Rapper OL' DIRTY BASTARD has been freed from jail after spending more than two years inside on drugs charges.

And on his first day of freedom yesterday (01MAY03), the star - real name RUSSELL JONES - appeared at a New York press conference to announce his signing to ROC-A-FELLA records and the adoption of another alias, DIRT McGIRT.

The WU-TANG CLAN star expressed relief at the end of his incarceration, during which he had been placed on suicide watch for a spell.

He says, "The first thing I wanted to do was give my mother a hug. It was hell out there. But so what, I feel good. I'm happy to be here. I'm happy my eyes are open still. I'm all right physically and mentally. I feel good."

The rapper was sentenced in July 2001, but had been detained for months prior to that after escaping a court-ordered drug treatment facility and going on the run.

He was officially paroled earlier this year (03) but transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

He recalls, "They was trying to lock me in, 'cause I was running around being Dirt McGirt. They said, 'Yo, we don't know about this one cat here. He seems a little crazy.' I had to hit to hit 'em with some Dirt McGirt wear and they let me go."

02/05/2003 16:56