According to an article published today on DNAinfo, two Wu-Tang Clan fans have joined forces and initiated a Kickstarter campaign with hopes of crowd-sourcing the purchase of the group’s upcoming one copy album. As reported by HipHopDX last month, the group revealed plans to release a project called The Wu - Once Upon A Time In Shaolin with an unprecedented method of distribution according to Wu-Tang producer RZA.
“We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music,” he said. “We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
As per DNAinfo, Wu-Tang fans Russell Meyer and Calin Okoth-Obbo have established their Kickstarter campaign with a $5,000,000 goal in hopes of securing the highest bid for the release. That number was presumably chosen as a function of recent claims by RZA regarding the private offers the group had been made.
"Offers came in at $2 million, somebody offered $5 million yesterday,” RZA told Billboard earlier this month. "I've been getting a lot of e-mails—some from people I know, some from people I don't know, and they're also e-mailing other members of my organization.”
Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is reportedly slated to feature 31 songs and clock in at 128 minutes in length. With production handled primarily by previous collaborator Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, RZA detailed plans to charge fans for the privilege of a one-time listen while touring the work at festivals, galleries, and museums. “The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” RZA said. “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.”
Meyer’s and Okoth-Obbo’s Kickstarter campaign claims that neither will profit if the goal is reached. “As the founder of this group I pledge to not keep a single penny of the money raised,” the page says. “Every cent will be bid to win the album. If we don't get it then everyone gets their money back.”
Detailing the motivation behind the campaign, the page also details plans to provide the album for fans free of charge if successful. “For all the fans who won't be able to pay 30-50 bucks to listen to a double album in one sitting, let's raise enough money to buy this album and then turn around and give it away for free,” they write. “Wu members can still get their CREAM and the rest of us get to enjoy an epic album instead of some uber rich bastard keeping it to himself like a collector's item.”
In an interview with DNAinfo, Meyer explained feeling like the group might appreciate the gesture. “I can’t imagine RZA being upset if enough Wu-Tang fans get together and raise enough money to purchase [the album],” he said. “We don’t want some guy in Dubai who literally has money to burn to buy it as a collector item that only six people will get to listen to.”
“We're all for changing times,” he added. “But when you make the content exclusive and only able to be accessed by a select few, the fans suffer and it's an elitist stance that doesn't really jive with hip-hop culture.”
Speaking on the possibility that the campaign is successful, Okoth-Obbo revealed not having a plan in place with regard to the preservation of the original copy itself.
“We could rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to hold it,” Okoth-Obbo said. “Or we could do a vote or raffle of all backers to see who keeps it. It’s not about ownership, it’s about getting it out there. We’d rather just get the musical content and be able to share that with the people who want to be able to appreciate it.”
In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX earlier this month, RZA defended the group's approach and market-dictated price. “As far as the value of it, the value could go from wherever,” RZA said. “It may be worth $20 million. It may be worth $100 million. Who knows? That’s the value that a person puts upon it. That’s what art is about. When you see a piece of art, somebody goes, ‘What is that? It’s just a painting of a woman.’ Yeah, but that painting of that woman is worth $100 million based on the person that appreciates it to his heart like that and based on how the world is gonna view it. That’s important to me.”