn to the clan. Many of the clan’s members were profound lyricists. However, ODB brought dark humour, dynamism and a vigorous edge to the hip-hop that was welcome. From ‘I Got Your Money’ featuring Kelis to ‘Brooklyn Zoo’, ODB made some fantastic songs. However, one of his most iconic songs is his track ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’.
Release in 1995 as the second single from his debut album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, the RZA-produced track had a legendary Hype Williams music video to accompany it. It is so exceptional it was even ranked number 59 on VH1’s ‘100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop’ list. You can listen to the acapella for the track in the video below.