Single-copy Wu-Tang Clan record will be their last – unavailable until 2103

Over the past year, the journey of the single-copy Wu-Tang album, “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,” has managed to keep our attention, as the group’s attempt to sell it has seen many iterations. Aside from a very short and distorted clip, little had been revealed about the record until a select group of people were treated to 13 minutes of it earlier this week, and RZA used that evening to confirm it will be their final album together. It also won’t be commercially available for the better part of a century.

Taking place at MoMA PS1 on Monday night, a handful of music industry insiders and contest winners were gathered so interested parties could promote the importance of the record which will be auctioned off on the Paddle8 website. The one big catch for the lucky buyer is that the public and commercial rights are owned exclusively by the performers and producers for the next 88 years, after which the buyer can release it should they so choose. The number was chosen to represent the original members of the group, as well as the sum of the digits 2015.

Along with these restrictions, RZA took a moment at the end of the evening to confirm that as a group, Wu-Tang Clan will not record formally ever again. When asked this direct question by esteemed music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, RZA responded with an emphatic, “I’m done, kid!” In reality this means that aside from a very small handful of individuals, the final recording of Wu-Tang Clan will never be heard by those who helped make the group hip hop icons: the fans.

While RZA and his partners can go on all they want about this being an art project and trying to “change the perception of both art and music,” in the eyes of most people, it’s simply pretentious. Oddly enough, most fans have just shrugged their shoulders and chalked it up to a man thinking far too much of himself. Combine that with the lukewarm “A Better Tomorrow,” and all you have left is a tarnished legacy.

Theoretically, the winning bidder could release the 31-track album for free, but after paying what is likely to be a seven digit figure for the album itself, logic says it will become a museum piece or hidden forever in a private collection. There is perhaps no better fitting a way to describe the real motivation behind the project than the words of one of Wu-Tang’s best known songs: “cash rules everything around me.”

Joel Freimark hosts a daily music-related webseries here and you can follow his daily music musings and suggestions HERE as well.


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