NEW YORK More than a month after fleeing a rehab center and becoming a fugitive from justice, rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard surfaced Tuesday night in a triumphant, if blatantly illegal, performance with the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan in front of hundreds of fans.
"I can't stay on the stage too long tonight - the cops is after me," O.D.B. told the stunned, gleeful crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom after joining with the rest of the Clan to perform "Shame on a N---a."
The rapper (born Russell Jones) is wanted by Los Angeles police for his flight from rehab, and he faces two other bench warrants in drug cases in Brooklyn and Queens.
However legally risky, O.D.B.'s performance at the Wu-Tang Clan's release party for their new album, The W, marked a milestone for the group, according to its leader, rapper/producer RZA.
"For the first time in three years, you see the whole Wu-Tang Clan onstage tonight," RZA told the screaming crowd.
He had introduced O.D.B. as a "surprise guest."
In addition to lending his trademark half-sung rapping to "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothin' Ta F--- Wit" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," O.D.B. used his time onstage to rant at the crowd.
"You know, the whole f---in' world is after me. Y'all know, I'm still surrounded," he said, before explaining that he planned to become "like a bird" and to subsist on "birdseeds or whatever."
"You'll see, motherf---ers, you'll see," he concluded.
O.D.B. wore a large orange parka and a hat with its tag attached. When he wasn't rapping, he periodically swilled from a bottle.
As the show concluded, the numerous police officers outside the Hammerstein Ballroom appeared to be unaware of the presence of a fugitive inside.
And as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday (November 22), New York police had no record of arresting the rapper.
O.D.B.'s unexpected performance Tuesday night is just the latest in a seemingly never-ending
sequence of bizarre actions.
In 1998, he jumped onstage during the Grammy Awards as an award was presented to singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin, proclaiming that the Wu-Tang Clan are "for the children." (see "Ol' Dirty Bastard Tells Why He Stormed Grammy Stage").
The rapper spent much of last year in courtrooms, appearing on charges of illegally wearing a bulletproof vest, possessing crack cocaine, making terrorist threats, operating a vehicle illegally and stealing a $50 pair of sneakers. He also released his second solo album, N---a Please.
O.D.B. had been living at the Impact House rehab center in Pasadena, California, after serving six months in county jail for violating his probation by drinking alcohol. Last month, he fled as he was being transported from the center to Los Angeles Criminal Courthouse downtown (see "Ol' Dirty Bastard Flees Drug-Treatment
O.D.B. appears on only one song, "Conditioner," on the Wu-Tang Clan's just-released new album, which is dedicated to him (see "Wu-Tang Clan Go Back To Basics For Latest Album").