UPDATE: RZA has relayed to Billboard magazine that multiple multi-million dollar offers have already come in for the Wu-Tang Clan‘s secret ‘1 of 1’ album. Speaking via phone from Los Angeles Tuesday, The Abbot told Billboard:
“Offers came in at $2 million, somebody offered $5 million yesterday. I’ve been getting a lot of emails: some from people I know, some from people I don’t know, and they’re also emailing other members of my organization….So far, $5 million is the biggest number….I don’t know how to measure it, but it gives us an idea that what we’re doing is being understood by some. And there are some good peers of mine also, who are very high-ranking in the film business and the music business, sending me a lot of good will. It’s been real positive.”
Although we have no doubt that RZA is flossing at the very highest levels of the international playboy/man of mystery/sensei business, we have to raise an eyebrow at any reports of multimillion dollar bids from “somebody.” We’ve often noted that whenever we hear artists playing for change on the subway, “somebody” always put US$5.00 in the pot to get shit started. Real or reputed, I am pretty confident that this secret Wu project will in fact attract a worthy buyer and find it’s way into a museum near you (or possibly into a deep dark vault owned by a real life Mr. Burns). Either way, just the fact that the Wu are aiming for the mountaintop has introduced a very refreshing spin on the super-luxury artworld tropes that are rampant in this current throne-watching musical landscape. Stay tuned, Wu-believers…!
The Wu-Tang Clan has revealed a scheme to release one copy (that’s right, just one) of The Wu: Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, a double album they’ve apparently been working on in secret over the past few years. The project is mainly produced by Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, working out of a secret Wu-compound on the outskirts of Marrakech, Morocco, in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains (true story, we couldn’t make this shit up). In a move set to redefine the line between fine-art and commercially viable music (turns out those dudes on The Throne aren’t the only ones who have been taking cues from the lavish art world) it will be packaged in a handcrafted nickel and steel box designed by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, who has been commissioned by royal families across the globe for his work. The general idea seems to be that the exclusive “1 of 1” will be chauffeured about to galleries and museums all over the world, in the same fashion as any art exhibit you might have seen, charging between 30 and 50 dollars a pop to listen to. As RZA explained in interview with Forbes magazine:
“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 scepter of an Egyptian king.”
The overarching purpose of the singular release seems to be an effort to realign societal conceptions of what fine art is with the music world, assuming of course, that the two live on opposite ends of the creative spectrum, or even two entirely separate realms all together. However, this writer finds it awfully difficult to imagine that one album–that no one has known about until this point– that’s laying in a metal-box somewhere in Morocco is enough to merge these two worlds into one. Especially if only a fistful of people throughout the entire world have the opportunity to listen to it. After all, even when a Basquiat sells for seven figures, the purchasing party isn’t the only one to ever lay eyes on it. The image is one that thousands of eyes have likely seen and the sheer weight of it is what gives it the hefty price-tag. And the entire business model seems to rest on a fairly risky premise. As Cilvaringz himself point’ out: “One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept.” –which is why the singular album is housed inside a vault
We’ll see how Wu’s venture into the realm of the gallery plays out, but in the meantime we can still look forward to their upcoming 20th anniversary release A Better Tomorrow, which is set to be released this summer. Meanwhile back at the monastery, we’ll keep you posted as any news about potential buyers develops, whether they be megarich individuals or museums. This is obviously only the first chapter in the saga of the Clan-dora’s box, so stay tuned Wu believers. Until then…