oldirty2.jpgBy Havelock Nelson
Billboard 02/25/95

BROOKLYN BASTARD: As it nurtures and develops Ol’ Dirty Bastard “from the ground up,” Elektra Entertainment is hoping crossover and urban radio will eventually respond to its grass-roots efforts.

The company’s marketing strategy involves taking the rugged rapper’s solo debut album, “Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version,” from the hip-hop world to the world at large. The plan for the set, which ships March 28, revolves around the artist’s association with Wu-Tang Clan.

Born Russell Jones, Ol’ Dirty Bastard is a loose part of that gold-selling Loud/RCA collective. His moniker came courtesy of his cousin (and Wu-Tang ringleader) the RZA, and functions as a convenient description of his distinctive raw and soulful vocal style.

Jones breaks his hip-hop handle down: “I’m dirty because when I step to a mike I come uncut; I speak my mind from the heart. The ol’ comes from the fact that I was influenced by the old school–everybody from Al Green and Millie Jackson to the Sugarhill Gang. And the bastard part is there because there is no father to my style.”

“Brooklyn Zoo,” the new album’s first single, was released Jan. 21, four days after being shipped to mixers at rap and college radio.

A supporting clip for the cut was shot by director Diane Martell and was to be serviced to BET, MTV, and the Box the week of Feb. 13.

Additionally, journalist Bonz Malone interviewed Jones for a “Boxtalk” segment.

Elektra is adopting a “very aggressive” advertising stance for the Ol’ Dirty project. Says Elektra senior VP of marketing Steve Kleinberg, “On the account level, we’ll be using a ‘coming soon’ streamer to let people know the album is coming. We’ll be advertising on the Box until April, long after our street date.”

The label will also be making use of stickers and posters, as well as sniping areas around major markets such as New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Bay area a week before the album’s drop date.

“Everything we’ll be doing in this first phase is to solidify Ol’ Dirty’s base and have this record take off from there,” says Kleinberg. “We know there’s a built-in base. And we know, from having gotten feedback from those who have heard the record, that we have something very substantial.”

Jones says “Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version” is an extension of Wu-Tang Clan’s debut work, with a twist.

“For the first time, [fans] are gonna see inside my whole . . . head,” he says. “They’re gonna see all sides of me: a cool side, a happy side . . . everything. My album is just entertainment. I wouldn’t say my shit is New York; I wouldn’t say it’s West Coast. I’d just say it’s Ol’ Dirty.”

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