BY: JUSTIN SANDER
Iconic hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan will release just one copy of their newest album. However, to say it is being released is completely misleading.
The new album, titled The Wu — Once Upon a Time In Shaolin, will be exclusively showcased through a tour of museums and galleries. The album itself will be enclosed in an elegantly engraved silver and nickel box created by British-Moroccan artist Yahya.
Listening to the 31-track album will only be possible through paying to attend the selected exhibit, where the patron will pass through rigorous security and only then be able to view the album and listen through headphones. Once the album has completed its journey, it will be auctioned to the highest bidder for potentially millions of dollars.
After 20 years, Wu-Tang Clan still “Ain’t Nuthin to F*ck Wit.”. Always creative, innovative, and progressive, Wu-Tang Clan remains a testament for the genre as an art form. However, some doubt its potential for success and criticize the group for not democratizing their work for all to listen. Those questions are besides the point. Instead, people should be asking: “Why aren’t more hip hop artists doing things like this?”
Music has always served as the pinnacle for progression and innovation in society. Stepping out of the norm has been the norm itself. Hip hop was once a statement for the changing of times and the diversity of art, but is now evidence of quite the opposite. After the 1990s, quality and substance in the genre declined dramatically. Today, hip hop is polluted with “rappers” coming of an assembly line equipped with unoriginality and the rhyming abilities of a 3rd grader.
Razor-sharp rhyme-sayers have been replaced by shallow and materialistic egomaniacs. Most hip hop tracks today rarely veer off the degrading and thoughtless formula of money, cash, and women, put nicely.
Wu-Tang Clan is keeping the spirit of creativity and innovation alive in hip hop through their latest project. Art is about risks, art is about freedom. A true artist not only thinks outside of the box, but also creates the box. Once Upon A Time In Shaolin has the potential to revolutionize the music business. It can change the way that music is marketed and ultimately perceived by society.
This may also be part of a larger trend, since other artists recently have sought to defy music industry standards. Last year, independent artist Nipsey Hussle released a mixtape listed at $100. He sold 1,000 copies and used the proceeds to fund his own independent label and launch a campaign to reward his most dedicated fans.
Perhaps Wu-Tang’s latest endeavor will inspire a widespread resurgence of forward-thinking within its genre. Hip hop should return to its golden age when the genre broke barriers from every direction. The Wu-Tang Clan are some of the last men standing from this noble era and if others don’t follow suit, hip hop in its truest form will indeed become a lost art.