Forget A Better Tomorrow, the divisive reunion record Wu-Tang Clan will release later this year. The group has an even higher profile release on the way as well; dubbed Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the double LP was developed in secret over the past couple years, with plans to premiere it at high profile listening parties and sell an exclusive copy to someone who’s willing to spend millions on a piece of hip-hop history.
“We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music,” RZA told Forbes in an exclusive interview. “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
“I know it sounds crazy,” added Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, the primary, Morocco-based producer for the project. (It also includes contributions from all of Wu-Tang’s original members and a few special guests.) “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.”
The roots of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin reach all the way back to 1997, when Cilvaringz met RZA at a show in Amsterdam. The latter ended up mentoring the young producer and asking him to start work on the record in the late ’00s. Or as Cilvaringz put it, “It took a long time. After five years, I’m sitting here and I’m like, ‘Am I really going to release this record and see it die after a week?’”
Not if RZA can help it. According to the de facto Wu-Tang frontman, “This particular privatized album — this idea we have — will be something that will go longer than all of us.”
Listen to the recent Wu-Tang single “Keep Watch,” which is expected on A Better Tomorrow: