“One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept.” So says Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, the Moroccan producer behind a sizable chunk of the Wu-Tang Clan’s surprise new album, The Wu—Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. But if you’re looking forward to diving right in to the album’s 128-minute runtime, you might have a while to wait.
“We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” said RZA in a recent interview with Forbes. The group has produced exactly one copy of the album, to be stored in a Lost Ark-style lockbox until it goes on tour.
That’s right. Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will be going on a museum tour, where listeners can pay an entrance fee to the exhibit and hear the album in full. They’ll be searched to ensure no recording devices make it in. The move instantly elevates the album—though I guess now it’s a “piece”— into a realm of “high art.” RZA cited the devaluation of music in his explanation:
“The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” says RZA. “And yet its doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free.”
Tour dates are still being nailed down, and where the music goes after the tour finishes is a question still up for debate. But the Wu-Tang Clan also have their 20th anniversary album A Better Tomorrow coming out via a more traditional commercial release this summer, so you’ll get your fix. Stream their latest, “Keep Watch” below: