Cilvaringz On "Once Upon A Time In Shaolin": "I'm Being Crucified By Wu-Tang Fans"

Wu-Tang Clan affiliated producer Cilvaringz details the making of the group's one-copy album and avoiding leaks.

In a recently released video from Forbes, Senior Editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg interviewed several individuals involved in the making of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time In Shaolin while visiting North Africa. Set primarily in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, Greenburg speaks with the album’s producer and past Wu-Tang Clan collaborator Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzourgarh.

“When a new idea like this meets the public arena, it kind of takes a life on its own,” Cilvaringz said of the concept.

“I didn’t really tell anyone until I really had the idea of what it was going to be,” he said. “Even then it was so difficult to really define, ‘Okay, this is the idea, this is where it comes from, and this is what it’s gonna do.’ To every Clan member whom I called once the idea was kind of set, it took an hour or more to really break it down. That’s not because they didn’t get it. They got it. They couldn’t see the greatness of it, or the importance of it rather, until they had the whole picture. You’re gonna get that in a nine people crew. It’s a big crew, a lot of opinions, visions on things. No one was against it and some brothers were really, really for it and said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”

Explaining the process of actually producing and recording the record, Cilvaringz explained an intricate process designed to avoid any potential leaks.

“The production of the album was done here in Marakesh beforehand and it was in a very unconventional way because I produced the music, I selected the beats,” the producer said. “First, [I] sent them to RZA for reviewal. Song titles were already made up. Based on that, [the] selection was made as to who has to be on which record. With that we went to Staten Island, New York and basically got the guys together. The recordings, they weren’t allowed to have, they had beats—sometimes they actually had beats that had the similar sound but wasn’t the actual beat. Had the same BPM, the same speed and everything, but they would rhyme with something that would sound...much later. I just couldn’t afford for it to leak. They were never given the final copies including RZA.”

Speaking on the aesthetic of the album itself initially, Cilvaringz described sacrificing the potential career clout involved in the one copy concept.

“Raw,” he said of the snippet and the album’s sound. “Rugged. Even the way we mixed it. Even the way we mastered it. We used Ken Lewis for the mixing who's done Watch The Throne, Twisted Fantasy [from] Kanye. He’s done some big acts that had a bit of the rough sound, the dirty gritty sound. The whole approach of it had to be ‘93 to ‘97.”

Asked directly about balancing the intricacy of making the album with the possibility that very few people might hear it, Cilvaringz detailed feeling persecuted by Wu-Tang Clan fans.

“I thought about that a couple times because I’m very proud of the album,” he said. “I feel that the sacrifice is greater. I truly believe, despite everybody thinking that this is some great publicity stunt or marketing ploy, this has been a genuine concept from the get-go. So it happened to get a lot of publicity. Great. But it is a genuine concept with a genuine core and a genuine goal. If I have to sacrifice the record for a greater good, to get the point across, to make the statement—I’m being crucified by Wu-Tang fans everyday...They go for me, and I understand it. It’s understandable. But I really believe in this approach. I think it’s very necessary. I think people are responding to it in a very interesting way.”

Elsewhere in the mini-documentary, Greenburg interviews the man largely responsible for the album’s bespoke and one-off packaging.

“Nothing’s mass made,” Yahya, a British-Moroccan artist commissioned with the box’s making said. “I couldn’t really work out how we could actually do something together. They said, ‘No we’d just need one.’ That’s the key to the whole thing but for us to explain we’re gonna have to sign you up to a confidentiality clause. I said, ‘Sure, sounds a bit of fun.’”

“It’s a box within a box within a box,” Yahya says as he unveils the packaging for Greenburg and the camera. “This has been carved in nickel silver. We decided to encase the world famous logo of the Wu-Tang Clan within...treated as an art-piece which it is. Inside you have another box, and inside this is encased the CD with their special casing. But for security reasons, we have taken it out so today what you see is just the actual artwork which houses the CD.”

“We had about ten guys working over three months from start to finish to make it. From the people who initially carved the metal, flattened it, textured the surface, constructed the wood, put it all together, mount it, finish it, line it with leather. You have about ten different skill sets needed in order to make this one box.”

Near the end of the video, billionaire founder of Virgin Records Richard Branson offered a quick comment on the group’s concept.

“I love the idea,” he said. “I think anything that people can collect as collector’s items, it makes life more fun. I expect it will end up being the most copied single copy of an album ever. I take my hat off to them for a really fun idea.”

RELATED: Snippet From "The Wu - Once Upon A Time In Shaolin" Album Revealed


  • Anonymous

    You literally live as a guinea pig/ If the timbs ain't on deck you know the penny's is / Your finger still penny pinch/ Don't make me pull the mac milli from the fendi trench/.... In any event, hold the 12 gauge that's heavy as shit/ For every clip we let steadily rip/ To push your Afro back to '76, mufuckah!

  • hmm

    I feel like whoever buys this album will be largely disappointed due to the price, but the music should be dope. Hopefully it will get released to the public at some point

  • Anonymous

    been saying this from the beginning this is a great idea, a wonderful collector's project, and only the selfish pussies will not like it

  • Brower

    Basically the 5m is only for the work put into the box within a box within a box.Peep the designer that they had to do the artwork. He alone had 10 other people to so call help work on the the boxes. Its not about the music its all about the artwork and time put into making the artwork. ijs.

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  • George Jefferson

    When in doubt, blame the fat, white honky producer.

  • x

    Im anticipating this more than the rza produced album

  • PATHH88


  • Anonymous

    here's my beef with this, i dont understand why raekwon is all over this record but not on the commercial record that fans will have? it's almost like a double fuck you. And will cilvaringz produce on the other album? i know many folks dont know him as much but dude is a monster with the beats, all the wu heads know it thats why they're so angry because the one album clan album they know will bang, will not come out. Enough to pretty much piss me off too. I just hope that museum tour comes to me in Italy!

  • Anonymous

    I don't blame him, thanks to the internet music has the value of dog shit now, people hear an album is out, download it for free, nitpick it to death and forget it exists a week later. The internet has done nothing but damage to music. It prolongs the career of people that should have fallen off years ago or never made it at all and saturated the market to the point of no return with 10,000 mixtapes and albums in a month. I guarantee you that whoever winds up with this album won't consider it disposable.

  • Anonymous

    greedy sand nigga

  • Anonymous

    FOH. we need Young Thug

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  • SUUU

    lol @ u crybabys! "whaaa i want the album, whaaa" yea so you can download it for free, act fickle about only to forget about it a week later? yea Im all for this, fuck this generation, yall dont deserve SHIT! WUTANG!

    • Rich

      Fuck this generation? This generation only cares about Rich Homie Quan, Lil Wayne, Drake etc. it's not this generation who gets fucked over by this. It's the core Wu fan base, which isn't very big now. Because of idiot stunts like this.

  • Sensible

    "Im being crucified by Wu-Tang fans everyday...They go for me, and I understand it. Its understandable." He understands it because he knows they're right. This guy never has a response worth a shit when people are questioning his intentions on WuCorp. This dude is a phony, straight up and down. Only a hustler concerned with his paycheck not an artist would come up with this concept. Plus this dude has no discography, no reputation. He just bites RZA and he made the album without telling people what they were recording for. RZA only went with this for the money and the publicity. Fuck this album.

  • MikeyWhtShoes

    man funk forbes!!!! right after the snippet the camera man goes to get the computer screen on camera!!!! then play it off introducing the greenburg dude. protect yo neck civ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chris Newberry

    I admire what they did. That is the approach true artists take, not just as a hustle, but to truly carve out their place in time! Props to Wu-Tang! Much love to Cilvaringz!

  • slum

    breaking my balls smalls.

  • dawgmilli

    dont really care about this dude and who is doing what, but that snippet was fire and them niggaz need to stop playing and release this shit to the masses, enough with the art bullshit already.

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