Are you a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan? How would you like to have the one and only
copy that will ever be made of the influential rap group's new double album?
It can be yours, if you're the highest bidder. The only hitch: The offers are reportedly already running into the millions.
The album, "The Wu—Once Upon A Time In Shaolin…," consists of 31 tracks which have been recorded over the past six years. It was produced by Tarik "Cilvaringz" Azzougarh, "under the tutelage" of the RZA, a founding member of the group. The album features guest appearances by Redman and Bonnie Jo Mason, among others.
The music, we are told, will not be available digitally or in any other existing mass format. The plan is for the album to initially be a traveling exhibit, where fans can pay to hear it "as a one-off experience," before one buyer takes possession of it.
In a statement on a site devoted to the new album, Cilvaringz and the RZA explain the method behind their madness. "History demonstrates that great musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach are held in the same high esteem as figures like Picasso, Michelangelo and Van Gogh. However, the creative output of today’s (recording) artists such as the RZA, Kanye West or Dr. Dre, is not valued equally to that of artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst or Jean-Michel Basquiat…Is contemporary art overvalued in an exclusive market, or are musicians undervalued in a profoundly saturated market?"
OK, modesty isn't the RZA's strong suit. But Wu-Tang Clan are definitely rap royalty. Each of the group's first two albums, 1993's "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" and 1997's double album "Wu-Tang Forever," topped the 2 million mark in U.S. sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Wu-Tang Forever" sold 612K copies in its first week, which was the second-highest first-week sales tally of 1997, just behind Garth Brooks's "Sevens."
Wu-Tang's three subsequent studio albums didn't sell nearly as well. 2000's "The W" sold 1.1 million copies. 2001's "Iron Man" sold 470K. 2007's "8 Diagrams" sold just 202K. A statement on the album's site suggests that the new album was a conscious attempt to recapture the glory of the first two releases. "The album…is produced in the original Wu Tang style of the 90s," it says.