The legendary hip hop collective, The Wu Tang Clan, have approached the release of their new – and secretly recorded – album in a slightly different manner to that of the mainstream artists today. In a bid to highlight the lack of respect for music as an art form, one copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will be made, released and sold.
The Wu Tang Clan perform at Virgin Mobile Festival
The price will, of course, represent the extremely rare status of the album and reach millions of dollars, but the message remains the same. In doing this, the ‘Tang’ have equated their 31-song double-album works usually found in museums and galleries; the works of the impressionists and unique, priceless artefact of culture.
"The music industry is in crisis," the group explain on their website. "The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero. Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity ... By adopting a 400 year old Renaissance-style approach to music, offering it as a commissioned commodity and allowing it to take a similar trajectory from creation to exhibition to sale ... we hope to inspire and intensify urgent debates about the future of music."
Interestingly, the album will lay encased in a specially carved box, handcrafted by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, who has been commissioned by The Royal Family and other prominent business leaders in the past. The box will remain in the outskirts of Marrakesh beneath the Atlas mountains – because if you’re going to make a single copy of an album and treat it like a piece of priceless art, then you might as well treat it like one.
The group hope releasing just a singe copy will remind people of the value of music
“The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” explained RZA to Forbes. “And yet its doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free.”