A Look Into The Tragic Death Of ODB

New York-born rapper and producer ODB (an abbreviation of stage name Ol' Dirty Bastard) is upheld as a part of one of the greatest collectives in rap history, Wu-Tang Clan, which is responsible for hip-hop classics such as Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and Wu-Tang Forever. ODB is credited specifically for his distinctive vocal range, wild style, and flairs for both the dramatic and comical, notably his "outrageously profane, free-associative rhymes delivered in a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style," according to All Music.

With a stage name derived from 1980's Chinese martial arts film Ol' Dirty and the Bastard, ODB (born Russell Jones) helped form Wu-Tang Clan along with cousins Robert Diggs and Gary Grice, both of whom shared Jones' penchant for martial arts movies and rap music. Also going by stage names Dirt McGirt, Osirus, and Big Baby Jesus, ODB shined on Wu-Tang tracks such as "Protect Ya Neck," as well as solo singles like "Got Your Money," scoring three Grammy Award nominations in the late 1990s along the way.

ODB's death was ruled a tragic accident

Per NME, several days before his 36th birthday in November 2004, ODB was at a Midtown recording studio working on his fourth solo album when he suddenly collapsed outside the studio around 4:35 in the afternoon. By the time paramedics arrived, the rapper was already dead.

A few weeks later, the New York City medical examiner released the results of an autopsy. The official cause of death was a lethal combination of cocaine and Tramadol (a prescription painkiller), which brought on the vibrant rapper's sudden cardiac arrest. The death was ruled an accident, with witnesses claiming the musician complained of chest pain earlier that day.

A funeral was held at Brooklyn's Christian Cultural Center and garnered a crowd of thousands of fans. Relative RZA mourned the fellow rapper's death in a 2009 book, The Tao of Wu: "People may not know this from the outrageous character he played, but ODB was a visionary. But he decayed, he lost that vision."