The World Might Not Hear the Final Wu-Tang Clan Album for 88 Years. RZA Explains (News)
When the Wu-Tang Clan first began their career as a group in 1993, they completely altered the landscape of music, with their unique initial recording contract forever changing the way groups do business with record labels. Now, in a recent interview with SCLUZAY, RZA says that Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will likely be the Clan’s final album, and their plans for this album will cause a much bigger debate than whether or not group members should be allowed to sign with other labels as solo artists. “Destiny bends, but it feels almost certain that ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin…’ will be the final Wu-Tang Clan album,” said the Wu general.
As most already know, there is only one copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin that exists, and this one copy will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. After initially making this announcement almost a year ago, RZA and Cilvaringz, the album’s producer, gave the interview to provide an update on the status. While owning the physical album is one thing, RZA says that owning the legal distribution rights is another issue he’s been discussing with lawyers, publishers and both art and music executives. RZA says, “When you buy a painting or a sculpture, you are buying that piece rather than the right to replicate it. Owning a [Pablo] Picasso [painting] doesn’t mean you can sell prints or reproductions, but that you are the sole owner of a unique original. And that’s what Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is – it’s a unique original rather than a master copy of an album.” It has been determined that whoever purchases the single copy of the album will not be able to reproduce and distribute copies for commercial use until an 88-year time period has elapsed.
RZA goes on to explain the significance and symbolism of the number 88, “Anyone who knows the Wu-Tang Clan knows that we often apply numerology, mathematics and symbolism to the things we do. There were eight original members of the Clan when we made ‘Protect Ya Neck’ and ‘M.E.T.H.O.D Man.’ The individual numbers of this year also add up to the number eight.” The Abbott continued with more points, before Cilvaringz explains that allowing the resale of the album right away would compromise the integrity of their statement of making the album a single, one-off work of art. For music and art, they’re hoping this move starts some discussion on how artists can bring back value to their work in a time where it can all be downloaded with the click of a button. RZA explains that while 2014’s A Better Tomorrow was for the fans, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is for the artists around the world.
While most Wu-Tang Clan fans of this generation may not be able to hear their final album, there are still a few possibilities explained throughout the interview. It’s possible for the purchaser to make the album available for free download, but this is unlikely as it would tarnish the value of the album. The album can also go on tour to museums and art galleries around the world, something they had initially planned, but RZA says that they’ve now decided to consult with the eventual owner before going on tour, as it should be the owner’s choice whether to share the album with the world this way or to keep it private.
The entire interview can be read here.