Song of the Day: “Olivia”


To mark the anniversary of a late, great hip hop icon whose very name inspires controversy, XXL Magazine asked former members of the legendary rap group Wu-Tang to remember their friend, Russell Tyrone Jones, known otherwise as Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Lyricist Raekwon recalled the following anecdote:

My memories go back to us being in his house in Harlem. We used to listen to a lot of slow music, a lot of songs that we liked, that we grew up on, from the O’Jays to The Whispers. I remember sitting in the house singing “Olivia” drunk on muthafuckin’ Bacardi…

That about sums it up. The Whispers released the silky smooth and beautifully-harmonized ballad, “Olivia” in 1978, but its lament for a wayward “slave” girl is no less affecting today. Add to that its influence on epochal artists of the hip hop movement, and the song demands our attention.

Read more of Max Gray at Big City Sasquatch or follow him on Twitter @City_Sasquatch. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Encounters, Mount Hope, Conte,, and English Kills Review. He co-hosts the etymology podcast Words For Dinner and is a graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program. More from this author →