Wu-Tang Clan to Press Single Copy of New Album, Tour It in Museums and Then Sell It for 'Millions'

"The Wu - Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" is a 31-track double album presented in an engraved silver-plated case.

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Wu-Tang Clan have revealed plans to manufacture and release a brand new double album, "The Wu - Once Upon a Time in Shaolin," in a limited edition of one, NME reports.

The album will be sold in an engraved silver-and-nickel box created by British-Moroccan artist Yahya and bearing the group's W insignia. It is expected to come with a multi-million dollar price tag, reports Forbes.

"We're about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before," said RZA. "We're about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We're making a single-sale collector's item. This is like somebody having the sceptre of an Egyptian king."

The band also plan to take the album on a "tour" of museums, galleries and festivals, where they will charge between $30-$50 (£18 to £30) to view and listen to the album. The listening sessions will take place behind heavy security and will use headphones provided by the venue, to prevent the album leaking.

The album's main producer, Tarik "Cilvaringz" Azzougarh, says the Wu-Tang have discussed London's Tate Modern as a possible venue for the exhibition. The group first met Morocco-based Cilvaringz at a show in Amsterdam in 1997, and he has been an affiliate of the collective ever since.

Once the 31-track, 128-minute album has done the rounds, it will be available to purchase for a price "in the millions" of dollars. It is speculated that a label could buy the album and release it through the usual channels.

"The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years," RZA said. "And yet it doesn't receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it's been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free."

"I know it sounds crazy," Cilvaringz said. "It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed. But the essence and core of our ideas is to inspire creation and originality and debate, and save the music album from dying."

The long-promised 20th anniversary album, "A Better Tomorrow," is still set for a standard commercial release this summer.

80 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Himynameisben95
    I honestly can't tell if this is sheer brilliance, utter madness or complete and total money grubbing bullshit.
    HitmanJenkins
    Probably all three.
    Joe-Floyd-lover
    Is your avatar supposed to be Nicholas Cage as a Juggalo or a member of KISS?
    MoJo-EaTeR
    I thought it was supposed to be Nicholas Cage with Abbath Doom Occulta's corpse paint.
    LynchMobster
    It actually seems like a legitimate idea to me. If other bands/artist started doing similar things it would create more incentive to actually craft the best album possible. Gone would be filler tracks, and generic artists. I think that could be a driving force that could inspire an artist or group to write the next The Wall, Zeppelin II, Thriller or Master of Puppets. Bands could write and record their album, sell it to the record label, and the label could then distribute the album. There are definitely some problems with that model, but I think that could potentially save the music industry if implemented correctly
    JelloCrust
    The RZA wants to see what is stronger, his pure will or his last great rival, internet piracy. Seriously though, it's not like they aren't coming out with an album everybody can buy around the same time this one is going to drop.
    GameSkate
    Mr. Doctor from Devil Doll did it couple of years ago. His first album was released as single vinyl. He didn't tried to sell it though. "This is a painting, not a graphic work" - Mr. Doctor.
    dennis.1960
    It was called "The Mark of the Beast" and a single copy was pressed in 1988 which Mr Dr has kept in his possession. Another big difference, Devil Doll actually has musical talent.
    LynchMobster
    RZA is a very musically gifted individual. Some of his songs touch on such spiritual and deep concepts, accompanied with beautifully composed beats that are hard to even describe as hip hop. What makes that even more inpsiring is how drastically different that is from other songs where he is just showcasing pure agression and lyrical prowess or his horrorcore rap with Gravediggaz.
    for those with short attention spans, it picks up at 1:18
    thepowerofmetal
    This is actually a good idea, but it will work only if a band or artist has a multi-millionaire fan... or if a record company is willing to pay multi-million for the album... else, it will totally flop.
    Emol1996
    I wonder how this will turn out.
    ianharv
    I agree. I mean, how many millionaire Wu-Tang fans are there?!
    Samhuinn
    Well, considering their influence in the genre, and the net worth of some of the biggest names in hiphop and rap, I would imagine Wu-Tang Clan have a better chance of finding a millionaire fan than many other artists.
    TomWhaley
    Yeah. Most likely a big celebrity rapper will buy this. Someone like Jay-Z or Kanye... Honestly, what multimillionaire rapper, who is influenced by Wu-Tang, wouldn't consider getting this!? Probably a cooler item to show off than another watch or car... hah
    jesse.lapham.1
    Charging more than the price of album for a a single listen is ridiculous. Other than that I think its a great statement about the state of music
    EpiExplorer
    But in the context of admiring art, that's essentially paying £30 to see a Rembrant collection or something. That sounds an awful lot like a live gig to me, just in reverse: instead of you seeing a live band who play music that can be accessed anywhere else (but you go to gigs for the fun and booze), you're hearing music that is definitively one of a kind, played in, most likely, the only way its only ever going to be heard by other people. I think its a fair idea in that respect, even if I don't like hip hop that much.
    JelloCrust
    Also, some special edition albums that come on fancy colorful vinyl cost about $60-$70. . . so, $30-$50 isn't bad to see, excuse me, hear a piece of art.
    Roarz
    I was just reading this story and my computer got bluescreen D:
    5150rando
    Of course people who don't respect rap as a genre will find this to be a stupid move. Honestly, there's nothing so crazy about this besides that it's a pretty damn cool idea.
    sykest70
    You'd pay 50 bucks to listen to 20+ filler tracks?
    TomWhaley
    Depends what you consider "filler." Obviously somebody who doesn't respect the rap genre, like 5150rando mentioned, will not respect this... However, I'm sure people who are into this are at the very least interested to see how this plays out and how the album actually turns out.
    5150rando
    I think everybody is forgetting that a label will probably end up buying the record and then sell it to the masses. They might actually be making less money with this record if they proceed with this plan. However, artistically, I think this is a really cool idea.
    Abacus11
    Awesome! Let's just hope it's better than "Wu Tang Forever".
    itsover900040
    This, Forever had some good cuts on it but a lot of filler. I am hoping for "A Better Tomorrow" to be more consistent, since I guess no one will have the chance to listen to this album apparently.
    Sebo
    I am actually thinking that the Wu could make people appreciate music more through that move. Wicked.
    ckysteve5
    Alot of people will condemn this move for being a cash grab, and rightfully so, because that's exactly what it is but they are also taking a pretty big risk by doing so. And more than that, I think this is bold attempt to deliver a message about the decreasing value of music. Making money as a musician is borderline impossible because with streaming and file sharing, the supply is basically infinite and the demand is not. RZA (who is a highly intelligent man) is basically turning the tables on labels and consumers by taking it to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum: making the supply as limited as physically possible and see who is willing the pay for it. It’s a pretty extreme idea and can be looked at as a disservice to fans but I don’t think it’s JUST a shameless cash grab and publicity stunt (although it is both of those things). I don't know how this will turn out or if it will have any real effect on the way music is consumed going forward, but if it's successful I think we may look back at this as a pivotal point in changing the music industry to benefit artists. Interesting stuff though.
    grahmmar
    Man it is tricky doing this with pop music. I work in an art gallery and context is so important when displaying art to the public. If it's a typical Wu Tang album it's prob best enjoyed by having people listen to it in a variety of situations and places. If they changed their music a lot while they made the record to suit an art gallery it'd be cool.. but if this is just a last minute marketing idea it will prob just seem awkward to the average listener
    Iommianity
    Yeah, I'm pretty cynical about everything they do these days. Beefing on facebook for everyone to see, mere days or hours before a show, charging #100 for a supposed "anniversary tour" of 36 Chambers, with all original members, only for RZA to pull out of playing before they take the stage (this happened to my buddies in Toronto recently). I have no problem with a 'cash grab' in the music industry, but as a group, Wu-Tang are a bunch of divas. I definitely separate all the awesome music they've put out from those guys as a single unit. Ghostface, Raekwon and Method Man are basically the only ones who will go out and give 100% for the sake of the music. Probably why they give out the most energy and get the best reception from the crowd.
    CreedenceTool
    Saw them last summer. GZA was very good too. And I would've been soooo pissed if RZA wasnt there
    base851
    Conceptually, it's very intriguing, controlling piracy by limiting supply. The model definitely will need some refining, and I doubt Wu Tang Clan will get the response they think they'll get, but it is an interesting idea.
    Terbasmin
    Haha, this actually sounds amazing. If I were a more die hard fan I'd do this. Say one time only QOTSA album. Yeah, I'd pay for that. No doubt. If it was worth it, I'd pay again lol
    LynchMobster
    It would be funny if some douche like Donald Trump buys it, then Wu-Tang releases all the songs for free immediately after payment goes through
    TheForthcoming1
    Someone will buy the album then put it on youtube for all to see and hear for free eventually or give it to a radio station to play. But maybe whoever buys this album (if anyone?)will have to sign a nondisclosure agreement or something like that.
    morbidguitar
    The only person that could afford such trash is another overpaid rapper. I guess they knew it would only sell one copy anyway.
    Doomzdayxx
    derrrp dats racist yo!
    joee75
    ...how the f**k is that a racist comment...another dickhead playing a race card just to see his name on the net...loser.
    jthm_guitarist
    What if someone listens to it and then plagiarizes the music? How would they ever prove it in court?
    MattHessing
    If it came to that I'm pretty sure they could play the original in court. It's not like the original music doesn't exist.
    bustapr
    odds are any person listening to it wont pay $30-$50 over and over again to memorize it for the sole purpose of plagiarizing it a song.
    SolowWalker
    Its merely to avoid making more copies of the album and lose money from lack of albums sold really, using the media for promotion and claim what they're doing is an artform for those who are fans, abstract artwork admirer's, pitchfork music critics or anyone who doesn't believe this to be a money making strategy
    benjixoath
    as much as i enjoy wu tang clan how arrogant are they? "sell for millions" they're not exactly the worlds biggest bands things like elvis's guitars and shit dont even go for millions why do they think this album will sell for millions even as a one off?
    Abacus11
    No. It's a creative way to get a buzz going about the new album. It's a pretty funny idea too.
    Shredder666
    I could see The Clan doing this if they were Godly musicians and were respected and accepted all around the music industry, but they're not even that good. This is arrogant and while I respect their right to do what they please with their art (and the fact that they'll probably make more money doing this than mass-producing the album), this is kind of a shot at the fans.
    GodzillaRAWRRR
    Who?
    robert.cooze.9
    Jean-Michel Jarre did this in 1983 "It is notable for having only a single copy pressed, and the subsequent, deliberate destruction of its master plates, effectively making the copy unique." it was acutioned and played once on radio, Oh it was on display you can wikipedia this album.
    GCanuck_39
    Jean-Michel Jarre did this idea of a single copy first; Music for Supermarkets.
    SilentReaction
    what if someone was to make a kick-starter, everyone donates $1-$10 dollars or whatever, and with enough donations buys the right to the album and then pirates it for free? wu-tang would win because they would make millions, and then the fans would win because if there was enough (say 1 million fans donating $1-10 dollars) they would get the album for cheaper than they would usually.