According to Variety, the lawsuit claims Wu-Tang Productions (operated by ODB’s cousin and Wu-Tang’s de facto leader RZA) didn’t pay royalties to the ODB estate from 2011 until July 2021, when it sent a check for $130,000.
The estate did admit it received some payments from Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. in 2019 and 2020, but the combined payments aren’t enough to settle the alleged debt. The complaint points to a 1992 recording agreement, under which the late Big Baby Jesus was to be paid 50 percent of net earnings on the publishing of his copyrighted songs.
The other members of Wu-Tang — RZA, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, GZA, Killah Priest, U-God, Cappadonna and Method Man — were also to split 50 percent of net earnings from the sound recordings. Jones is seeking royalties from merchandising and videos in addition to damages of at least $1 million, plus interest, attorneys’ fees and costs.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard died of an accidental drug overdose in November 2004, just two days before his 36th birthday. In addition to his contributions to the first three Wu-Tang Clan albums, he also made some classic solo songs along the way, including “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” “Brooklyn Zoo” and “Got Your Money” featuring Kelis.
In a November 2021 interview with MIC, RZA was discussing the Sasha Jenkins documentary Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mice and Men and the popular Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga when he confirmed the ODB biopic is in the works.
“The documentary was to capture the story as best we can in the reality of it, and then the TV series was to dramatize it,” he said at the time. “The third tier of the plan, which I’m in progress of, is an ODB movie biopic. Like the five-year Wu-Tang plan, this was a five-year media plan that I concocted, I meditated on, and I’m striving to live out. So far, it’s working well.”