Mess with the Wu
Daniel Barabasi | Wednesday, April 2, 2014
“MZA, who was that? Ayo, the Wu is back”
As announced last week, the Wu Tang Clan has indeed made its return, with their 20th anniversary album, “The Wu — Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.” The album is a self-declared “piece of contemporary art” and the “first ever private music album,” according to the Edictum posted by producers Cilvaringz and The RZA.
The description sounds grand, but they have the wow-factor to back it: Only one copy of the 31-track album will be produced, and it will be sold in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by British-Moroccan artist Yahya. Before the album is sold, offers have been made up to $5 million. It will be offered to the public at “listening events,” which will include museums, galleries and music festivals.
The website devoted to the project, properly titled EZCLZIV SCLUZAY, details the purpose behind their alternate method. The Concept and Edictum sections proclaim how the “music industry is in crisis,” as the ease of mass production of albums and songs devalues the creativity, reducing it as an art form. Yet, the major arguments revolve around money, as the website encourages the turn to artistic commissions in the music industry in order to reduce the $50 million difference between a microphone and a paintbrush. Ironic, coming from the rap group worth at least $100 million.
As grandiose as the plan may sound, it does not even compare to the ambition motivating the group to write verses together, and that’s only after actually collecting the rambly bunch together in a room.
Formerly, the Wu Tang consisted of nine members: The RZA, who was considered the head of the team, The GZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon the Chef, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa and U-God. Now, with ODB six feet under, and former unofficial 10th member Cappadonna accepted into the group, The RZA struggles to maintain his former control amidst the clash of even bigger and richer egos.
To commemorate the upcoming album and encourage its release, I’d like to take a moment to offer a way to mess with the Wu Tang Clan because, you know, they specifically ask you not to.
Record “The Wu — Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.”
Since only one copy of the album will be produced, the idea is that it will not appear on Spotify or YouTube. Once it finishes its tour, listening to it will only be at the discretion of the poor sap who shelled out $5 million for the masterpiece.
This is pretty much an open invitation to mess with the Wu Tang. It has been announced that the listening events will be heavily screened for recording devices. So, all you need to do is figure out how to sneak one in and then post the album online.
There’s also the added bonus of getting to meet the Wu Tang if you get caught. Because, I assure you, they will personally escort you outside and break your knees.
Perhaps this is the sort of moment of unity the Wu Tang needs. In an in-depth interview with “Grantland,” the Wu Tang showed their inner doubts at the entire ordeal. The RZA, supposed leader of the group, asked the interviewer whether he feels the group is optimistic, or if they’re questioning the leadership. Masta Killa reminisces about when they first got together and were having fun, something he doesn’t see now, and doesn’t want the group to end on a weak note.
In the end, the community has to lay its hope in the words of Inspectah Deck. “The nucleus has separated. Once RZA throws up that Batman symbol, that Wu-Tang ‘W,’ it’s goin’ be on again.”
That’s all that’s left to do: Raise the W and reenter the slums of Shaolin.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.