The argument has been made for years now that Hip Hop, both as an art form and as a product, has become extremely disposable. Success is based on the new, the hot, and the right damn now. Digital albums are downloaded, listened to maybe two or three times, and then dragged to the proverbial computer trash bin, never to be heard again. So when it was announced by legendary Hip Hop group Wu-Tang Clan that they would be creating and selling only one copy of its forthcoming album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, it’s painfully obvious that more than a few Hip Hop fans, both old and new, were left scratching their heads, or were probably dismissive of the idea.
But digging deeper into the story, the Clan’s intentions become clearer. “We’re about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before,” says RZA, legendary producer and the mastermind behind the original concept of the Wu-Tang Clan. “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music… The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years… 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 for free.”
So it’s a matter of making music that is something to be valued again. Inspired by Jay Z’s Samsung campaign and Nipsey Hu$$le’s Crenshaw mix tape campaign, the Clan is looking to continue it’s legacy of going against the grain of the modern music sales and distribution model. Here are a few reasons why it could breathe new life into Hip Hop.
IT MAKES FOR GREAT CONVERATION ABOUT WHAT HIP HOP CAN BE
The idea of what Hip Hop is continues to evolve as time passes. With this new venture, Wu-Tang is contributing to the conversation in more ways than one: Hip Hop as art, Hip Hop as a valuable commodity, and Hip Hop as an idea that stands the test of time.
IT EDUCATES NEWER GENERATIONS ON THE CONCEPT OF ART
Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” video is a great modern example of Hip Hop as art, and Wu Tang is taking that idea a step further. Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will reportedly be housed in an engraved silver-and-nickel box that’s handcrafted by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, whose works have been commissioned by royal families and business leaders. If that’s not art and commerce, than what is?
IT ADHERES TO THE TRADITION OF WHAT HIP HOP IS
Ever since it was created as an art form based on the ideals of community, solidarity, peace, unity and fun back in the day, Hip Hop has held a tradition of challenging establishment ideals. Wu-Tang has always been the epitome of these ideals, and this new album project and all that’s gone into really is just an extension of those same ideals.
IT SIMULTANEOUSLY GOES AGAINST THE CURRENT STATUS QUO
Wu-Tang Clan is by no means a bunch of new jacks. They’ve seen 20 years worth of ups and downs in the music industry. And the current ideals of giving music way for free and albums being disposable seem not to jive very well with them. True, it’s the way of the music world, but these men know their worth and are putting the proper price on it. Can’t really do much else but respect that.
IT’S VINTAGE RZA AND WU-TANG IDEOLOGY
If you’ve ever read The Wu-Tang Manual by RZA, then this project shouldn’t surprise you. He spent years developing the concept of the group, sometimes walking the streets for hours talking to himself for the purpose of creating the group. Judging from all of the success the Clan has had over the years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the same thing were done with this new project. Google+