Wu-Tang Clan has a new album, but you can’t hear it for another 88 years.
One single copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin currently exists in a vault in Marakkech, Morocco. At some point, they’ll auction it off to one lucky (and wealthy) bidder, who will then be the sole owner of the rights to any future distribution and sales. It’s all very mysterious and elusive and secret society-esque. It also features Cher (because “Did nobody ever have a crush on Cher? She’s the ultimate. Ain’t nobody like Cher” -RZA).
Additionally, the famed hip hop collective has announced that it will be 88 years before the current copyright runs out and the new one kicks in. According to the album’s producer, Cilvaringz, “After 88 years the copyright, which includes public and commercial rights, automatically transfers to the owner of the work…However, it will still be his or her choice at that [point] to release it or not release it.”
They’ve already received offers as high as $5 million for the single record, and it’s reportedly being considered for a Guinness World Record for Most Valuable Album.
Supposedly any backup copies have been destroyed and the single existing copy resides at the Royal Mansour hotel, inside a one-of-a-kind silver-and-nickel-plated box and jewel case designed by British-Moroccan artist Yahya. It includes 174 pages of liner notes and the only existing copy of the tracklisting. Apparently Yahya has also been commissioned to put one final, top-secret touch on the masterpiece, though we can’t imagine this getting any wilder.
“When you buy a painting or a sculpture, you’re buying that piece rather than the right to replicate it,” said RZA. “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 number 88 isn’t random; it has significance to the band, RZA explained. 8 is the number of members in Wu-Tang’s original roster, it can be found in the name of the company selling the album, it’s the sum of the digits in the year 2015, and it becomes the infinity symbol when flipped on its side.