Wu Tang Clan to release exclusive album, revolutionize music industry
Deep in Marrakech, Morocco, stowed away inside a locked vault, rests a tiny box forged from silver and nickel securing the contents of the Wu-Tang Clan's secret album, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin. Hand-crafted by British-Moroccan artist, Yahya, a highly recommended jeweler for Harrods and Saudi princes, the carefully measured, finely polished, one-of-a-kind silver box holds more than a simple recording. It carries with it years of theoretical deliberation, the opportunity to turn the hopes of a musicians played out dream into a reality, the potential to reestablish the lost intrinsic worth of music.
Earlier this month, the Wu-Tang Clan publically announced the existence of Once Upon A Time in Shaolin. The Clan plans to take the album on an exclusive tour through museums, art galleries and festivals before auctioning off the album at a multimillion-dollar starting price. Taking precaution, upon sampling the album before the auction, the audience will go through heavy security to prevent expected pirating. They will be required to listen to the 128-minute-long album through headphones.
Truly, the production of this album fosters a curious methodology. Interestingly enough the apparent question remains: Is the intrinsic value of music worth more because of virtue in exclusivity?
In a Forbes interview, Robert “RZA” Diggs, one of the earliest members of the Wu-Tang Clan, stated, “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 collectors item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
For the Clan, the aim of the album is to inspire reconsideration of music as an art. If all goes according to plan, following the awaited auction, the rights to the album's contents will be left to the buyer. Potentially, the album could be bought and kept in exclusivity, harboring the intrinsic worth it was bought for, or, generously, it could be released to the public for free and diminish its unique value.
For many critics, this bold production scheme is bound to fail due to the devaluing effects of the Internet. Although for the Wu-Tang Clan, optimism is still high, despite the majority of critics preaching of inevitable failure.
For member Jamiel “Masta Killa” Arief, as he explains to Forbes, via electronic message, “I think it’s a musical portrait that’s going to revolutionize music in the future.” By utilizing exclusivity, this methodology forcible turns the art world’s spotlight on the music industry. Despite, however, an unwarranted prediction of a low success rate, this unique production model procures a promise to rediscover the lost intrinsic value of music. This odd scheme has the capability to drive the music industry into the forefront of the art world, as it serves to fuel for what could be regarded as the beginning of the great music awakening.
For the music industry, file-sharing is public enemy number one. It encourages unregulated theft, significantly reduces creative incentive and democratizes music consumption, inevitably annihilating any intrinsic value. This new method of production, however, turns things around. For the Clan they recognize that “mass production and content saturation have devalued both our experience of music and our ability to establish its value. Industrial production and digital reproduction have failed. The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero,” as the home website of the Clan's album, Scluzay, illustrates in its “Edictum.”
The Wu-Tang Clan’s odd production scheme certainly reflects this. It prevents the arms of the Internet from grabbing and degrading the album's intrinsic value. In essence, the Wu-Tang Clan utilizes the simple idea that “contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of exclusivity.”
This is certainly a bold career move, however, the Wu-Tang Clan is one of the few bands with the charisma to pull it off. For any other hip-hop artist to take such a rash step would be considered a career slaughter. Kanye West, Jay Z and even Beyonce, though each overwhelmingly popular, fall short, shadow and lack the level of respect, appreciation, and reverence the Wu-Tang Clan has acquired over generations of landmarks they have left. As pioneers of the early 90s hip-hop genre, the Clan continues to surprise the music community. For this new age production model, it is just a byproduct of the Wu-Tang Clan’s pioneer spirit.
For the sake of artistic recognition, the Wu-Tang Clan’s attempt to spring the music industry back into the ring, unfortunately, is gambling with their reputation. Already fans are questioning their allegiance. Some have begun to publicly denounce respect, as message boxes chatter over the Internet taking bets predicting the date of the albums leak.
In closing, in their exclusive interview with Forbes, member Tarik Azzougarh, more popularly known as “Cilvaringz,” stated, “It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed. But the essence and core of our ideas is to inspire creation and originality and debate, and save the music album from dying.” Beneath this distinctive methodology, the Wu-Tang Clan’s philosophy is easy to grasp: the utilization of exclusivity provokes curiosity and serves to reestablish the lost intrinsic value of music.