Ol' Dirty Bastard Freed

Wu-Tang rapper joins Roc-A-Fella roster

Ol' Dirty Bastard (a.k.a. Russell Jones) was freed today after spending more than two years incarcerated on drug charges. On his first day of freedom, ODB (who has also gone by the handle Big Baby Jesus and Osiris) appeared at a New York City press conference to announce his signing with Roc-A-Fella records, the obligatory new line of clothes and the assumption of yet another identity: Dirt McGirt. Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash and Mariah Carey were present along with ODB's mother, wife and his crew the Brooklyn Zoo.

"Any opportunity I see, when I see someone who's talented and wants to get money, I could care less what anybody says about them," Dash said. "That's why I chose Ol' Dirty Bastard. He just touched the pavement. I think he's ready to go into the store and make some hits. He's entertained us on every level. All we want to do at the Roc is give him love and help him get where he's got to go."

For his part, ODB expressed relief at the end of his incarceration, during which the rapper had been placed on suicide watch at one point. "The first thing I wanted to do was give my mother a hug," O.D.B. said. "It was hell out there. But so what, I feel good. I'm happy to be here. I'm happy my eyes are open still. I'm all right physically and mentally. I feel good."

The rapper was sentenced in July 2001, but had been detained for months prior to that after escaping a court-ordered drug treatment facility and briefly going on the lam. He was officially paroled earlier this year but transferred to a psych hospital. "They was trying to lock me in, 'cause I was running around being Dirt McGirt," he said. "They said, 'Yo, we don't know about this one cat here. He seems a little crazy.' I had to hit 'em with some Dirt McGirt wear and they let me go."

Though no concrete recording plans have been announced, O.D.B. is expected to hit the studio in the near future, citing Carey, 50 Cent and Jay-Z as some of the artists he'd like to bring onboard. "Since I've been gone, it got like radical and crazy, know what I'm saying?" he said. "Scared me a little. Sitting in the cell, watching my niggaz doing their thing. The music, they got it going on. I just want to jump in there like a swimming pool."

He also suggested that he'd soon be rejoining the Wu-Tang Clan for their next album. "Y'all know how Wu-Tang get down," he said. "We gets down when we gets down. We gonna get you back to the dinosaur days. So just look for it."

A VH1 special, On Parole With O.D.B., is also in the works.