10 Facts About The Wu-Tang Clan Album You May Never Hear

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10 Facts About The Wu-Tang Clan Album You May Never Hear

Despite being shrouded in secrecy, more details are emerging about the one of a kind album, "The Wu: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin."

In 1997, on Wu-Tang Forever song “Bells of War” RZA infamously quipped that the next Wu-Tang album would come back with a comet in the year 2000. And while 2000’s The W arrived on schedule three years later, there was no moving of any celestial bodies. Since then, additional Wu-Tang albums have arrived with some amount of internal discord attached, and constantly evolving major label recording industry business models have made dividing royalties nine ways a difficult prospect.

RZA and his protégé Cilvaringz may have found a way to simultaneously eliminate both of the above issues. On March 26, Zack O’Malley Greenburg of Forbes.com exclusively reported Wu-Tang Clan would release a single copy of a secret album tentatively titled, The Wu: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The album is being presented as a commissioned art piece, with the intention of increasing its cultural cache as well as fetching a nice price from a potential buyer and a subsequent tour.

Wu-Tang Clan fans know the Staten Island, New York collective kicked off their career shrouded in secrecy over 20 years ago. Each member’s face was both masked and cloaked in a dark hood on the front cover of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Perhaps it’s only right the Clan reboot their legacy in a mysterious way. Through various interviews, more details are emerging about The Wu: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Here are the most pertinent facts about the Wu-Tang Clan album you may never hear (unless you’re a millionaire or willing to pony up to see the exhibit/tour).

The Album Container Was Handcrafted By British-Moroccan Artist Yahya 

According to a press release for his 2013 “Invisible Light” collaborative exhibition with Mehdi Qotbi at Institut du Monde Arabe, Yahya describes himself as a self-taught artist who anchors his work in a particularly demanding ancestral craft of copperware. He specializes in the convergence of Eastern elegance and Western minimalism. In this case, Yahya crafted a silver and nickel box.

“A lot of the things that I do—from palaces…huge architectural things or tiny, intricate things—have been made by hand,” Yahya told Greenburg. “So I couldn’t really work out how we could do something together.”

After being given complete creative freedom and agreeing to sign a confidentiality agreement, it appears Yahya, RZA and Cilvaringz solved the problem

There Is Only One Known Copy In Existence

According to a 2010 study by DailyFinance.com, the average CD price in 2010 was $13.02 compared to $14.04 in 2000. Adjusted for inflation, compact discs were estimated to cost $17.83 in 2010, meaning fans saved roughly 25 percent compared to 14 years ago. What does all this mean? Various factors are driving down the value of commoditized music. Exclusivity is one of the few ways to raise that price.

“It belongs in an art setting, venue, a museum, or a gallery,” RZA  explained of the one-off art piece in an April interview with HipHopDX. “It’s as rare as any Picasso, any Van Gogh. It’s as rare—as I said in my article—as finding an Egyptian scepter. It’s as rare as the Mona Lisa. It’s rare, yo. It’s only one.”

The Title Is “The Wu: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin”

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Given the understandably secretive nature of RZA and Cilvaringz’s undertaking, it’s safe to assume either one or both of them came up with this title without putting it to a nine-man group vote.

The Album Clocks In At 128 minutes, 31 Songs

When vinyl was originally en vogue, the average album maxed out at 41 minutes, because that was the maximum length one could fit on an LP without compromising sound quality. With such a high price tag, at least the Wu-Tang Clan’s potential benefactor is getting their money’s worth. Just for comparison’s sake, the longest Wu-Tang Clan album (1997’s double album Wu-Tang Forever) is 112 minutes and six seconds spread across 27 tracks. So someone may potentially be paying millions of dollars for an album slightly longer than Wu-Tang Forever.

RZA Is Positioning The One-Of-A-Kind Album As An Art Piece

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