"This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king," says RZA
Hip-hop artists and other musicians have long insisted their work ought to be treated like any other piece of fine art. Now, the Wu-Tang Clan is putting its money where its mouth is to back up that assertion. The acclaimed hip-hop group will create a lone copy of its long-rumored, secret double-album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which will tour museums, galleries and festivals.
“We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music,” Wu-Tang member RZA told Forbes. “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
Those who wish to hear the 31-track, 128-minute record will likely need to pay a fee to attend an exhibit featuring the album, and will need to pass through heavy security to safeguard against surreptitious recording. “One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept,” said Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, the album’s main producer.
After its tour is completed, Wu-Tang plans to sell the lone copy of the album, which will be stored in a handcrafted silver-and-nickel box. Whether the buyer will be a brand, record label or private citizen — any of whom could choose to either release the album to the public or keep it for themselves — remains a mystery.