It was announced this week that a digital hologram of deceased Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard will be featured at this year’s Rock the Bells Festival; and while ODB fans may have been rejoicing over the news, the late rapper’s widow is steadfastly against the idea.
Icelene Jones voiced her disapproval and said via press release that as the administrator of ODB’s estate, she is the only person that can approve use of his likeness.
“I am disappointed that Rock the Bells would not contact me directly about the use of my husband’s image. I am looking forward to talking to Wu-Tang about this matter and coming up with a positive solution in order to bring my husband’s image to the stage once again.”
“My son, Young Dirty Bastard, [also known as] Boy Jones has always performed at Rock the Bells and looks forward to working with his Uncle RZA every year.”
In the meantime, however, the estate of ODB, born Russell Jones, has issued a cease and desist order against Rock the Bells organizers. The estate stands on its sole ownership of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s lyrics, performances and likeness.
Chang Weisberg, head of Rock the Bells organizers Guerilla Union, said he reached out to the appropriate parties before announcing the digital performance. It should also be noted that ODB’s mother, Cherry Jones, was seated alongside Weisberg at the press conference.
“I keep in touch with Cherry all the time,” Chang told HipHopDX after the press conference. “She’s got a legacy that she’s trying to keep together for her grand kids and her relatives. So, whatever it is that we can do to help Cherry in her mission, we’re gonna do. Whatever it is that Tomica [Wright] wants to do, we want to be there to support her. She’s Eazy-E‘s wife. She’s the estate. She’s N.W.A. and she’s Ruthless Records, man! Anytime someone comes to me that I have that much respect for, you can come to me and I’ll drop everything I’m doing to listen. She dropped everything she was doing to listen to me and I was inspired by her.”
“If Tomica [Wright], Bone [Thugs-N-Harmony], RZA and Cherry [Jones] don’t approve of what we’re doing, I’ll be the first one to tell everybody, ‘I’m sorry. We didn’t do it.’ I can’t do this. ‘If you’re disappointed, let’s not do it,’” Weisberg added. “But at the same time, knowing who I am and the team of people around me, there’s no f–kin’ way we’re gonna let anybody down. It’s that simple.
ODB’s mother and widow have had their fair share of legal battles. They feuded over his estate back in 2004 and Cherry Jones and some former Ol’ Dirty Bastard affiliates have criticized Icelene’s handling of his estate.