Holy Grail: Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” Soon to Be Upon Us


Hip-hop’s holy grail is soon to make its wholly appearance before us. Wu-Tang Clan’s sole copy of their final album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is said to be sold soon on an online auction site, Paddle8, as a private sale, which allows the clan themselves to select the appropriate bid that is representative of the album as a distinctive piece of art. In an interview with Forbes, RZA goes on record to say that “music is not held in the same value as visual art,” and is “diminished and devalued almost to the point where it’s given away for free.” With the goal in mind to forgo that mentality in music executives, artists and its consumers altogether, RZA’s vision for “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is to re-inject monetary and intrinsic value back into music, and to change how music is monetized completely. If anyone were to put the money where the music is, it would be the Wu-Tang Clan. Hit the jump for more details on the album and to hear a 51-second snippet from producer Taril “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh himself.

Probably the album’s most illustrious feat that adds to RZA’s art-focused approach to this album is the silver-and-nickel box that houses the record, hand-carved by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, who is known to be commissioned by the royal families and businesses from around the world. In the interview with Forbes, the initial plan after the album’s completion was to take it onto a tour through museums, galleries and festivals to expose the work to the public as an exhibit and taking extra precautions in preventing piracy, such as banning cell phones and providing headphones for attendees.


A 31-track album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” is said to have been recorded in Morocco over the course of six years under producer Cilvaringz, who is an extended member of the Wu family since meeting RZA in Amsterdam in 1997, and being taken under his wing shortly after. In the video below, Cilvaringz plays a snippet from the record that offers a resurgence of that classic gritty, raw Wu-Tang sound that yielded the clan as hip-hop luminaries. This very essence and sound is what’s sorely missed from the music today.

Whoever is the lucky soul to land their hands on this piece of work has a true gem in their possession, but my only hope is that whoever that individual may be, let’s hope that they posses the marks of a true Wu stan and not another business suit that has their eyes on the dollar signs.

Nina Tabios

Nina Smoove aka Champagne Ninang. Certified hooligan. $F Bay Area born and bred.

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