Well now, there are all sorts of new rules being written this week. Forbes today broke the news that Wu-Tang will only release 1 single solitary copy of their next project, The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. So how eactly is that going to work you ask? Well the only existing copy of the LP will live in a custom engraved, silver and nickel display box (see above) made by British-Moroccan artist Yahya. The Clan will not release the album to the public through traditional channels, but instead hope to put the piece on exhibit at museums, art galleries and music festivals for fans to view and hear (for a fee, of course).
Once the album has completed its tour of the world, it will be auctioned off to a single buyer for a price that the RZA expects to be “in the millions.” At that point, the buyer can decide what they want to do with it, but as Forbes’ Zach O’Malley Greenburg notes, it could potentially be purchased by a record label who could then in turn release it widely to retail, or by an individual who may decide to leak it for free. So to recap: the only way you’ll be able to hear this album is if you have the opportunity to catch it at one the exhibitions. The album will not be duplicated (by the Wu at least) and it may or may not ever see a widespread retail release.
The RZA explained to Forbes:
“We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” says Robert “RZA” Diggs, the first Wu-Tang member to speak on record about Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, in an exclusive interview with FORBES. “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.”
This whole idea is completely insane and I love it. The fact is, this is already paying dividends to Wu-Tang because we’re talking about it. And more importanly, we’re talking about a new way to bring music to the public. Like Jay-Z’s Samsung deal before it, it may not be a realistic option for everybody (or really anybody else), but it’s certainly a conversation starter. People are going to talk about this shit for months because it sounds absurd at first blush. That being said, I have no doubt that there’s some independently wealthy Wu Stan out there that will put up a ridiculous amount of money to cop this. And failing that, I don’t see why a label wouldn’t make the investment. I wish I had the bank to cop it and release it to the world for free, but that’s probably not gonna happen anytime soon.
Hit Forbes for more info on the The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin including the story behind how producer Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh came up with idea and more commentary from RZA.