[VINTAGE VISION]<br />
Enter Wu-Tangâs 20th Birthday<br />

Staying alive was no jive....

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bum-rushing the stage at the 1998 Grammy Awards to declare “Wu-Tang is for the children,” we all simply laughed.

Nevertheless, the truth of the matter was the man was suffering. In 2003, when Ol’ Dirty was released from prison after being there since 2001 for crack possession, I visited him at his mother’s home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Although Dirty was sober, he seemed to be highly medicated. The Dirty I met was a shell of a man who’d long ago been broken by ghetto foolishness, keepin’ it real ridiculousness and representin’ self-destruction.

Ten years later, I still recall how sad the entire scene made me. Noticing my glance at the gold record for Enter the Wu-Tang hanging on the wall, he looked at me and said, “I don’t even remember making that record. When I was drunk, I was in another world. All I remember was waking up and having a hangover.”

Nearly a year after our interview, ODB passed away on November 13, 2004. Overdosing on a mixture of cocaine and tramadol, he collapsed in RZA’s midtown studio. Two days later, he would’ve been 36.

Cultural critic Michael A. Gonzales has written cover stories for Vibe, Uptown, Essence, XXL, Wax Poetics and elsewhere. He’s also written for New York and The Village Voice. Read him at Blackadelic Pop and follow him on Twitter @gonzomike.