Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: Are you having a laugh?


Remember that scene in the Lost Boys where Sam goes into the comic book shop? He’s looking for a copy of Batman #14. He’s politely informed by the Frogg brothers that there are only five in existence. His response is priceless: “[There are] Four, actually. I’m always looking for the other three.”

Now, depending on how much you fetishize one-offs, limited editions, misprints and other purchase-incentive collectables, you will either see this as harmless collector braggadocio, or serious asshole syndrome.

By flexing his collector muscle in such a grand fashion, he will either remind you of Poison Idea (Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes) or your own sick hunger for commercialist trinkets. Some of us fall on both sides of the fence – we rabidly collect things just to have them, and we fucking hate other people for doing the same. I’ve got my hands up – I’m guilty. I love ‘deluxe’, ‘limited’, ‘super deluxe’… all that stuff. But if I see someone else bragging about how hard-to-get their own collection is, I feel sick.

You know the Wu-Tang Clan. Shit, we all know the Wu. We know what they’re all about. So it’ll come as no surprise that we had to mention this particular news story:

Wu-Tang Clan’s legendary spokesman, leader and resident genius The RZA (the artist formerly known as Bobby Digital) is causing the music world a whole heap of grief on this topic with his announcement of a new Wu-Tang Clan record that will be limited to ONE copy. That’s right, one, uno, un, eins… a single fucking copy.

But that’s not all – the record, handily titled The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin will be toured across the globe as a ‘pay to hear’ spectacle, which is essentially a gig without the performance aspect. The details aren’t finalized, but it would appear as though closely-guarded headphones will be installed in museums across the globe, and folks can pay $50 to sit for two hours to listen to the record. Once. All two hours of it.

So after that tour is over, the album will be sold to the highest bidder. Be it a banker, a car salesman, Alan Sugar, Rob Dyrdek,… whoever the fuck is rich enough and stupid enough to buy it will surely be deserving of the scorn sent their way by a public who aren’t guaranteed to ever be hearing it.

This, of course, raises many questions. Amongst them are:

“What happens if I need to piss/smoke/eat/cry/call somebody? Can I pause the record?”

“What happens if the album is shit? Do I get a refund?”

“Just how big of a mug do you think I am?”

“Is this Alcoholics Anonymous?”

It supposedly features all of the Clan, some FC Barcelona players and a string of unannounced guests. Exciting? You betcha. Worth the hassle? Probably not. I didn’t even know Xavi could rap, and I certainly wouldn’t want to hear Dani Alves’ bars, they’re probably wack.

Of course, this concept is, technically, revolutionary. The fact that all recorded music is free nowadays is not lost on the RZA, who wishes to put the ‘art’ back into ‘artist’ and ‘asshole’ back into ‘money grabbing asshole’ with this grand plan of his. It wouldn’t be the first time.

If you’ve heard any Wu-Tang album, especially the first one, you’ll know that they’re capable of brilliance. No, they are capable of making a perfect record. How close Once Upon a Time gets to that level is beyond a guess.

Of course, my guess is that this is actually a Funny Or Die hoax to promote their actual new album A Better Tomorrow. The site that’s marketing the album is called ‘Ezclziv scluzay’, which sounds a bit like Exclusive Clues Ay. Don’tcha think? I call bollocks. He might be having a little dig at Jay-Z, who sold $5,000,000 worth of his latest album to Samsung in some marketing shenanigans. Who knows?

I, for one, hope it’s one big joke and Funny Or Die will come out soon to claim the credit for this shit-heap (like the comedy terrorists they are) much like they did for the Flaming Lips’ announcement of a companion piece to Dark Side of the Moon. If it’s not a hoax, then the joke is on Wu-Tang Clan, I’m afraid.

In any case: RIP ODB.

“PS: EZCLZIV SCLUZAY = Easy clues I’ve schooled you’s ay?”

I think I’ve worked it out – if it’s a hoax.

Ross Horton