BEST SINGLES OF THE 90S: #5
July 20, 2012
What separates a good ODB track from a great one is tension: namely, the tension between the beat and ODB himself, as he does his best to send every single song careening off the rails. Look at “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” or “Brooklyn Zoo” – riff riff riff repeat, giving the most elemental structure to Dirty’s rants and vocal fart noises. That sort of cage is the only one expansive enough to hold him, and the Neptunes got this, for the three songs they produced on ODB’s second album.
Back then, the Neptunes were hip-hop’s groove merchants par excellence. They made hip-moving music—unlike some of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s other collaborations, you can always dance to a Neptunes track, even when he’s screaming like a maniac (on “Recognize”) or doing his signature impotent drunk-croon (on “Cold Blooded”). The tension between ODB’s frantic, addled persona and the Neptunes’ steadfast head-noddability doesn’t ever explode: it just produces tremendous electric energy, most especially on “Got Your Money.”
“And then you can call me Dirrrty—and then lift up your skirt,” ODB yowls at one point. Let’s be clear: this is a song about ODB being a pimp and demanding his money from his prostitutes. (The part of the prostitutes is played by Kelis on the hook.) He spends the entire song cajoling and menacing women to pay him his cut of their servitude. “I don’t want no problems ‘cause I’ll put you down in the ground where you will not be found,” he wheezes, and then in the next breath, notes that he’s “just Dirt Dog tryin’a make some money.” C’mon, who could fail to sympathize with that?
The unbelievable gulf between the song’s subject matter and its insistent bass-vamp beat—typified by how, at one point, Ol’ Dirty starts screaming at Kelis’s chorus, demanding she “SING IT RIGHT NOW”—only makes it even more appealing. How does a song like this exist? Looking back, Ol’ Dirty Bastard seems so of his time that it’s almost quaint. Nowadays he’d be a viral Tumblr sensation for a few minutes and flash out and go back to wherever, reduced to trying to get a reality show. (In the last year of his life, Ol’ Dirty Bastard did, in fact, have a reality show in production.) Instead, as the loose cannon of the Wu-Tang Clan, he got to do a guest spot on a Mariah Carey remix.
Sociology students with nothing better to do with their lives could go on and on for pages and pages about the troubling juxtaposition in “Got Your Money.” Most people—me included—will just tap our foot to it. It’s the funkiest mess of the decade, MCed by a psychotic who nonetheless pulls off the greatest coup in hip-hop lyric-writing history: “I don’t have no trouble with you fuckin’ me,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard informs his ho, a theoretical female listener, or both, “but I got a little problem with you not fuckin’ me.”
Alternatively, someone took the care to summarize the song on Wikipedia:
The song is initially dedicated exclusively to the world’s population of attractive females, until ODB seems to have pangs of guilt for not including ladies who might be considered ‘homely’ or ‘ugly,’ so he decides to include them, with the encouraging words, ‘to me, you pretty anyway, baby.’ The artist begins the song by expressing his harsh disdain for women whom he meets, who initially appear to be interested in him, yet later express a reversal of opinion. He then transitions into a discussion about how women sometimes imply they are carrying one’s child, although the DNA tests may not yet have come back conclusively.
ODB then expresses some confusion with respect to the morality of the situation, but he is able to remedy this by presenting his Cristal brand of champagne, and urging the patrons to disarm themselves, because ODB does not approve of such violence. Continuing, it appears at first that there is some mutual attraction between “Dirty” (ODB) and the female patrons in the establishment; however, it soon becomes apparent to Dirty that the females only wish to use him for a shot at music video stardom. Despite his knowledge of their ulterior motives, ODB’s primary interest remains focused on dancing, and he tries to perpetuate his image as one who should not be taken lightly. He acknowledges a lack of intellectualism, although he claims that this is superseded by his natural charisma.
The females in the establishment start admiring Dirty for his assets, which just causes Dirty to return to the situation at hand: his money. Thereafter, ODB proceeds to wax lyrical about his enjoyment of holding the female form and his impending resolution to engage in larceny. He asks for the females’ assistance in rectifying the situation, and subsequently asks them to expose their nether regions. Dirty finishes off the song with some nonsensical lyrics, that clearly imply his rising anger for the missing money.