This past Monday, The RZA and Cilvaringz revealed that the single-copy Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, would carry a caveat for its purchaser: They can only release the album to the public 88 years into the future. A few days later, when XXL Magazine asked group member Method Man his thoughts regarding the album, his response was this: “F*** that album. I’m tired of this shit and I know everybody else is tired of it, too. F*** that album, if that’s what they are doing. I haven’t heard anything like that, but if they’re doing crap like that, f*** that album. Straight up. I’m just keeping it 100. When music can’t be music and y’all turning it into something else, f*** that. Give it to the people, if they want to hear the shit, let them have it. Give it away free. I don’t give a f***. That ain’t making nobody rich or poor. Give the f***ing music out. Stop playing with the public, man.”
As brash and profanity-laced the words of Mr. Meth might be, on the other hand, they are pretty much on point, and I would have to agree with him that the tactic is a disservice to those who want to listen to it. It was questionable enough as is to make an album with one single master-copy and then destroy all its back-up files, but then to reveal that they wouldn’t even be giving its owner the likely option of releasing the music publicly in his/her lifetime is quite simply preposterous. The Wu-Tang Clan has built a loyal world-wide following that eagerly await each new group album, but this tactic will leave their new record completely unlistenable for the vast majority. Especially now, as the original idea about taking Once Upon a Time in Shaolin on a listening tour before auctioning it off was scrapped.
It absolutely shocks me that most media outlets haven’t even touched on the ostensible fact that most of the Wu-Tang’s living fans won’t be alive 88 years in the future to listen to this supposed final album from the group. The RZA has said that the record will carry a sound similar to the group’s early records and have an overall old-school vibe to it, but what will that mean for people nearly a century from now? It’s also been confirmed that the album has unusual guest appearances for a hip-hop album such as members of soccer club FC Barcelona, and Game of Thrones actress Carice van Houten. So how does it make any sense to keep this album from being publicly released now, as Game of Thrones will have certainly finished its series run by then, and who even knows if soccer will even still exist as a sport 88 years from now?
The RZA, the group’s de-facto leader and the album’s spiritual overseer, has giving plenty of explanations as to what justifies such a long hiatus for the album. More often than not though, his words just sound like hare-brained spiritual malarkey. He and Netherlands-based producer Cilvaringz have elaborated on how the album will revolve around the group’s legacy as a whole, and that its singular release method is an attempt to legitimize music as a serious art-form again. I’m fully respectful and knowledgeable towards the group’s immense legacy and devoted following (which I consider myself a part of) but come on, it’s just a rap record! It’s not going to have humanity reach a new plane of consciousness, or re-write the book of physics. Any of this New-Age-Esque crap involving numerology and the significance of the number “8” just can’t be taken seriously for those with a rational mind.
Plus, intentionally making the album carry this grandiose title as being “The secret Wu-Tang album” just makes it come across as gimmicky, and whose to say if the music is even good or not. Most sources would agree that the Wu-Tang’s best days are behind them now, with their last group album A Better Tomorrow having a very ho-hum response, and the RZA has received plenty of criticism for his production choices lately. Of course, the story behind Once Upon a Time in Shaolin isn’t complete yet, as we still haven’t seen which individual will end up buying the album. After that, maybe he/she can give us a more proper opinion on whether the album will still be worth purchasing come the year 2105…or maybe we’ll be too busy playing around with our jet packs to care!
FDRMX Eyes: Check out Luminarty’s music video below. “My Death” is about making choices for yourself and for the ones you love.