Hipgnosis Songs has acquired a 50% stake in the copyright and writers share of iconic Wu-Tang Clan leader, producer and MC RZA, the company announced today (Aug. 24). The worldwide deal encompasses 814 songs, including almost the entire Wu-Tang Clan catalog, which RZA largely produced, as well as songs by Kanye West, The Notorious B.I.G., The Game, Earl Sweatshirt and more.
RZA is considered the lead of the Wu-Tang Clan, the nine-member hip-hop collective that exploded out of Staten Island in the early 1990s and would go on to redefine the rap world, not just artistically but in a business sense, too, with RZA playing a role in securing the rights for each member to sign solo recording deals in addition to the group’s record deal. RZA provided the soundscape for each of the Clan’s albums, beginning with 1993’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), as well as solo albums for members Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and GZA, among others, as well as his own solo albums and film soundtracks. He’s widely considered among the greatest hip-hop producers of all time.
For Hipgnosis and founder Merck Mercuriadis, this represents the latest high-profile catalog in which they’ve purchased a stake in recent months. Blondie, Barry Manilow, Rodney Jerkins, No I.D., Mark Ronson, Jack Antonoff and more are some of the artists whose catalogs Hipgnosis has acquired outright or a stake in of late.
“RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan did not invent hip-hop, but they took it from being fun to something that represented a true reflection of what the streets, and being black in America was really like,” Mercuriadis said in a statement. “They were and are the most authentic band and brand in hip-hop and it all starts with RZA’s vision, his songs and his struggle, manifested in music, that could show the entire world what was really going on. He is now globally recognized as a true renaissance man of hip-hop and most would argue that he is the GOAT.”
“I wear various hats in my artistic expressions but the one that has been so deeply reflective of my life’s journey is my songwriting,” RZA said in a statement. “I’m honored to partner up with Merck and the Hipgnosis team to usher my songs into an exciting future.”