Wu Tang Clan: Releasing One Copy Too Many Of Their New LP
WU TANG CLAN have never been more popular, mainly because people who don’t really like hip hop really like wearing their t-shirts, throwing up ironic ‘Wu’ handsigns in photographs and smoking weed now and then. For real fans of The Wu, they know how arduous it is trying to follow everything they do.
What that actually means is that, when you factor in all the solo albums, collabs and guest spots, there’s an amazing amount of dreck released under the Wu banner. There’s gold in them thar Wu Hills, but by god, you have to dig deep to find it these days.
Of course, there was a period when it felt like everything they released was audio dynamite. The last decent release was Ghostface’s ‘Apollo Kids’, but really, after the initial (and admittedly dizzyingly outstanding) spurt, they’ve been a bit off the boil.
And now, they’re readying a new album and there will only be one copy to be bought.
The lone copy of ‘The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ is under lock and key in a Moroccan vault and it will be toured in museums and art galleries before eventually being sold to a wealthy buyer.
“We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” said the RZA. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the sceptre of an Egyptian king.”
“The music industry is in crisis,” members of the group wrote on a new website for the album. “The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero. Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity. By adopting a 400 year old Renaissance-style approach to music, offering it as a commissioned commodity and allowing it to take a similar trajectory from creation to exhibition to sale… we hope to inspire and intensify urgent debates about the future of music.”
The RZA is right of course. If you want to make money on music in 2014, you need a new model. So if hip hop heads are willing to contribute via a tour, staring at a silver box which they can’t hear, so be it.
The album won’t be available on iTunes either.
Of course, it only takes one person to leak the LP and the whole concept falls down like a house of cards (which, incidentally, would make an excellent title for a Wu Tang album).
If there’s one thing you can give to the Wu, is that they’re great at keeping their toe in the waters of popular culture. The GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’ reissues have come with chess sets and Ghostface released one album in conjunction with a comic book.
If the Wu have any clout, they will avoid actually recording any music for this touring The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin box, to ensure that there’s zero chance of it leaking to the public.
It’d be a great stunt if that was the case and, more importantly, it would save Wu Tang fans the heartache of having to wade through yet another so-so Wu Tang longplayer.