Best Of '99: Ol' Dirty Bastard Juggles Coast-To-Coast Court Cases

Wu-Tang Clan rapper confronts criminal charges in three court cases on two coasts over four days.

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Monday, May 17.]

With three of his criminal court cases up for hearings over the next four days, rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard faces a busy week in the halls of justice on both coasts.

The Wu-Tang Clan MC and solo artist is scheduled to appear in two different Los Angeles County courts Tuesday and Wednesday on separate charges: illegally wearing body armor in one and allegedly making terrorist threats against nightclub security guards in the other. Then Friday, he's due in a Brooklyn, N.Y., courthouse on a charge of possessing crack cocaine.

But since the terrorist-threat case has been scheduled for trial, which could be a time-consuming proceeding, ODB may have too much to juggle, even with the help of a red-eye flight to New York on Thursday night.

"This was the situation he faced the last time he was in court, other than the new case in New York," said District Attorney Ann Rundle, who is prosecuting the terrorist-threat case in Santa Monica (Calif.) Superior Court. "I'm assuming that his counsel will have to file a motion of continuance either in our case or the [other] case ... because clearly, he can't be on two sides of the country at once."

Kevin Barnes, ODB's legal representative in the terrorist-threat case, has already requested the trial be postponed until Thursday, because Barnes will be out of town, Rundle said. ODB still has to appear in court Wednesday for the postponement to be granted.

In that case, the 30-year-old rapper, born Russell Tyrone Jones, is accused of threatening to kill security guards at the House of Blues nightclub in West Hollywood, Calif., last September after being ejected from the club for disruptive behavior. A case involving a similar charge that he threatened to kill his former girlfriend was thrown out due to lack of evidence last month, just as it was about to go to trial.

"Terrorist threats, that's not me," ODB said in February. "I'm not no terrorist. I'm just a regular rap artist who loves women, who loves partying, who loves to f---, who loves people not to lie about him. I know I didn't do it. That's why I'm not worried about it."

Rundle had no comment on the case. Barnes did not return calls.

Prior to the hearing in the terrorist-threat case, ODB is due to appear Tuesday in Los Angeles Municipal Court on charges that he illegally wore a bulletproof vest February 16. ODB, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge, is believed to have been the first person arrested under a new state law forbidding convicted violent felons from having body armor; the law applies to ODB because he was convicted of assault in 1993.

Former O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro, who is defending him in the case, told SonicNet Music News he will argue that ODB needed the vest to protect himself, due in part to his occupation as a high-profile rapper, and had a constitutional right to wear it.

Rounding out his court appearances for the week, ODB is due in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Friday for a second hearing on charges of possessing crack cocaine and illegally operating a vehicle the night of March 22.

The rapper also has two additional cases open in Los Angeles and Queens, New York, for allegedly operating a vehicle without a license, and another case in Virginia in which he is accused of stealing a $50 pair of tennis shoes.

ODB is finishing up his second solo album, which has been set for a July release, his Elektra spokesperson said Friday. Though he has not chosen an album title, ODB has tossed out Nigga, Please and God Made Dirt and the Dirt Don't Hurt as possibilities. "It's gonna be crazy... with respect to myself, with respect to African people," ODB has said of the album.

The upcoming release is the follow-up to 1995's Return to the 36

Chambers: The Dirty Version, which included "Drunk Game (Sweet Sugar

Pie)" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Raw Hide" (RealAudio