Remember how the Wu-Tang Clan announced a secret new album that’s being released as a single copy and will be toured around the world like a piece of art before being auctioned off for somewhere “in the millions”?
Yeah, that happened, and now the pricey offers are starting to flood in for The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin; a 31-track double LP that was recorded in secret over two decades that comes in its own opulent nickel-silver casing, hand-carved by British-Morrocon artisan Yahya. Basically, it’s the Mona Lisa of rap.
So how much are we talking for this prized possession? Well, to be blunt, far more than you can afford.
“Somebody offered $5 million,” reveals Wu-Tang’s own Robert ‘RZA’ Diggs, who was the mastermind behind the one-of-a-kind concept.
Speaking to Billboard, RZA casually revealed that initially “offers came in at $2 million… [but] so far, $5 million is the biggest number.” And seeing as that bid only came in the last few days, the number is bound to soar even higher (and further away from the average fan’s clutches). “Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity. This album is a piece of contemporary art.”
However, it’s not totally out of the public’s reach. The other important aspect of the concept-driven album – which RZA has likened to “the scepter of an Egyptian king” – is that it will travel around the world’s museums, galleries and arts festivals where visitors will be able to listen to it on a pair of headphones.
Before the bidding war for the collector’s item began, co-producer Tarik ‘Cilvaringz’ Azzougarh nervously admitted their idea “sounds crazy… It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed.”
Adding: “One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept… After five years, I’m sitting here and I’m like, ‘Am I really going to release this record and see it die after a week?”
However, their risk has obviously paid off.
“It’s been real positive,” RZA chirped, following the news of the initial offers.
“I don’t know how to measure it, but it gives us an idea that what we’re doing is being understood by some,” he added. “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.”
What they’re doing, according to RZA, isn’t just executing a superfluous stroke of marketing genius, but making an artistic commentary about the state of the music industry in 2014 – that the art behind music has been lost.
“The main theme is music being accepted and respected as art and being treated as such,” the prominent clan member explains. “If something is rare, it’s rare. You cannot get another.”
The manifesto on the project’s website provides further information about the high-concept album. It reads: “The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero… Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity. This album is a piece of contemporary art.”
The touring exhibit for The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin has yet to be given an official release date, so while we all cry into our empty wallets and accept the fact we’ll never own that lavish-looking silver box and its ultra-rare contents, we can at least take solace in knowing that Wu Tang’s upcoming reunion album, A Better Tomorrow, will actually available at a price tag suited to the general public (… and not just Gina Rinehart).
Take a listen to ‘Family Reunion’, the first taste from A Better Tomorrow, out this July, below.