RZA Says Nobody Else In Wu-Tang Clan Has Heard "Once Upon A Time In Shaolin"
The Wu-Tang Clan's RZA has been in the news a lot lately, whether for his dispute with Raekwon, response to Andre Johnson's suicide attempt, appearance in the film "Brick Mansions," or the "secret" Wu-Tang album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. He shed some light on that secret release in an interview with Vulture today, saying that although the album's close to being complete, he's the only member of Wu-Tang Clan that has heard it.
"None of the members have heard the album," he said. "On the original 36 Chambers, that was how it was done. They didn't hear it until I finished it and brought it back and showed them: 'This is the album. This the work we put in. This is what I concocted.'"
As the plan stands now, the group will release only one copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin and tour it around museums, so the desire to keep it largely secret makes sense. When asked abut the album's current status, RZA said:
"I've given the power of the situation over to some experts, and they’re going to take about two weeks to figure out exactly the proper course of action to take, and then we’ll announce it. And I’m going to take the expert opinion. That’s something I’ve learned over the years — to stand up strong for that which I truly know, but for that which I don’t know, I’m willing to be taught and learned. I don’t have an ego that gotta jump."
So it looks like we'll have even more news about the album in a few weeks' time, hopefully with a release (or, if there really is only one copy) premiere date locked in. Vulture wanted to get some more details on the project, but RZA declined, saying:
"All those questions, we’ll answer at the proper time because I don’t think it’s proper to dissect it. You don’t take the Mona Lisa and just cut off the head, cut off the eyes. You look at it as a single unit."
He later compared Once Upon A Time In Shaolin to Michelangelo's David statue, clearly emphasizing the point that it is supposed to be received as a work of art, and not an ordinary album.
More news also emerged today on A Better Tomorrow, the Wu-Tang Clan's other upcoming release that has been put in jeopardy by Raekwon's refusal to work on it. In an interview with Sway, RZA said that Rae was demanding too much money for his contributions, leading to further complications in the recording process. Adding that Method Man had done his verses pro-bono, RZA said:
“His demands are not unreasonable as who he is and the value of what he brings to any industry. But being that Wu-Tang is a conglomerate, a big conglomerate of 10 to 12 people, those demands can’t be met... And we in a situation right now where the budget can’t really sustain what he’s demanding. And for that to be equal across the board. And not even equal, even if we was to say ‘Well, he gets a percentage more than him or a percentage more than him.’ What he’s demanding is so—takes so much weight on the budget that the record can’t be done… If I’m about to do 30 sessions, that’s what 600 grand? The budget can’t sustain that. It can’t afford me to do that because we’re in a time of our industry where we not walking in getting two, three, four million dollar budgets no more.”
Let's hope Raekwon and RZA reach a deal before the 30 day ultimatum runs out.
Do you think RZA's doing the right thing for the Wu-Tang Clan by shouldering the burden of work himself? Let us know in the comments.