The Wu: Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, the newest album from the Wu-Tang Clan, has been one of the most engaging projects of the last few years. The hip-hop group is selling only one copy of the album, at an auction house, to the highest bidder. The original concept was that the winning bidder could do with it what he or she wished, whether that means keeping it to themselves or marketing it to the masses. The final product comes with a 174-page, leather-bound set of liner notes and comes housed in a silver and nickel plated storage box.
Some details have changed however: Apparently the Wu decided to include some limits on what the owner may do with the record once they buy. For one, they won't be able to reproduce it for profit, or otherwise. At least for 88 years. The concept behind Shaolin is to return music to the vaunted status of high art that it once held, and mass production doesn't live up to that standard (from Forbes).
"When you buy a painting or a sculpture, you're buying that piece rather than the right to replicate it," producer RZA said. "Owning a Picasso doesn't mean you can sell prints or reproductions but that you're the sole owner of a unique original. And that's what Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is. It's a unique original rather than a master copy of an album."
The hip-hop collective didn't want to be too snobby however so they set an 88-year limit instead. Meaning that at some point during 2103, some correspondent at Music Times will finally be able to review The Wu: Once Upon A Time in Shaolin.
Why the 88-year number? Symbolism and numerology of course. The digit eight represents the original number of members in the Clan, the sum of the numbers that make up the year 2015, it's featured in the name of the auction house selling the album (Paddle8), and of course it becomes the infinity symbol when displayed sideways (all of these are real reasons cited by the group).
The new Wu-Tang Clan album is becoming an Indiana Jones film.