Autopsy: Rapper O.D.B. Had Drug Overdose

Autopsy: Rapper O.D.B. Had Drug Overdose (AP)

Photo: The death of rapper O.D.B. was deemed an accident by the medical examiner, who said Wednesday that he died from the combined effects of cocaine and a prescription painkiller. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin ll) The death of rapper O.D.B. was deemed an accident by the medical examiner, who said Wednesday that he died from the combined effects of cocaine and a prescription painkiller. O.D.B., whose legal name was Russell Jones, died at a Manhattan recording studio Nov. 13. He died “as a result of intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and Tramadol, a prescription painkiller but not a narcotic,” said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office. “The manner of death is an accident,” she added.

O.D.B. complained of chest pains before collapsing at the studio, and was dead by the time paramedics reached him. He was just days short of his 36th birthday.

O.D.B., also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, was a founding member of the rap group the Wu-Tang Clan. With his unorthodox delivery — alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical — O.D.B. stood out even in the nine-man Clan, and as a solo artist he released hit singles such as “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Got Your Money.” He had been working on his comeback album for more than a year and was almost finished.

O.D.B. was the latest in a string of rappers to meet an untimely death, among them Jam Master Jay of Run DMC, who was fatally shot in late 2002, and Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, who were both shot to death in the late 1990s. Those killings remain unsolved.

This is hardly shocking, to say the least.

I don’t quite understand why dying as a result of criminal stupidity is “an accident.” It’s not as if the cocaine was blown up his nose during a freak occurence. “Oops” hardly seems the appropriate response to this:

A mourner pays his respects to rapper Russell Jones, otherwise known as 'Ol' Dirty Bastard' ( O.D.B ), before his funeral November 18, 2004 in New York. Jones, a founding member of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan, collapsed and died inside a New York recording studio on Nov. 13. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JakeV says:

    It’s called an accident if you die because you drove recklessy. Seems pretty comparable to me.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Was there a similar story here when John Entwhistle or Bobby Hatfield died as a result of drug use? Or is this just more discourse about evil scary black folks on drugs?

  3. Bithead says:

    anjin-san,
    Before you start in with the knee-jerk racist comments,(And yes, racism IS the charge you’re making here, under it’s rather thin veil) let’s break this out just a bit.

    Consider the state of welfare in this country. There are, by far, more white poeple on welfare than black people. That’s documented fact, and the numbers are overwhelming.

    Yet, when welfare cuts are considered, the usual cry from the race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and (Insert far leftist Democrat here) is that it’s an attack on black people, because they’re affected in larger per capita numbers within their sub-group.

    If that’s a valid point, then how can pointing to a demonstrable link between a mode of death, and a chosen lifestyle, such as hip-hop, be considered INvalid?

    The fact is, that hip-hoppers are by far more likely to die a rather grusome and senseless deaths, and tend to pride themselves on it, in their ‘music’.

  4. James Joyner says:

    A-S

    Entwhistle died several months before I started the blog and I had never heard of Hatfield–although I was of course familiar with his group the Righteous Brothers. The deaths of men in their 50s and 60s is less noteworthy than of those in their early thirties, regardless.

  5. David Harris says:

    I think if you die of anything other than natural causes or the malicious acts of someone else, it’s generally considered an accident. If a guy plummets to his death while dancing on top of a rickety ladder, it’s still probably going to be called an “accident.” The fact that there are a disproportionate number of rickety ladder-dancers in the hip-hop community is another issue.

  6. anjin-san says:

    James,

    My point is that drug addiction is no respecter of race (or anything else, for that matter), and that the lifestyle led by professional entertainers of any race has a very high attrition rate. When a young white man like Kurt Cobain blew his head off with a shotgun, I can recall no general outcry against grunge music. It was more like “what a shame such a gifted guy was so confused”.

    I am not pointing the finger at you specifically. My oldest friend is black, we have been hanging out for more then 40 years. Yet when I see a group of young black men coming my way, I give them a harder look then I would a similar group of young white men. Why? I have gotten about a billion messages via the media that young black men are scary.

    All I am saying is that we should all be aware of our feelings on this issue. In my class in high school one black kid grew up to be an astronaut, another is one of the most prominient physicians in Northern California. I wish they got as much press as a rapper who died of an overdose…

  7. Bithead says:

    All I am saying is that we should all be aware of our feelings on this issue. In my class in high school one black kid grew up to be an astronaut, another is one of the most prominient physicians in Northern California. I wish they got as much press as a rapper who died of an overdose…

    So do I.
    Then again, the problem is one of percentages.
    Perhaps they’re getting more pres because it HAPPENS more.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Bithead,

    Please refer to the comments on the thread regarding the tragic death of Darrell Abbott. Do you see even one post that mentions the extreamly violent nature of metal?

    Any comments about how listening to music that glorifies violence & destruction might be bad for someone who is allready unbalanced?

    When Jim Morrison drank & drugged himself to death he became a tragic figure. When a rapper does it, its more like, what can you expect from them…

  9. anjin-san says:

    Bithead

    >Then again, the problem is one of percentages.
    Perhaps they’re getting more pres because it HAPPENS more.

    Are you saying there are more dead rappers then sucessful black doctors? Please clarify…

  10. McGehee says:

    I’m lost. Anjin-san, how is this Rumsfeld’s fault?

  11. anjin-san says:

    McGehee,

    Having another slow day in the ol’ cerebral cortex?

    🙂

  12. Bithead says:

    You’re not really going to argue that this is not happening in disproportionate numbers among young blacks, are you now?

    (sigh) Well, now, let’s see.

    Can you point to a longish line of dead metal heads? Can you tell me the last time a metal star was killed by another? No?

    Don’t feel bad…Neither can I.

    And I tend to doubt this difference is due to the press sheilding them. Rather, that it ocurrs less per capita inside the respective group, than it does in the group under discussion.

    I wrote right after the knife fight at the ‘Vibe” awards:

    Can anyone come up with big name Jazz acts having this kind of reputation? Bigtime Rock acts? When’s the last time we heard of a knife fight at the Philharmonic? I don’t recall anything like this at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in all the years that’s been running, do you? I’ve been unable to find records of anything of the like happening down at the theatre district in Branson, MO. I haven’t seen anything like this on the Gospel Music circuits, or the Modern Christian music circles, either. Ya know, at some point, someone’s going to figure out that there’s a rather well-established pattern, here. And no, this is not a ‘racial profiling’ thing. This is a ‘rap profile’ thing, and it’s getting as predictable as the outcome of tossing a can of gasoline on a campfire.

    This was reinforced in Detroit a few weeks ago, in that NBA incident with Rapper/Basketball Poser David Artest;

    Think; what is Hip-Hop about? Unabashed anger. Ever see any pictures of rappers smiling? Neither have I. That culture, and those results, last Friday, are directly connected. It’s time now for the NBA to start reckoning with that simple fact.

  13. McGehee says:

    Having another slow day in the ol’ cerebral cortex?

    You do seem to have that effect. Maybe your density is contagious.

  14. anjin-san says:

    Bithead,

    The subject is entertainers dying of drug overdoses… are you seriously having a hard time finding white entertainers who were lost this way?

  15. 42nd SSD says:

    We attribute too many things to “accidents”, auto accidents in particular. But this wasn’t even close… more like a long, drawn-out and rather complex suicide.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Not to worry McGehee, one needs very little in the way of brainpower to be a Rumsfeld apologist. In fact a dash of density is a prerequsite..

  17. Bithead says:

    The subject is entertainers dying of drug overdoses… are you seriously having a hard time finding white entertainers who were lost this way?

    All part and parcel of the same thing.. that is to say it’s all driven by the culture. Now, once again, let’s try and get you to acknowlege that ona per group basis, Rappers are comparatively dropping like flies, being far more self-destructive than any other group on the planet, save Islamo-faccists.

  18. Attila Girl says:

    I don’t believe society has been any less judgmental when stars from other genres have died of drug overdoses, particularly those in the music industry. Joplin, Hendrix, Moon–it’s just that it’s been a long time, and the chorus of “what a shame” has died out by now.

  19. anjin-san says:

    Bithead,

    For one thing, you have no data, so there is really nothing to acknowlege. Where was your outrage when rich white athletes like Ken Cameniti, John Matuzak & Lyle Alzedo (to say nothing of a host of wrestlers, remember the Von Erich brothers?) died prematurly from steroid/drug use?

  20. Rodney Dill says:

    Never wrestle with a pig,
    you just get dirty and the pig likes it.