Music is art—any music enthusiast will probably agree with this statement. And as the music industry has attempted to revamp its traditional economic model in the past several years, the influence of the visual art world only seems to be growing within the music scene. This doesn’t mean that either worlds have completely figured out how to best deal with the internet just yet, but today’s circumstances have offered both musical as well as visual artists the means to value their works in new ways.
Wu-Tang Clan is the latest musical act to re-approach their work on the mainstream landscape. Their latest double-album, The Wu - Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, was secretly recorded over six years and will be sold to through a private music service to one individual buyer—most likely a Wu-Tang mega-fan who will also appreciate having a one-of-a-kind album encased in an original silver and nickel box engraved by British-Moroccan artist Yahya. This single sale will occur only after the piece has toured festivals, galleries, and museums, just like an original Monet—and unsurprisingly, no digital formats of the album will be made.
Certainly this is one of the more intriguing angles an artist has taken in terms of thinking “outside of the box.” If the concept is successful, the album will exist as a new kind of contemporary art—but as an original artwork, which we all know is always valued staggeringly higher than any prints or duplicates. This original piece will provoke interest with both its aesthetic assertions as well as its elusiveness, ultimately elevating the value of Wu-Tang’s live performances, which is where most will have access to this prized album.
Although the idea of inclusiveness seems to be central to many cultural currents right now, this approach of exclusivity—via traditional art world methods— is quite a thought-provoking move by the established hip hop group. Instead of simply relying on the failed workings of the music industry, they explored across disciplines in order to generate a potential new path for artists.
The album is currently locked up somewhere in the hills of Marrakech, Morocco. Serious inquiries for the album can be submitted here.