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You Won’t Probably Never Listen To This Wu-Tang Clan Album

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This Wu-Tang Clan album release is getting more and more mysterious! Since last year we know that the Wu-Tang Clan has recorded another album beside ‘A Better Tomorrow’, and it will cost millions to a very rich fan to buy ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’, as it will be released in a very limited edition of one. And it’s such a crazy idea in this digital Spotify age, when everybody is sharing music for free on the internet, what if there is a leak one day? The rap band has decided to defy the idea as the album is housed ‘in a custom-made nickel-and-silver box in a Moroccan vault’, and last year they said they wanted to take the single edition on tour, charging people to hear it on headphones with heavy security around… again crazy idea! (consider it a corrective to Ghosface Killah, he won’t stop releasing albums -Ed)

But that’s not it. According to Forbes, the auction to buy the album has started through Paddle8, and if you sign to the site you will be able to read whatever you have always wanted to know about the making of the album. But I can say there’s another surprise: the eventual buyer won’t be allowed to publicly release the album for 88 years according to copyright law.

We thought long and hard about whether to defy art world conventions and transfer all rights to public release to the buyer. But we genuinely felt that a swift public release after such a radical concept would neutralize the statement we are making. So we decided that the right to release the album would be transferred only after 88 years have passed, ‘ said Cilvaringz, executive manager and hip hop producer of the Wu-Tang Clan.

And the choice of 88 is not a coincidence of course: ‘Anyone who knows the Wu-Tang Clan knows we often apply numerology,’ explains RZA, ‘mathematics and symbolism to the things we do. There were 8 original members of the Clan when we made Protect Ya Neck and M.E.T.H.O.D Man. The individual numbers of this year also add up to the number 8. The broker of this work carries the number 8 in its name. The number 8 on its side is a symbol of infinity, as it was used on our album Wu-Tang Forever. You can call it mathematical coincidence, but it’s always had great symbolic significance for us. For us it also addresses the issue of music’s longevity in a time of mass production and short attention spans. Nothing about this record revolves around short-term gains, but rather around the legacy of the music and the statement we’re making.’

I see, they are having fun with numerology, but the concept has a deeper meaning:

‘Art is extreme,’ continues RZA. ‘For art to change the way people think, it has to come from an extreme place. No monumental change ever started with a compromise or a small shift. It starts extreme. Once the impact is felt, then we can see about compromises, but that first statement has to hit home.’

By doing this, the Wu Tang Clan is ‘trying to re-attach values to music for the benefit of all kinds of musicians’, as they hope that this will have an impact on struggling artists, ‘When recorded music loses its monetary value, it’s the little guy who suffers most’.

But why would anyone pay millions for an album? ‘This is not something you should want to own because of the price tag, but because it’s a fingerprint, like a strand of DNA’, continues RZA. ‘it stands alone. It’s a piece of history, and the seal to a legacy. The buyer would be the only person in the world to possess a historic, unheard and never to be released Wu-Tang Clan album. Not a single copy or backup of this work exists—neither I nor any Clan member has a copy. There is only one.’

88 years is a long time though, all the members of the Clan and I will be long dead! The buyer himself will probably die before he/she is allowed to release it and I just wonder how they are going to be able to make anyone respect this 88-year contract.

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