While fans eagerly await Wu-Tang Clan’s 20th anniversary reunion album, they might want to turn their attentions to the rap collective’s forthcoming secret album, The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. That is, if they’ve got a few million dollars at their disposal.
According to Forbes.com, Wu intend on manufacturing and selling just one copy of the LP, a double album that’s been under wraps and nearly 20 years in the making.
“We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” RZA told Forbes. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music.”
Why such a drastic marketing strategy? It seems RZA & Co. want to help music become re-established as a form of highly prized and sought after art. “The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” explained RZA. “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 be given away for free.”
And just like, say, a rare Picasso or Rembrandt, the single copy of Once Upon a Time won’t be handed off for mere hundreds. Wu-Tang Clan are tagging the LP with a purchase price “in the millions”.
“We’re making a single-sale collector’s item,” said RZA, adding, “This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
The album will reportedly hit the market after it does a round of exhibitions. Indeed, like any one-of-a-kind piece of art, the Staten Island hip-hop group want the LP shown at museums and galleries around the world before being stored away in some lucky millionaire’s cupboard.
Dates for the tour and exhibitions have yet to be announced.
For more information on the release, read the note below, which is taken from what Forbes says is the album’s official website.
History demonstrates that great musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach are held in the same high esteem as figures like Picasso, Michelangelo and Van Gogh. However, the creative output of today’s artists such as The RZA, Kanye West or Dr. Dre, is not valued equally to that of artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst or Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Is exclusivity versus mass replication really the 50 million dollar difference between a microphone and a paintbrush? Is contemporary art overvalued in an exclusive market, or are musicians undervalued in a profoundly saturated market? 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, as any other contemporary art piece, we hope to inspire and intensify urgent debates about the future of music. We hope to steer those debates toward more radical solutions and provoke questions about the value and perception of music as a work of art in today’s world.
While we fully embrace the advancements in music technology, we feel it has contributed to the devaluation of music as an art form. By taking this step, we hope to re-enforce the weight that music once carried alongside a painting or a sculpture. The album will be put on listening display in renowned galleries, museums, venues and exhibition spaces around the world for only the most dedicated to experience before it disappears into the private collection of a buyer. The public will know that what they will hear will be a once in a life time experience.
A notable few have explored original and creative economic models. Prince, Radiohead and more recently Jay Z and Beyonce have all introduced new financial and distribution models and challenged the industry structure. In 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan introduced the revolutionary ‘Wu-Tang deal’ which allowed the group to sign with one record label as an entity, but sign separate deals with other major labels for solo releases. It was an approach adopted by many groups that followed. Now 21 years later a new approach is introduced, one where the pride and joy of sharing music with the masses is sacrificed for the benefit of reviving music as a valuable art and inspiring debate about its future among musicians, fans and the industry that drives it. Simultaneously, it launches the private music branch as a new luxury business model for those able to commission musicians to create songs or albums for private collections. It is a fascinating melting pot of art, luxury, revolution and inspiration. It’s welcoming people to an old world.”