What follows is an exchange sparked by a Tuesday Sound of the City post about Digging in the Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB. Jarred Weisfeld, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s manager at the time of his death, took issue with the way he’d been described. He wanted an explanation, and a chance to publicly defend himself. You’ll find both below. In retrospect, I may well have been hard on the guy, but certain, glaringly opportunistic facts stand. Let the internet decide, I guess…
In a Sound of the City post on Tuesday – an interview with Jaime Lowe, author of Digging For Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB – I made parenthetical reference to Jarred Weisfeld, the Mudd jeans scion who managed Ol’ Dirty Bastard, alias Russell Jones, in the few unhappy years between the rapper’s last prison stint and his fatal collapse on a New York studio floor. This mention of him didn’t make Weisfeld happy, probably because I referred to him as the “scum-sucking final ODB manager.” (It should be noted that Jaime Lowe had nothing to do with this epithet; it was my addendum.)
Weisfeld protested, and wanted to know why he’d been saddled with that kind of epithet.
So I obliged.
According to Lowe’s book, (and according to Weisfeld himself, for that matter), Weisfeld’s initial contact with Jones came at New York’s upstate Clinton Correctional Facility, where ODB was serving a two-year sentence on drug-related charges. In that year, 2002, ODB was a suicidal and psychologically unwell celebrity isolated from friends and family; during
his sentence, the overweight and unhealthy rapper was visited all of one time by a fellow Wu-Tang member: RZA, his cousin. Weisfeld, on the other hand, was 22-years-old, fresh out of Florida’s Lynn University, and an aspiring producer of “a Nickelodeon show that would be the kids’ version of Punk’d.”
In the meantime, he pitched VH1, where he was a production assistant, on a reality show called ODB on Parole — having never met ODB, on parole or off. VH1 bit, and so did ODB, when he got a chance to meet Weisfeld. By Weisfeld’s account, ODB eventually agreed to the show on the condition that Weisfeld also manage Jones.
This beginning — lonely, addled rapper meets trust-fund assisted, fame-hungry opportunist — was consummated the week of Jones’s release, when Weisfeld booked ODB to photograph a nude model for Playboy. As the magazine’s photo director told Lowe: “It may have been a week since he got out of jail. I don’t think he’d been around a nude woman for a while, let alone a Playboy model. When he came in I think he was a little overwhelmed. He was actually really quiet at first.”
This heartbreaking scene was followed by others: The sale of ODB’s contract to Roc-a-Fella, a rival rap crew, rather than restoration to the Wu-Tang fold; a spa treatment at Mezzanine Spa staged for the VH1 cameras, where a newly-freed Jones was leeringly placed around still more bikini-clad women; bookings as disparate and ill-advised as the indie-centric rock showcase CMJ in New York and The Gathering of the Juggalos, a Vanilla Ice/Insane Clown Posse headlined musical festival in Garretsville, Ohio; and, to this day, a held-up final album, “A Son Unique,” in legal limbo after the inevitable Weisfeld/Roc-a-Fella court battle.
So “scum-sucking” for the bush-league mandingo publicity stunts; for the brash financial opportunism on the back of a guy who didn’t need the extra however-many-hundred-thousand he got from Roc-a-Fella; for the fame-whore antics that would put another, braver man on reality TV just to get yourself put on; for Vanilla Ice collabo (“I’m so sad that we never got to do those tracks,” Christ!) that blessedly never happened; for the continual squabbling over the last artistic remains of the man’s estate, and for, reportedly, threatening to sue Jaime Lowe for a shockingly kind treatment in her book of some really disgraceful behavior. Objection?
Indeed, there was one. Weisfeld’s response, in full, below.
Jaime Lowe is a freelance Village Voice reporter who is obviously friends with you, Zach. [Actually, she hasn’t written for us in more than two years – ed.]
My dad was a cab driver who became a founder of Mudd Jeans and is a success story. Did I ever work for my dad? Never. Is he my hero? Yes he is.
Zach, Lowe’s book is filled with factual errors of which I am only going to name a few. For the record I never met with Dirt at Clinton Correctional Facility. I also am not holding up ODB’s final record. Public Records show the administrator Icelene Jones is holding up that record, not me, and if Jaime Lowe had gone to the courthouse, public records show that. I have absolutely nothing to do with the holdup of that record, in fact nobody wants it out more then his mother and I. Jamie Lowe’s shoddy reporting is a recurring issue you will see. Jaime Lowe lives in Brooklyn, probably within walking distance from the courthouse. Why didn’t she attempt to get the truth from public records? Go to court yourself and see if I am holding up his record.
Any real reporter would do that.
As for the Playboy shoot, it was not booked by me but rather his publicist. It was not staged for VH1. Playboy asked Dirty to do it and he wanted to do it. They had a series of celebs who took pictures. King Magazine had the same scenario. It was booked by Dirt’s publicist and he wanted to do it.
Another topic is me taking Dirt away from Wu Tang. I did no such thing. All members of Wu Tang were signed to other labels as solo artists. Dirty signed with RocaFella as a solo artist, but he was still with his group Wu Tang.
I did not receive hundreds of thousands of dollars as you suggest from Rocafella. I don’t know where you got that from?
Jaime’s statement that I attended the Vanilla Ice Ohio concert is completely false. I was acquainted with Vanilla Ice, and Dirty did the show because he was asked. Unfortunately, Zach, Dirty had child support payments of which these concerts helped pay. Are you and Jaime suggesting he shouldn’t have done the concert and therefore not take care of his responsibilities as a father?
If you sat down with Cherry Jones and let her explain what I did for her son you would feel differently. Did Jaime tell you she asked me to be interviewed for the book and I declined? Did Jaime tell you that she originally told us through Dirt’s publicist that she was writing a story for Rolling Stone when she didn’t ever work there? Did Jaime tell you that she barely knew ODB?
Even you though Zach, will not be able to deny the unbelievable laziness or naïveté that Jaime has displayed by changing questions that were asked at a Press Conference with fake questions.
As for the lawsuit against Jaime Lowe, well for starters she doesn’t have the facts right; not even close. The fact that you think of me this way proves why she should be sued. If you knew the truth you wouldn’t feel this way.
I appreciate the Voice letting me vent what are undeniable truths. What is amazing though, is the fact that I am not a reporter, Jamie Lowe is, and while she does have a right to question how I did my job as Dirty’s manager, if she took any pride in her job she would not report factual mistruths that harm my reputation – not opposing opinions mind you – but flat out malicious lies about events. If I read the book and read what she said about me, and not knowing the truth, hell I’d see where you’re coming from; but it isn’t the truth and I have proof.
Zach, I’ll tell you what; I’m not a bad guy despite what Jaime tells you and what you think. It would be my pleasure to take you out to lunch and I’ll even let you film it for your blog. You can ask me whatever you want and hear the truth. I would imagine even a tabloid journalist like you would be blown away by the maliciousness of Ms. Lowe’s actions.