Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version: #473 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return to the 36 Chambers

So why is Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

I give the reviewers at All Music a hard time sometimes, but Steve Huey does a fantastic job of summing up Russell Tyrone Jones – also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, ODB, Dirt McGirt, and Osiris – as the “dangerously unpredictable” element that formed a key element of the Wu-Tang Clan, with his signature mix of “comic relief,” “graphic vulgarity,” and “gonzo off-key warbling (which sounds like Biz Markie as a mental patient).”

Which is all to say that ODB ain’t for everyone. But I would strongly argue that the high highs that Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, ODB’s solo album debut, reaches make for a thrilling, head bobbing, and certainly at times bizarre experience.

“Shimmy Shimmy Ya” somehow feels like it’s an update to an obscure dance hit from the 1970s (it’s not) and conjured by a society based on the Core Principles of warped hip hop and funk (maybe it was?) at the same time. Which is to say it’s a nearly mind blowing blast of wacko hip hop energy. And if your brain doesn’t know what to do with it, that’s totally fine: you can simply kick back and sing along to the SHIMMY SHIMMY YAs and OOH BABYs.

And that odd catchy tinkling piano riff is weirdly timeless too, right?

I enjoyed the description of the “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” music video from Wikipedia:

A music video was created for the song, directed by Hype Williams. The video shows a depiction of the 1970s, in which large afros and platform shoes were considered fashionable.

“Brooklyn Zoo” might be the perfect litmus test for how deep you’re willing to go with Mr. McGirt. It’s kind of jazzy but like a dissonant jazz that, when mapped against a hip hop beat, somehow becomes oddly exciting and catchy. ODB then curses rather, uh, aggressively before segueing into doing his rap game, which includes sing-song-y bits, shouting, lots more of the cussin’, and surprisingly clever jokes and witticisms thrown in for good measure.

“Proteck Ya Neck II” is something of a wildly exciting update to the Wu-Tang classic track. The sort of Western-meets-Asian marital arts film soundtrack vibe brings Wu-Tang 2.0: Now With Even More Zest vibes. This is vintage RZA production, of course.

Speaking of, he’s not credited on “Cuttin’ Headz,” but this one is really a rapping duet between RZA and ODB. It’s a much quieter track, relatively speaking, and feels like a hip hop conversation between two Wu-Tang legends. Most importantly, it’s exceptionally well produced and really enjoyable.

Some stats & info about Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version released? 1994
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #473 out of 1,000

Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Shimmy shimmy ya, shimmy yam, shimmy yay, gimme the mic so I can take it away.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.