Forbes - Somewhere on the outskirts of Marrakech, Morocco, inside a vault housed beneath the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, there sits an engraved silver-and-nickel box with the potential to spawn a shift in the way music is consumed and monetized.
The lustrous container was handcrafted over the course of three months by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, whose works have been commissioned by royal families and business leaders around the world. Soon, it will contain a different sort of art piece: the Wu-Tang Clan’s double-album The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, recorded in secret over the past few years.
Like the work of a master Impressionist, it will truly be one-of-a-kind—in lieu of a traditional major label or independent launch, the iconic hip-hop collective will make and sell just one copy of the album. And similar to a Monet or a Degas, the price tag will be a multimillion-dollar figure.
“We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” says Robert “RZA” Diggs, the first Wu-Tang member to speak on record about Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, in an exclusive interview with FORBES. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
Wu-Tang’s aim is to use the album as a springboard for the reconsideration of music as art, hoping the approach will help restore it to a place alongside great visual works–and create a shift in the music business, not to mention earn some cash, in the process. The one-of-a-kind launch will be a separate endeavor from the group’s 20th anniversary album, A Better Tomorrow, which is set for a standard commercial release this summer.
According to RZA and the album’s main producer Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, a Morocco-based part of Wu-Tang’s extended family, the plan is to first take Once Upon A Time In Shaolin on a “tour” through museums, galleries, festivals and the like.
Just like a high-profile exhibit at a major institution, there will be a cost to attend, likely in the $30-$50 range. Visitors will go through heavy security to ensure that recording devices aren’t smuggled in; as an extra precaution, they’ll likely have to listen to the 128-minute album’s 31 songs on headphones provided by the venue.
As Cilvaringz puts it: “One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept.”
Wu Tang! Love Wu Tang. Every high school white boy’s top 3 favorite rap group. Eminem, Jay Z and Wu Tang headlining the wigger playlist all throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Love this move they’re pulling here too. Spicing shit up a little bit. Seriously downloading music illegally is so boring. Cruising Zippyshare and Hulkshare and Zollo playlists gets so old and tedious. Give me an album I have no shot of ever getting my hands on and can only listen to in some major art institution on venue provided headphones. A white whale of rap. That shit is so baller.
Now that I think about it if Barstool doesn’t buy this we really have no idea about our future and how investments work. Name a more mogul move than buying the 1 single copy of an album that is hidden in a vaulted house beneath the shadow of the Aztec Mountains on the outskirts of Morocco. It doesn’t exist.