The Ol’ Dirty Bastard Documentary screening is unraveling into a multilayered issue that’s becoming a head-scratcher to follow. The screening of the film, titled Dirty: Platinum Edition, was supposed to take place last Friday night (November 15) at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music on what would have been Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 45th birthday. What it ended up to be was more disaster than celebration. The documentary wasn’t shown, fights broke out in the cinema and the question, still, remains: who’s responsible?
XXL spoke to Chris Kanik, the owner of the NuHo Film Festival—the organization putting on the film’s screening—who laid the blame on the late rapper’s estate, saying they were “Looking for a handout rather than building some sort of value for ODB.” Icelene Jones—ODB’s widow and the administrator of her late husband’s estate—as well as her manager Messiah Jacobs spoke on the phone to XXL, disputing many of Kanik’s claims. Ms. Jones explains her side of what exactly went wrong, whether a third party is to blame and where the documentary goes from here. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
XXL: When did you first hear about this documentary?
Icelene Jones: Rock The Bells in California was the first time that I knew that they were going to try and show it at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I knew that Raison Allah [ODB's cousin] had been working on a documentary for a while, but for them to actually present it, that was the first time. It was presented to me in a threat. “You’re going to show up at BAM and I want you and the children to show up, this what we’re doing.” At that point, it was just Raison.
XXL: When did Chris come in?
IJ: I went up to him at Rock The Bells and let him know who I was. And he was receptive, and then he started telling me about the event that’s going to take place. And at this point everything was already set up for them to go on and do it. From that point on and several days after that, me and my manager advised him that he needs to speak with me, my manager and my attorney on the proper steps on what he needs to do to continue on with the project. He didn’t want to do that.
XXL: Did you guys have conversations over the rights?
IJ: He made several attempts to talk to us. We’d say, “Let’s make a meeting to talk tomorrow at 10 o’clock,” he’d get on the phone tomorrow morning at 10 am. Me, him and my attorney, we explained in detail what needed to be done in order for him to move forward. And I tried my hardest to work with him. All we need to do is simple: get an upgraded agreement with Raison Allah and then pay the estate, because you need to pay the estate. He didn’t want to do all of that.
Messiah Jacobs [Icelene's Manager]: If I could add, I don’t know if he was fed misinformation. Icelene has a team around here, she’s the administrator of the estate. And the estate is set up to make sure everyone profits, meaning all of ODB’s children. They all profit for any name or use of his likeness. It just kept going around in circles. I just think he was getting constant misinformation and he wasn’t doing the research. It seems to me like, people don’t do this stuff to Michael Jackson; they don’t do it to Elvis Presley. But when it comes to ODB you can just say, oh, it’s a memorial.
XXL: When was the cease and decease letter sent?
IJ: About 2-3 weeks before the event. It wasn’t a last minute thing. The communication has been very clear. The letter didn’t go out the day of, this is something that’s been going back and forth for a while. And that’s what they tried to make it seem like—like Icelene Jones messed up everybody’s good time and stopped everybody from seeing the film.
XXL: Had you been in talks with them up until the event?
IJ: Yep. Ever since I’ve been talking to [Kanik], he’s been lying. When I first heard of Chris from my son [Young Dirty Bastard], he was like, “Mommy, this man wants me to wear this t-shirt for Rock The Bells, to advertise NuHo.” He offered my son some money; just a little bit of money, nothing crazy. But my son didn’t say the line because he hadn’t gotten paid yet. So then they had another discussion afterwards where Chris did give my son some money to say the line when he was interviewed, which he did. Chris said he gave him the money for the rights for the movie, for the likeness, for the music. At that point, myself, my attorneys and my manager said, “Give us the proof [of] what you gave my son money for.” After that I knew I couldn’t trust him.
MJ: He’s turning this into a personal thing. We asked for money up front. We are the estate of Russell Jones, we have been appointed by the courts. You’re using his birthday, you’re using his picture, you’re promoting this event, you’re promoting this website. Then when we ask for compensation he’s trying to make it sound like we’re asking for something we’re not entitled to have.
IJ: And, may I add, we never asked for an amount. We didn’t even get to that.
XXL: Did he offer you 25 percent of everything made from the film instead of an upfront payment?
MJ: No. We’ve been consistent through this whole process. We were able to negotiate the deal to Rock The Bell for the use of the holograms. We’re not busting anybody’s balls; we want people to use his image for good causes. Brands that we want to associate with. We could have negotiated a deal with him, but his story consistently changes. I never saw that [25 percent] offer.