XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
Feb. 2, 1995: Today is the 28th anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard dropping his first single, “Brooklyn Zoo,” from his debut solo album, Return to the 36th Chambers: The Dirty Version, on Elektra Records. The 17-song collection features the late ODB‘s sporadicly infectious rap style and marked his ascension from Wu-Tang Clan founder to solo MC.
“Brooklyn Zoo,” produced by True Master and ODB, is backed by a simple piano medley, compromised of one vigorously long verse on which Dirty deems himself a “one-man army” and describes the savage streets of his home borough, Brooklyn, N.Y. The charismatic rhymer delivers a story of hip-hop hubris in his signature rap-sung fashion. This unusual execution introduced fans who were unfamiliar to the gritty, East Coast sound of ODB and the Staten Island rap collective he repped.
There were two separate visuals created for the single. The first was a short film with subtitles in which ODB played an ex-con named Pimp Daddy who gets caught up in the most outlandish of high crime drama. He blows up fireworks in Chinatown and is involved in a shootout in an old arcade. Although it showed off his crazy personality, many networks opted to play the second option, a music video that includes members of the Wu chilling in a dark, dank hallway while Ol’ Dirt spits.
Watch Ol Dirty Bastard’s “Brooklyn Zoo” Video (Chinatown Version)
“Brooklyn Zoo” would peaked at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 5 on the Hot Rap Songs tally. It eventually became Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s best-selling single and a bonafide street anthem for his hometown of Brooklyn.