RZA explains why his recently announced Wu-Tang Clan album, Wu – Once Upon A time In Shaolin deserves to command a multimillion-dollar price.
In an exclusive conversation with HipHopDX during the press junket for his upcoming film, Brick Mansions(April 3), RZA says that the secretive project produced largely by Morocco-based producer Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh is as “rare as the Mona Lisa.”
“I kept it a secret because I want it to be what I want it to be which was, ‘Yo, this is a piece of art,’” he says. “It belongs in an art setting, venue, a museum, or a gallery. It’s as rare as any Picasso, any Van Gogh. It’s as rare—as I said in my article—as finding an Egyptian scepter. It’s as rare as the Mona Lisa. It’s rare, yo. It’s only one. We commissioned a great artist to design the box around it. It looks like a holy book might be in that box. [Laughs] That’s the idea, yo. This is art. It should be toured and looked upon as that. That’s the first and primary thing.
“As far as the value of it, the value could go from wherever,” RZA continues. “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.”
RZA Details Direction Of A Better Tomorrow
RZA also clarifies the timing of his decision to release one copy of an unheard Wu-Tang album. While news around two Wu-Tang Clan albums overlap, he affirms that Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is in no way connected to the group’s stalled sixth studio album, A Better Tomorrow.
“This idea to release [Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin] was since September , he says. “And then we rediscussed it in December. I made the decision January 20. I made the decision on how I was going to deal with this particular piece of art. Then I made the announcement a few months later. It has nothing to do with A Better Tomorrow. I let everybody know in the office that works on A Better Tomorrow—the staff and everybody—that I’m gonna do something different. I wouldn’t tell nobody what it was.
“A Better Tomorrow—I’ll say it briefly—is healthy,” RZA continues. “That’s for the fans more than anything because that’s what we need. If you’re having a good day today, you need a better tomorrow. If you’re having a bad day today, you definitely need a better tomorrow. When I first came up with that concept, it was my idea looking at the world, looking at my crew, and looking at myself. Looking at myself, I’m like, ‘Wow, everything is working for me. But everything ain’t working for everybody on my team. Everybody ain’t working for everybody in my family. I got my cousin, he just got laid off at the airport. My brother, he thought that [President Obama] would come and give people all these jobs. He had to go to Ohio to look for a job and then come back. He needs a better tomorrow. I was trying to write songs of inspiration and hope, which is the theme of this album. I’m having a hard time keeping it together because of creative differences we always have in Wu. Maybe brothers would rather see me walk around like [my character in Brick Mansions] Tremaine Alexander. ‘Strap up, Brick Mansion gangsters!’ That’s the energy, but that won’t make a better tomorrow.”
Brick Mansions stars RZA, Paul Walker, and Parkour creator, David Belle and is in theaters April 25.
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