2 new Wu-Tang Clan stories

Later this year, Wu-Tang Clan will release a single copy of a new album. The album will tour museums and festivals, and then it will be sold for the owner to give away or keep or donate or whatever they want. It’s a neat idea, almost shockingly obvious in retrospect, and I’m curious to see how it works out.

According to RZA and the album’s main producer Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, a Morocco-based part of Wu-Tang’s extended family, the plan is to first take Once Upon A Time In Shaolin on a “tour” through museums, galleries, festivals and the like. Just like a high-profile exhibit at a major institution, there will be a cost to attend, likely in the $30-$50 range.

Visitors will go through heavy security to ensure that recording devices aren’t smuggled in; as an extra precaution, they’ll likely have to listen to the 128-minute album’s 31 songs on headphones provided by the venue. As Cilvaringz puts it: “One leak of this thing nullifies the entire concept.”

And then there’s the 10,500 words Amos Barshad wrote about Wu-Tang Clan for Grantland. Barshad spent months tracking down and talking to each individual member resulting in a #longread worthy profile of the group. I wouldn’t have called Cappadonna the 10th member of Wu-Tang Clan like Barshad did, but what are you gonna do?

For several months, I chased down and spent time with all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan,2 winding my way from Brooklyn to New Jersey to Tennessee to Arizona to — of course — Shaolin in the process. It was, for the most part, maddening. As a fan, I was happy to find that a certain anarchic spirit is still rooted deep within the Wu. As a reporter, I wondered how many more unanswered calls would bring me within the legal definition of stalking. It was surreal, in the best way possible.

2 new Wu-Tang Clan stories

Wu-Tang Forever – 20 years since 36 Chambers

Here’s a story on NPR’s Morning Edition celebrating Wu-Tang’s long career and focusing on Rza’s 20 year plan. A major part of the plan was allowing individual members to sign with different record labels. This would spread the promotion money around, while also opening up door at record labels for other rappers.

One of the first record execs to come sniffing around was Steve Rifkind, who had a new label called Loud. The RZA got him to sign an unprecedented deal: For only $60,000, Rifkind got the Clan as a whole. But the RZA also convinced him to allow each individual in the group to become, in essence, a free agent. They could sign a solo deal with any other company, and take the Wu-Tang name with them.

“When Def Jam wanted to sign Method Man, they wanted to sign Method Man and Old Dirty,” says the RZA. “And Old Dirty wanted to be on Def Jam — everybody, that was like the dream label. But if I had Old Dirty and Method Man on Def Jam, that’s two key pieces going in the same direction, whereas there’s other labels that needed to be infiltrated.”

The RZA’s plan was to spread his group’s sound as widely as possible. And just a few years later, members of the Wu-Tang Clan were recording for five of the six major labels, back when there were six major labels. Sales from those albums enriched each label — which meant they saw more potential in hip-hop made by street kids.
[…]
“I recall telling GZA, ‘You’ll get the college crowd,’ ” because he’s the intellectual. “Raekwon and Ghost, all the gangstas” — their metaphors read like a police blotter — “Meth will get the women and children — and he didn’t want to do women and children. He didn’t know that, though. Method Man is a rough, rugged street dude, but all the girls love him.” Method Man is playful. “Myself, I was looking more like that I bring in rock ‘n’ roll,” says the RZA, whose rhyming style is the opposite of laid-back.

Via @graysky

Wu-Tang Forever – 20 years since 36 Chambers

Neil deGrasse Tyson ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit’

Gza is recording an album about science called Dark Matter, and he’s been talking to Neil deGrasse Tyson for info on the lyrics.

GZA isn’t just relying on his lyrics and music to convey his love of science; the album may also come with an illustrated book featuring a glossary of terms. Nor is he stopping with space. The next album in the series is going to be about oceans. With any luck, the third will be about fuckin’ magnets and how they work.

Via @mikenizza

Neil deGrasse Tyson ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit’

Full Ol’ Dirty Bastard documentary on Hulu

Dirty: One Word Can Change The World is available for viewing on Hulu. Here’s a description from a review:

Dirty effectively straddles the fine line of paying homage to an artist while still examining his negative attributes. Although one of ODB’s children, son Barson, makes an apperance, noticeably absent are his other children and their mothers, who would obviously have a different, perhaps more demeaning perspective of him. But this omission is understandable, since the mothers have most likely moved on and probably want to stay away from the public scrutiny that comes from being involved with someone as controversial as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Thanks, Seth!

Full Ol’ Dirty Bastard documentary on Hulu