Wu Tang To Sell Only One Copy Of Next Album, Says It Will Be Like “The Scepter of An Egyptian King”
Quick, everyone think of an equally insane analogy. It will be like...moisturizer made from Pegasus' tears?
In a recent interview with Forbes to discuss their upcoming album, Wu Tang member RZA spared no hyperbole when describing its highly unorthodox distribution plan. In a bid to remind listeners that music can be a commodity like any other fine art, Wu Tang will be releasing only one (ludicrously expensive) copy of the secretly recorded work.
“We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before” RZA said exclusively to Forbes about the upcoming release of The Wu–Once Upon A Time in Shaolin — and at least in terms of the case the single album will be housed in, that might actually be an understatement.
The album’s buyer will receive the highly limited edition copy in a decadent silver and nickel case handcrafted over three months by Yahya, a British-Moroccan artist who typically works on commission for royalty. The ostentatious case is currently hidden in a vault underneath Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Says RZA of the album cover you definitely do not want to lose in your car’s backseat: “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
Why single sale? Explains RZA,
The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years. 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.
RZA seems to be implying that casual pirating is diminishing respect for music as an art form–so to combat that, Wu Tang is going the anti-In Rainbows route and treating Once Upon A Time, as Forbes puts it, like “a Monet or a Degas” — and assigning it a (arguably arbitrary) value that will be reflected in the work’s likely multimillion dollar price tag. Obviously, as the album’s main producer Tarik “Cilvaringz ” says, “One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept.”
However, that doesn’t mean Wu Tang won’t give fans access to the album. Instead, their audience will have to listen to Once Upon A Time in the same highly secure and often expensive setting that, again, is typically reserved for paintings by Monet or Degas. Before the album is sold to a wealthy bidder, RZA and Cilvaringz told Forbes it will be taken on a tour of galleries and museums where fans can listen to the 128 minute, 31-song album through headphones. Heavy security will prevent recording devices from being smuggled in, and tickets will reportedly cost $30-50.
Once the album completes its tour and is purchased by a business or wealthy individual, it will be up to the new owner to decide whether or not to make Once Upon A Time available to the public.
Obviously, Wu Tang’s decision to emphasize their music’s value as a commodity and equate it to the most traditionally valued (if monetary value is any indication) works of art will likely make the album inaccessible to fans who aren’t extreme billionaires/can’t afford museum admittance. Says Cilvaringz:
I know it sounds crazy. It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed. But the essence and core of our ideas is to inspire creation and originality and debate, and save the music album from dying.