On his 1995 gold-selling debut, Return To The 36 Chambers, Ol’ Dirty Bastard rhymed, “Who the fuck wanna be an emcee if you can’t get paid to be a fuckin’ emcee?” It’s a credo that was apparently passed down to his son, as Young Dirty Bastard sparked a minor controversy when his family issued a cease and desist order on a planned hologram of ODB at this year’s “Rock The Bells” featival.
“Me and my mom was very, very pissed off at how things was going at first,” YDB noted, during an interview at HipHopDX’s offices. “Then Chang came up and said, ‘Look, I’m gonna share this with y’all. We ain’t gonna do y’all over or crush your lives and your world. We’re just gonna put y’all together with ‘Rock The Bells.’ I saw a partnership and an alliance, and that’s what I want to build in the future.”
The partnership was formed, and YDB helped kick off what could best be described as a less than ideal performance during the Los Angeles leg of “Rock The Bells.” In the weeks leading up to the performance, Young Dirty Bastard visited HipHopDX and hinted at eschewing a hologram crafted after his father in favor of his own digitally imposed stand-in. He also shared memories of ODB, and his own introduction to Hip Hop.
But perhaps more telling than any hologram or statement from the 24-year-old himself were his actions. As one would expect, YDB is challenged with both carving out his own path while carrying the legacy of his father, his family and the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. And all of this has to be done while he still helps support his family—including his own two children. It’s just like his father once said, “Who the fuck wanna be an emcee if you can’t get paid to be a fuckin’ emcee?”
Young Dirty Bastard Recalls 50 Cent’s Influence On Him
HipHopDX: What’s the first rhyme you remember writing?
Young Dirty Bastard: The first rhyme I wrote? I don’t know, because I really liked 50 Cent back then. I’m gonna be real with everybody; 50 Cent was a great rapper because he… I don’t want to call what he did a gimmick, but a gimmick in Hollywood is the best thing you can have. My braids stick up, and people say it’s my gimmick. Some people talk about guns, and some people get a lot of connections. My manager is looking at me right now with crossed fingers like, “Oh shit. Don’t say nothing crazy.” But nah, 50 Cent used being gangsta as his gimmick, and the whole world was drawn to it. I was even drawn to it, and I didn’t even know what a gangsta was at that time. He showed me on TV what a gangsta was, and now they got people dying in the streets [laughs]. I love 50 Cent, and he kind of had me hypnotized. But every time I bought a G-Unit album, my mother took it away, G. She knew it was hypnotizing me and fucking me up in the head. Wu-Tang is for the babies, and some music is not. Some music will fuck your children up forever.
DX: So your first rhymes were you emulating 50?
Young Dirty Bastard: Nah, but at the time all my friends were. They were saying, “G-G-G-G-Unit!” and all that crazy shit [laughs]. We were all 13 and 14, emulating him and smoking weed. We didn’t know what was going on, and we were trying to rob people. All that for no reason! My mommy is giving me money, and I’m trying to rob you. I don’t have no reason to rob you. I got on new Nike’s and all that. That’s what he would do to your mind; you’d go outside yourself and your district for no reason. That’s what hypnotizing does. But I love the world. People are gonna be scared to talk about certain things, but I love 50 Cent. Give me a deal, man. Let’s sit at the table, and we could talk about all kinds of controversial shit.
DX: Do you still smoke weed?
Young Dirty Bastard: Nope, I can’t. I’m allergic to weed, and I’m allergic to liquor sometimes.
YDB On Avoiding Drugs, Alcohol & Homophobia
DX: You’re allergic to weed and alcohol, really?
Young Dirty Bastard: Yeah, the liquor gives me pains in my sides after I drink it. So I can’t drink it obviously. It’s fun at that moment, but then I go home and feel the pain. And the weed makes me sick, because it makes me slow. If I take one pull, it speeds everything up, and I can make a hundred deals. But if I smoke too much of it, it’s Kryptonite.
DX: So the energy you have is just natural?
Young Dirty Bastard: Word. I don’t need any of them other substances. They feel good though. But I don’t need it.
DX: When you go to the club, you don’t drink?
Young Dirty Bastard: I mean, If I want Henny, I’m going to drink some Henny. So I get me a big deal. You know what I’m saying? But I don’t really like drinking at all. Just ‘cause, like I said, it hurts me: it’s poison. It feels like it’s straight alcohol burning whatever’s over on this side.
DX: Do you party? What’s a night out with YDB like?
Young Dirty Bastard: I went to a club one Saturday night, and I walked into the wrong fuckin’ club. There weren’t too many ladies in there, and I started to notice. Right on the side of me, were two guys booty shaking. I thought about it for a few minutes, because I was with my girls, and they were thinking something else. I thought, “Now, these people don’t have a choice in what they’re doing. At the same time, it can’t be wrong or right, because no one’s pointing the finger.” If it ain’t nobody flying over us right now saying what’s wrong or right, then fuck their opinion. Some of that shit we don’t have a choice in; we just move because the creator told us to move that way. So I believe y’all can do what y’all wanna do. I have a cousin that’s gay, and his name is Papi. What I’m trying to say to you is, there’s nothing wrong with gay people. I’m down for anything y’all down for, but I like women. Peace. Don’t erase that part.
How Reality TV Brought YDB’s Family Closer
DX: Aside from performing, what are you working on?
Young Dirty Bastard: I’ve got “Food Stamp Celebrity Volume 2,” and we could talk about my upcoming single, “House.” It’s a lot more like something from New York, but I’m trying to take it worldwide. My father was on a global phenomenon thing, and the whole world new my pops. That’s what I’m trying to give to y’all—something different that will reach the pyramids. I’ve also got a song called “One Finger Up.” I start off putting one finger up and having everybody follow me, and then it goes into a Hip Hop level. That’s where it’s more about lyrics.
DX: I’ve seen pieces of the pilot for your reality show with your sisters…
Young Dirty Bastard: Oh yeah, my sisters are beautiful creatures. They’re here in my kingdom. What have you heard?
DX: In one, your manager was giving you advice about…
Young Dirty Bastard: Oh, I know where you’re going. You’re talking about the TV show. We’ve got a TV show coming on VH1, and it’s called “The House That Dirty Built.” We’re still playing with a few names, and I have a big family in the house. You’ve got grandma, and she’s the meanest…not delightful. She’s the one that will sit in her room, come out the cave and bite your ass in the kitchen. Then there’s grandpa, and he just looks through all the mail. He’ll pick up your mail and be able to tell if it’s a bill. Even if there’s only a few nickels inside, he’ll know. Then there’s Taniqua—she’s a little chubby, she’s trying to be a model, and she’s trying to be my manager. You can’t be my damn manager! That’s Taniqua. And we got little Shaquita; she works at Walmart, and she pays all the bills for the house! She’s just the cash register [laughs]. She’s employee of the damn month, so big ups to Shaquita. Uncle Anthony lives in the garage, and he ain’t got no windows in his room. How does he breathe in that mothafucka? He’ll steal all your shit. And I got my little brother, C’Ason. He’s a brother from another father, and you know how that works and shit. Mommy love people. Then there’s me; Young Dirty Bastard—the hope of the family. My sister is holding down the house with her money right now, but I’m trying to build an empire. And we got my dog, and I pee on him a lot. Sorry to all the veterinarians out there. That didn’t have nothing to do with nothing.
But I got two babies—Earth and Wisdom. They’re the beautifullest people that I know in my life. They just started school, they wear afros and their heritage is Mexican and Black. They’re not mutts. I’m a little dominant, so I took the mutt out. That’s all I want to say about that. It’s gonna be a great TV show; it’s a bunch of ruckus. It’s crazy.
How Chang Weisberg & The Jones Family Reconciled For “Rock The Bells”
DX: You don’t remember this, but I do. The first time we met was on the subway in 2011, getting off the 1 Train to Governor’s Island for “Rock The Bells.” What does it mean to rock at “Rock The Bells” this year while your father’s virtual performance?
Young Dirty Bastard: It means everything to someone who didn’t see my father in the past and someone who has never seen me. For me, it means another step into a legacy. It’s something that we got to build—me and my family. I’ve got a whole bunch of my family. Roaches spread around crazy. So I’ve got a whole bunch of natives, but only a few of us could be there to see this. This opportunity is going to be good for us, and it means so much for the world too.
DX: Is there pressure on you to uphold everything that your father gave to the world?
Young Dirty Bastard: It used to be pressure, because people be asking me a thousand fucking questions, like he is [laughs]. Nah, I’m playing with you, Justin. But it was always going to be pressure when something is in a bubble and it causes combustion. Boom! That’s what’s happening. I’m learning how to stop that from happening…blowing up. The man at the top, sitting above the umbrella wants me to blow up and just go crazy. He wants me to act a fool, but I’m going to continue myself and make sure it’s no pressure so none of you funny people think I’m funny.
DX: How did you first hear about the Eazy-E and ODB virtual performances for Rock The Bells?
Young Dirty Bastard: I heard about Eazy-E and his children, but I didn’t know they were going to do it. Both of his sons are doing it, and he probably got more children. My father had a lot of children too. What most women don’t understand is a man has children for a reason—so we won’t be left alone. We have a lot, we spread our youth, and some people just keep they youth in one house. I spread it everywhere, so every woman would understand that I’m a king. You know, that’s how I do things, and it makes sense. The only way you can spread your empire, is to have a bunch of Eazy-E babies and a bunch of Ol’ Dirty Bastard babies. That’s how you do it. When I heard about the Eazy-E thing, I thought, “I’m going to be close and nearby to someone of legendary status.” Right now, we’re mythical creatures on the planet. Most people can’t see us, but right now you see me.
DX: Were you surprised at the way “Rock The Bells” announced the lineup?
Young Dirty Bastard: When they first announced it…when I ain’t know about them announcing it? Yeah, I was very surprised when “Rock The Bells” announced it. Thank you [“Rock The Bells” founder] Chang [Weisberg] for not telling me the first time. But, we finally met up. He flew me out here, brought me into his brotherhood. Mr. Chang, thank you, sir. And you know, me and my mom was very, very pissed off at how things was going at first. Then Chang came up and said, “Look, I’m gonna share this with y’all. We ain’t gonna do y’all over or crush your lives and your world. We’re just gonna put y’all together with ‘Rock The Bells.’”
I saw a partnership and an alliance, and that’s what I want to build in the future. You can’t go around some things until you meet the captain of team. They tried to go around us, but I said, “Listen, sir. I think we should sit down and talk like men.” So I love you, Chang. We’re gonna do big things together.
DX: But you’re also performing this year, right?
Young Dirty Bastard: Yeah, I’m performing, and it’s gonna be crazy. I’m a great performer, by the way. I was just upstairs on the Hollywood roof performing, and I’m the best actor in the world. True indeed, I’m the best actor in the world.
DX: You’ve got one of my favorite lines of the month, “I ain’t tryin’ to fight crime / No time to end up dead…” Where did that come from?
Young Dirty Bastard: That came from a bunch of movies and stuff. Have you ever seen Kick Ass? Them niggas was fighting crime, and they was getting beat up, son [laughs]. I ain’t trying to end up like that, and that was just a movie! If you go around dressed up in some Hollywood banana outfit, you’ll get shot. A fuckin’ bullet will go straight through that banana. It’s real, so I’m not trying to do all that. I’m trying to be alive, because I got children to feed. Think about it, you can try to fight forever, but you only got 100 years to fight. Who are you fighting for?
DX: What are your earliest memories of Wu-Tang?
Young Dirty Bastard: See, I was born into the Wu-Tang lineage, so I never really understood someone asking me if I’m a part of it. I was in a pamper when they was rappin’. So I was like, “Okay, this is all I do. I just shake my ass in this dirty pamper, and they make the music while I get the money.” That’s what I was about. To me, Wu-Tang are like brothers. They just have to keep coming to me when they have opportunities. Don’t leave a brother out!
DX: At one point, a few of you from the next generation of Wu-Tang were talking about collaborating, right?
Young Dirty Bastard: Yeah, me and Sun God. Sun God is a beast, and we actually did all of this over GMail. I respect that, because we all live in different places—Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx. It’s crazy, so we just send each other GMail. I also met Big Pun’s son, Christopher Rivers at Shade 45 Radio. He actually had an interview before me, so it was like, “Oh shit, we’re actually meeting at a destined time. His interview was right before mine. What does that mean?” That means we’re about to be some big shit. I mean big, big dog shit, and it’s gonna be hard for y’all to get out of it. Remember when the dinosaur shitted in the movie Jurassic Park?
DX: Yeah, it was like the size of an SUV…
Young Dirty Bastard: It was some big shit! That’s the type of shit I’m talking about. It’s gonna be some big shit.
YDB Says The Spirit Of Ol’ Dirty Bastard Is In Him
DX: The 20-year anniversary of Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers is coming up…
Young Dirty Bastard: Yeah, my father’s not here to be in this light. So, hmm…how do we talk about that? I’ve only been alive on this planet for 24 years, so how do I feel about this 20-year anniversary? I feel like the babies on this planet are gonna witness something. Have you ever seen a baby pick up a phone?
Young Dirty Bastard: Before, we was in class trying to figure out how to use computers. How long did that take?
DX: Probably a few weeks.
Young Dirty Bastard: Yeah, but a baby can pick up your phone and figure out how to use your whole device like that. They’re taking pictures on it and all kinds of shit. So what I’m saying is, the babies on the planet are gonna see the hologram and pick up on it. They’re gonna steal my shit and make it tomorrow. It’ll be a better tomorrow, and that’s how I think about it. It’s all about the youth programming themselves very quickly without you teaching them. We’re moving at a quick mothafuckin’ pace.
DX: Is this [career] natural for you? Did you always want to be an emcee?
Young Dirty Bastard: Actually, I wanted to be a rapper until my dad said, “You can’t rap.” I was in his room at my grandma Cherry’s house, and he let me in his room. I had my little rhyme book and shit with my name on it and all that. I brought it to him, and before he even heard me rap, he said, “I know what this looks like…I know what you’re trying to do. He crossed his legs like this and goes, “You can’t rap!” It’s like, “Damn. I didn’t even get a chance to do a two-step.” He ain’t see me do anything. He broke my dreams. Guess what that made me do? Rap even harder. So that’s why I’m here right now, because my father told me I couldn’t rap.
When your father says you can’t rap like he does—I can’t milk the cow like he did on the farm—what else am I supposed to do? Now I gotta make up a whole new cycle of life for myself. You know what he did to me? So, therefore I had to rap, and I had to be better than him. How the fuck do you do that? What you do is mentally get yourself prepared. You sit down with a notebook and think about the world. You tell yourself, “It’s a lot of opportunities, but everything can’t be proven at once.”
So this has been 24 years of my little cycle that I’ve had to prove to my father that I can rap. Now I’m about to do the hologram for this mothafucka, and he told me I couldn’t rap. This nigga! I’m rapping on stage with the hologram, daddy! Now I can rap, and I’m gonna prove to the whole world I can rap. He told me I couldn’t rap, so it made me want to rap. I think he was a scientist on that one, because there was this interview where he said, “There’s gonna be a new ODB.” Then he tells me I can’t rap. Who else gonna come back and be a new ODB, nigga? Obama? Obama might love my father’s music, but they ain’t gonna be rapping. They ain’t gonna let him do that shit in the office. They’d kick that nigga right off the podium! They’d chain him up, and kick him out the back of the White House as soon as he started singing, “Ooh baby, I like it raw.”
DX: What’s your favorite album by your father?
Young Dirty Bastard: Return To The 36 Chambers. That’s the only one I know. I heard all of them probably a hundred times, but as soon as my father passed away, I had a black out. I don’t remember a lot of the conversations I had with him, but I knew something happened the night he passed away. He was smoking…let the world know this. My father was smoking right next to me when he passed away, and he was a good man. He did this for a reason. It’s some sort of tradition, and the Egyptians used to do it. Basically, his spirit jumped into me at the time of his passing…the same night. That’s why I can do and mimic everything he did. Everything—even the hologram. I didn’t have to put them [motion capture] dots on my forehead. They might just wanna use my face. I mimic everything he did, and I’m just saying it’s pretty cool.
DX: Have you ever talked to Dame Dash?
Young Dirty Bastard: Dame Dash…he’s a good guy. See those helicopters? They’re looking for Dame Dash right now. I see that big light, and I’m looking for him too. I just want to talk business. I don’t wanna do what they wanna do to you. They probably want to throw you in a jail. Before they throw you away, just give me my dad’s masters back. I’ll be very, very pleased with that, and we can talk about further due conversations.