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AMERICAN hip hop legends Wu-Tang Clan will release just one copy of their new secretly recorded album, The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
The master copy will be stored in a hand-carved nickel and silver box, designed by the British Moroccan artist Yahya, and then sent on tour through museums, festivals and galleries around the world, where fans will pay a fee to listen to it, then finally sold to the highest bidder.
Anyone hoping to hear the 31-track, 128-minute record will have to pass through security guards who will remain on-hand to prevent recording, Time reports. "One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept," said Tarik 'Cilvaringz' Azzougarh, the album's main producer.
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"We're about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music," said Wu-Tang founder Robert 'RZA' Diggs, in an interview with Forbes. "We're making a single-sale collector's item. This is like somebody having the sceptre of an Egyptian king."
When the album completes its tour, it will be sold at auction for a price "in the millions".
Wu-Tang members say that the project aims to make people reconsider the place of music within the arts. "The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years," explained RZA. "And yet it 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."
The album is said to have a "vintage Wu-Tang sound", and will feature all the group's original members apart from co-founder Russell 'Ol' Dirty Bastard' Jones who died of a drug overdose in 2004. The album is also rumoured to feature guests including Cher and Redman.
The one-off record will coincide with the launch of the group's twentieth anniversary album, A Better Tomorrow, which will be released more conventionally on CD, vinyl and online.
Azzougarh says that the project is a risk: "I know it sounds crazy," he told Forbes. "It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed. But the essence and core of our ideas is to inspire creation and originality and debate, and save the music album from dying."
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