"This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king," says RZA of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin."
The Wu-Tang Clan have been busy trying to finish "A Better Tomorrow," the proper full-length follow-up to 2007's "8 Diagrams" that doubles as a 20th anniversary celebration. However, the veteran rap collective has also revealed another new project, the double-album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin," that has been recorded in secret over the past six years… and they're only making one copy of it.
In an interview with Forbes, Wu-Tang mastermind RZA and "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" producer Tarik "Cilvaringz" Azzougarh describe an elaborate rollout of the project, which will be "toured" through galleries, festivals and museums like any other exclusive work of art. The 128-minute, 31-song opus will be heard in full at these exhibitions under heavy security, and when those TBD tour dates are finished, the group will make the album available to a single entity, for a price "in the millions."
"We're about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before," says RZA. "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."
The single edition of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" will sit in a hand-carved, nickel-silver box designed by Yahya, a British Moroccan artist. According to an official site containing information about the album, the double LP will feature the full Clan, as well as guests like Bonnie Jo Mason, Redman and FC Barcelona soccer players (!).
"The music industry is in crisis," reads a manifesto on the site. "Creativity has become disposable and value has been stripped out. Mass production and content saturation have devalued both our experience of music and our ability to establish its value. Industrial production and digital reproduction have failed. The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero. Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity. This album is a piece of contemporary art."
No exhibition dates have been announced yet for "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin." "A Better Tomorrow," meanwhile, is on track for a standard commercial release this summer; a new song, "Keep Watch," surfaced online last week.