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Wu Tang's New Album Has Been Repossessed From Martin Shkreli and Sold By The Justice Department To An Anonymous Buyer. BONUS - New Music Friday

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Justice.gov - Earlier today, the United States sold the sole copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” (the “Album”) which had previously been ordered to be forfeited as a substitute asset in connection with the approximately $7.4 million forfeiture money judgment (Forfeiture Money Judgment) entered against Shkreli at his March 2018 sentencing.  Proceeds from the sale of the Album will be applied to satisfy the outstanding balance owed on the Forfeiture Money Judgment.  The contract of sale contains a confidentiality provision that protects information relating to the buyer and price.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sale of the Album.

“Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself.  With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.  Ms. Kasulis acknowledged the significant efforts of the U.S. Marshals Service and, in particular, the work of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Office of General Counsel and the Complex Asset Unit of the agency’s Asset Forfeiture Division, as well as assistance provided by the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch.

Full disclosure, this news broke a couple of months ago but I somehow had no idea about it until this week. Nonetheless, it's a huge story that deserves more attention. 

For those that have no idea what the fuck is going on, a quick refresher:

In March 2014 RZA, the producer and leader of the Wu-Tang Clan announced that they would create only one copy of their next album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and sell it to the highest bidder. 

“We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”

Leave it to Rza and the Wu to be ahead of the curve yet again. Essentially inventing NFT's before NFT's were a thing.

At first, Wu-Tang stipulated that the buyer was forbidden from releasing the album for 88 years. Eventually they caved and agreed to allow the buyer to do whatever they wanted with the album so long as they didn't release it commercially for profit. AKA "flip it".

That meant they could throw a party and play it for friends and family, listen to it on loop by themselves, or throw it in a bonfire. They could be the only person to ever hear it or they could release it for free on the internet (and be canonized into sainthood by doing so). 

Nobody knows where the album was recorded but it was stored in a vault in Monaco and all masters, engineering tracks, and duplicates were destroyed. It was truly a one-of-a-kind album.

It spanned 31 tracks and came in a handcrafted silver box by the British-Moroccan artist Yahya.

It also included a leather-bound book with 174 pages of actual parchment paper filled with lyrics and background on each of the songs. 

The songs themselves are supposedly incredible. All living Wu-Tang members are prominently featured as well as their extended family like Redman and Killarmy.

Before the auction kicked off, on a site called "Paddle8", offers started pouring in. One bidder, rumored to be Wu Tang superfan Quentin Tarantino offered $5 Million for the album. A Kickstarter campaign was started by fans in hopes to raise enough money to buy it and distribute it for free to the world's Wu-Tang fans, but only raised $15,000.

Later in November 2014, Paddle8 announced the album had sold "for millions" to an anonymous buyer. In March of the following year, the group held a contest through Hot97 for 36 fans to win the chance to attend a listening party. They were treated to a 16-minute session of a few of the album's tracks followed by a Q&A panel held with RZA. Those in attendance that heard those 16 minutes claimed it was the best Wu-Tang material since 36 Chambers. RZA was quoted as saying the Wu-Tang Clan was Mozart and the album was the Mona Lisa. 

Music critic Frere-Jones, who loved what he had heard of the album, wanted to know who the bewitching female singer was on one of the tracks.

“That was Cher,” Cilvaringz said.

“Cher?”

“Yeah, Cher. The Cher.”

It later turned out that the winning bidder was none other than notorious piece of shit Martin Shkreli. 

Shkreli (surprisingly) wouldn’t say how much he paid. But someone familiar with the deal says that the Wu-Tang Clan sold him the album for only $2 million.

You would think a group as financially sound as Wu-Tang would have profited more.

After learning that Bloomberg Businessweek was about to report that Shkreli had purchased the album, RZA e-mailed a statement: “The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”

What's even worse is Shkreli supposedly never even listened to the album. Or let anybody else listen to it. Except for one employee of his whom he sent to the auction house to preview it before wiring the money, to confirm it was all there. He was quoted as saying-

“I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that,” Shkreli says. “But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day.”

Fast forward to 2018 when Shkreli was later convicted of securities fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison. He was forced to hand the album over to the United States as a part of a $7.4 million forfeiture judgment. 

Now, three years later, the Justice Department has sold the album for an unknown amount to an unknown buyer…

The last two years have monumentally sucked. We all could use a W. Whoever it is out there who now owns the rights to this one-of-a-kind work of art needs to do the world a favor and share the wealth. Take your time, throw some house parties for your rich and famous friends, and casually throw this on the Sonos. Let your buddies ask, "wtf is this?" and nonchalantly respond, "oh, just an unreleased, one of one new Wu-Tang album. No big deal."

Get it out of your system. Flex. But after a year, let the rest of us hear it. 

It's what Old Dirty Bastard would want.

Giphy Images.

Here's everything new that dropped in music this past week.

POP

- Taylor Swift dropped a surprise revamp of her beloved 1989 single "Wildest Dreams" 

- Halsey dropped a dramatic live video for the song "I Am Not a Woman, I'm a God"

- Elton John and Charlie Puth unveiled their brand-new duet "After All," a gentle, glowing ballad about true love.

- BTS and Coldplay released their "My Universe" collaboration last night at midnight. "My Universe" is sung in both English and Korean, and includes an official documentary on the making of the song.

- John Legend performed live on Tuesday in LA. He unveiled his unreleased song "Stardust," which he said is his wife Chrissy Teigen's favorite of the many tracks he wrote during the pandemic while bonding with his family.

- Lisa from BLACKPINK has dropped her highly anticipated dance performance video for her Lalisa single "Money"

- Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have unveiled the title track for their upcoming album Love For Sale. 

ROCK

- Guns N’ Roses have unleashed the new song “Hard Skool.” It’s the first official studio recording of a previously unreleased Chinese Democracy-era track.

Earlier this week, the band had rehearsed “Hard Skool” during soundcheck for their show at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The song was rumored to be in the setlist but wasn’t played, possibly due to Axl Rose contracting food poisoning.

“Hard Skool,” which previously had the working title of “Jackie Chan,” is the most old-school sounding GN’R track in years

- Dave Navarro, Taylor Hawkins, and Chris Chaney have formed a new supergroup called NHC, based on the first initial of their last names. The band has now shared its first two songs, “Feed the Cruel” and “Better Move On.”

- Are you listening to the new best music podcast on the interwebs, "On The Guest List"? If not what the fuck are you waiting for? This week we interviewed Fitz, from Fitz And The Tantrums. He ist he fucking man and his story is inspiring as hell.

We also dove into artists that everyone loves but we personally hate-

Get on board.

- Duran Duran have unveiled their new single “TONIGHT UNITED”

- Tom Morello is offering up the next taste of his upcoming album, The Atlas Underground Fire, with the scorching new single “Let’s Get the Party Started.” The song is a collaboration with UK rock act Bring Me the Horizon.

- alt-J have announced their new album, The Dream, out February 11th via Canvasback/Infection Music. As a preview, they unveiled “U&ME,” which marks the British outfit’s first new material in four years. 

- Dream Theater have unveiled their new song “Invisible Monster.” It’s the second track we’ve heard from the band’s forthcoming album, A View from the Top of the World, arriving October 22nd.

- Vended, the band featuring the sons of Slipknot members Corey Taylor and Shawn “Clown” Crahan, have unleashed their debut single “Asylum.”

- This week saw the long-awaited release of St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein’s mockumentary thriller The Nowhere Inn. As the film hits select theaters and video-on-demand services, so too has the St. Vinny’s Nowhere Inn soundtrack dropped on streaming platforms. 

- Brian Wilson has announced At My Piano, a collection of new instrumental takes on Beach Boys hits. The album is out on November 19th via Decca Records.

- Fans tuning into the latest episode of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso may notice there’s a drastically different take on the show’s theme song to fit the dramatically different vibe of the story. Turns out that new version of the music comes from none other than Jeff Tweedy.

HIP HOP

- The Fugees performed a secret pop-up show on Wednesday night (September 22nd) atop New York City’s Pier 17, as the three members of the Fugees put aside their differences to celebrate one of the greatest albums of all time, The Score.

It was a 25-year reunion, and with the time it took for them to arrive on stage, it was truly as if Ms. Lauryn Hill was time-traveling from the year 1997. Never one to be fashionably early, Hill, along with bandmates Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel, sauntered on stage almost four hours past the scheduled start time.

-  J. Cole has dropped a new song titled “Heaven’s EP.” Watch the accompanying Simon Chasalow-directed music video

- Run the Jewels already minted a stone classic with their 2020 single "Ooh La La" featuring Greg Nice and DJ Premier and a killer sample of Gang Starr's 1992 track "Dwyck." But on the brand new deluxe version of their RTJ4 album they rope in Lil Wayne for a guest verse on a remix of the song on which Weezy lays down some of his signature interstellar weirdness.

-  Lil Nas X has finally released his debut studio album, Montero.

Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow’s collaboration, “Industry Baby,” ascends to No. 1 on Billboard’s Rhythmic Airplay chart.

-Heaven and Hell by Kanye West

    Yes, Hurricane and Moon are absolute stars on Donda, and Jail hits that special itch with the return of the throne, there’s no disputing any of that.  However among the frey of the mostly slow collaborations lies this hidden gem, and I have to argue it’s a certified banger.  It feels like old Kanye with a mixture of his new evangelical touch.  What does any of that mean? I have no fucking clue, go listen to it.  All I know is Heaven and Hell delivers that serotonin boost I was asking for, and any rap song that makes me feel like I’m about to step into a UFC ring is a winner in my book.

- Big Freedia is back with her new EP Big Diva Energy via East West Records.

T.I. isn't mincing words on his new song "Fuck Em."

The track comes after news broke that neither the rapper (né Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) nor his wife, Tameka "Tiny" Harris, will face charges stemming from a 2005 incident involving a woman who alleged that the couple drugged and sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles.

EDM

- After two album singles, “Alive” and “Next to Me,” RÜFÜS DU SOL‘s fourth studio LP has both a name and a date. Surrender, the successor to 2018’s SOLACE, will land on October 21 and now, just shy of a month from the project’s due date, Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt are continuing to shape Surrender‘s sound through a heady rollout of pre-album singles that triangulates with “On My Knees.”

- Calvin Harris has opted to deliver most of his Love Regenerator material across EP releases. The producer has released his fifth EP and second collaborative work under the Love Regenerator project in just under two years. Rollercoaster is a two-track collaborative body of work with British duo Solardo–who had first mentioned the release in an exclusive one-on-one with Dancing Astronaut this past January—featuring title track “Rollercoaster” in addition to “All of a Sudden.”

- On the heels of “Hard Street,” featuring ALRT and Nessly, arrives Wax Motif‘s fourth collaborative single of 2021. “Thank You,” co-produced by Kaelyn Behr, is a disco-house-leaning end-of-summer anthem.

- After trading a series of remixes, both Armin van Buuren and Steve Aoki have at last aligned for their first original production, “Music Means Love Forever,” released via Dim Mak Records. The two dance music heavyweights assemble a festival anthem for the ages by fusing acid-electro basslines and bigroom house synths duly fit for main stages across the world.

- R U HIGH (feat. Mallrat) - Single by The Knocks

"R U HIGH" featuring Mallrat is one of the knocks latest singles to come out in 2021. There’s not much to say about this track except after-party vibes. Leaving the bar with friends at 3 AM and you need something to keep the night going. This is your track, hit play and enjoy the hangover my friends. 

- Sunglasses at Night by Alok & Hollaphonic

I say this with outright conviction, what an absolute rocket ship.  First off, 80’s samples and EDM? A must. It only ever always works.  Here I was thinking that Fisher was the end all be all of mainstream tech house, boy I could not have been more wrong.  Imagine jamming in the club to that sick Bohemian Rhapsody x Losing It mashup (you know the one) and that sly fox of a dj slides this bad boy in right after, all hell could open loose.  Very sneaky of Alok, the guy who made Brazilian bass the trend it is today, to hide this side of himself from us.  Be sure to keep an ear out for this track as it’s sure to be a new club-goers favorite.  

Stream Sunglasses at Night here:

- Holiday Hills by Loud Luxury

    “omg another Loud Luxury song that sounds the same blah blah blah” …  AND!? What more could anyone want??  I for one am happy my summers start and end with yet another Loud Luxury banger.  This track is certified for pool playlists, beach bangers, and boat boolin’.  Loud Luxury in their true fashion keeps it light and plucky in Holiday Hills with their signature bass bouncing formula and distorted upbeat vocals.  With yet another summer feel-good singalong track under their belt, Holiday Hills is sure to keep the energy flowing for these last few weeks of warmer weather.  So grab a nooner, kick back, and que it up. 

- Never Enough by Disclosure comes off their latest house EP Never Enough which came out this year. Now we are getting there. A deep house hit from Disclosure. This is for the select few who listen to nothing but house music. If this is your first experience with house I would like to formally apologize in advance because you aren’t going to want to listen to anything else after this. Be sure to check the entire EP with a full review coming soon

COUNTRY

- Bassist Bob Moore, a member of Nashville's revered "A Team" group of session musicians, has died at age 88.

"Bob Moore’s contributions to American music are incalculable," Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young said via a statement following Moore's death. "He was a musical master and the most-recorded bass player in country music history. As a key member of the much-vaunted 'A-Team' of Nashville session players, he was both an inspiration and an innovator."

- Viewers of the finale of Nicole Kidman's Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers will hear a familiar voice as part of music featured in the episode. Country artist -- and Kidman's husband -- Keith Urban recently wrote and recorded a new song, "Crimson Blue," which will be included when the series finale aired Wednesday, Sept. 22.

- Kacey Musgraves scores her biggest week for an album, in terms of equivalent album units, as Star-Crossed blasts in atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated Sept. 25), marking her fourth leader.

- Born This Way (The Country Road Version) by Orville Peck

    Did Lady Gaga’s Born This Way need a country cover? Not really.  Did Orville Peck knock this out of the ballpark and straight into another galaxy? Without a doubt.  Country music fan or not you need to listen to this beauty.  Orville delivers an outstanding performance of highs and lows that will floor any listener.  Somehow Peck delivers this track just right for both simply sitting and listening or blaring it in your car on a long and winding road, and when that 2010’s pop nostalgia sets in you can’t help but crack a smile.  Get ready to sing this at the top of your lungs because you already know every word. 

- Lainey Wilson notches her first No. 1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart (dated Sept. 25) with her debut entry, "Things a Man Oughta Know."

- new Carly Pearce, 29 - Written in Stone

- new Scotty McCreery - Same Truck

- new Florida Georgia Line - “Always Gonna Love You”

- new Old Dominion - Hawaii

- Jameson Rodgers - Bet You’re From A Small Town

- new Laine Hardy -  Here’s to Anyone

Playlists for your weekend -

(Follow these to stay updated on everything new. We will be updating them weekly.)

Mixes for your weekend -

Thanks to Caleb and Kyle.

If I missed anything or you'd like to submit something for next week, send to dante@barstoolsports.com