Iconic American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan has successfully sold its “secret album,” named Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, to an undisclosed buyer, as reported by online auction house Paddle8 on Tuesday.
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) November 25, 2015
The announcement said that the Wu-Tang Clan and the buyer already agreed to the sale of the 31-track double album in May, although proper documents, legal protections, and contracts have been thoroughly discussed for months.
The group announced Once Upon A Time In Shaolin more than a year ago..
The group’s leader, rapper, and producer, RZA, said that their goal at the time for the album was to provide the listener with a “singular music experience.” It was produced by Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, with participation from the group’s other members. He also revealed that one of the tracks features another music icon – Cher.
Most of the recording was done in Morocco.
Cilvaringz Explains The Creative Choices For New Wu-Tang Clan Record
Since the album was completed in 2013, it had been hidden in a vault at the Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech, Morocco.
While most of the details about The Wu-Tang Clan album have been kept hidden from the public, RZA said that it contains a 174-page manuscript that contains the lyrics, credits, and some anecdotes about the production of each track in the album.
The pages were printed on gilded Fedrigoni Marina parchment and enclosed in leather by a master bookbinder. The album is encased in a silver-and-nickel box made by British-Moroccan artist Yahya.
Yahya is often commissioned by royal families and business leaders for intricate masterpieces. The well-respected artisan spent three months working on the album’s case.
Wu-Tang Clan has reportedly turned down several offers for the album, including a $5 million offer. They also announced that they would not auction off the album, but instead opt for a private sale.
Special terms laid out upon the album’s sale stipulate that neither the Wu-Tang Clan nor the buyer is allowed to make the album or its tracks commercially available.
“When I think of who will come to own Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, I want them to recognize the historical value of what they’re collecting,” RZA said in announcement on Paddle8 website.
So how long will it be until the public gets to hear the content of the album? The announcement states 88 years.
RZA Discusses Artistic Value Of Secret Wu-Tang Clan Album
Alexander Gilkes, Paddle8 cofounder, said that they have pioneered a type of intellectual property policy that is both physical and digital, referring to the Wu-Tang Clan album.
“This marks an exciting new model of distribution for the music world, and we look forward to playing an ongoing role in this innovative model,” he said.
The album that had held the record for being the most expensive album sold was by Elvis Presley. American musician Jack White bought a version of Presley’s first song for $300,000 earlier this year.
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In preparation for the sale of the Wu-Tang Clan album, all existing copies of it were reportedly destroyed so that it would remain a rare musical heritage.
In addition to getting the rare Wu-Tang Clan album, the buyer would also get a pair of customized PMC MB2-XBD speakers that reportedly cost $55,000.
The Wu-Tang Clan, which is based out of New York, was formed in 1992 and has managed to launch the careers of individual and group artists in the hip-hop scene.
The group’s members include RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
[Image by Kevin Winter, Getty Images]