There Will Only Be One Single Copy Of Wu-Tang’s Next Album–Here’s What It Looks Like

The iconic rap collective has been secretly working on a double-album for years. Instead of a traditional release, though, a single copy will be exhibited and then auctioned off, like fine art (from the slums of Shaolin).

Late one night last December, Beyoncé released a surprise album on iTunes that she’d worked on in secret. Bey fans around the world who happened to be awake indulged together in a communal listening party, appreciating a new artwork at the same time. As it turns out, legendary rap unit Wu-Tang Clan has a secret album they’re preparing to drop as well, only the listening experience in this case will be the exact opposite.


As reported in Forbes, only one copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin will exist in the world. The plan is to exhibit it at festivals and galleries around the world (reportedly the Tate Modern in London is being considered) for paid listening sessions before auctioning the lone copy off to the highest bidder. Since the intention of this distribution, beyond profit, is reported to be for the reconsideration of music as true art, the album will have a package befitting a modern masterpiece. Currently being kept somewhere near Marrakech, Morocco the album resides inside an engraved silver-and-nickel box that was handcrafted over the course of three months by British-Moroccan artist Yahya.

“The music industry is in crisis. Creativity has become disposable and value has been stripped out,” the band said in a statement. “Mass production and content saturation have devalued both our experience of music and our ability to establish its value. Industrial production and digital reproduction have failed. The intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero. Contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity. This album is a piece of contemporary art.”

The entity that purchases this secret album could potentially be a brand who distributes it the way Samsung did with Jay-Z’s album last summer, a major record label, or even a gritty ’90s hip hop-loving private citizen who would presumably display it in his or her home for ultimate bragging rights.

Any fans who can’t make it to the as-yet-unannounced listening sessions will be glad to know that the group will also be unveiling its 20th anniversary album, A Better Tomorrow, with a standard commercial release this summer. Read more about the struggle to make that album here.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.