In September 2018, ODB’s family reached out to me as they were planning a 50th Birthday Celebration to honor the life of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The family wanted to see some of my images of Ol’ Dirty, and possibly use one for the event promotion.
A week later, I met Ol’ Dirty’s daughter Taniqua Jones, her fiancé, and their new baby in Brooklyn, at a coffee shop. We talked for some time about her father. I told her my stories of photographing Ol’ Dirty on different occasions, and meeting the real Russell Jones, beyond the character O.D.B. I showed them many images no one had ever seen, capturing the life and characters of both O.D.B. and Russell Jones.
Taniqua explained the event they were planning, who would perform, what would happen during the event. She had it planned out A-to-Z. After our meeting, she asked if I had ever seen the Ol’ Dirty Bastard Mural? I replied that I hadn’t. She explained, “It’s only a few blocks from where we are, you should go check it out.”
So I got in my car and drove the few blocks over. I parked, got out of my car and walked around the O.D.B. mural. The wall and the late afternoon lighting were so expressive, so I went back to my car to get my pocket sized digital camera. While I captured the mural from different angles and perspectives, I observed a character appear in the middle of it all.
Days later, as I was downloading the images off my camera onto my computer, I brought them to a friend with a good eye, to check out the shots.
She turned and looked at me with a look. “You know, that’s the Erykah Badu song, Telephone.”
I had no idea what she was talking about.
She gestured as if to say, “stupid man,” grabbed her iPad and played the Erykah Badu song. At a particular section in the song, she tells me, “These images are that section of the song.”
(That section of the song being when Erykah Badu is talking to, and about, O.D.B.)
After looking back at the frames of images, I realized how the lyrics and the scene were playing out in front of me.
For almost two years, I have been meaning to make time to splice these images together with the music… and now, with a little more free time to create, I finally got around to sharing this moment with Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Mural X Erykah Badu’s Telephone.