Home > Latest News > Free Listening Session Of World’s ‘One-And-Only’ Wu-Tang Clan Album in Oz

Free Listening Session Of World’s ‘One-And-Only’ Wu-Tang Clan Album in Oz

Wu-Tan Clan Once Upon A Time in Shaolin (c)2009 Ilja Meefout (Image: Sourced from Wikipedia)

Next month, a museum in Australia is scheduled to hold a free listening session of what is regarded as one of the music industry’s most exclusive albums – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin – by hip-hop artists Wu-Tang Clan.

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has secured an exclusive playback of the album and will be organising free, ticketed listening sessions running twice daily from June 15 to June 24, as part of an exhibition titled Namedropping, where visitors can hear the album. This will mark the first time that the album will be played in public on Australian soil.

What makes this album, the seventh release by Wu-Tan Clan which was recorded in secret over a period of six years and released in 2015, extremely exclusive is the fact that only one physical copy of it was created.

Housed in a nickel silver box, inside a cedarwood box, covered in black cow leather with velvet lining, it was pressed on to a two-disc CD – with the digital master files being subsequently deleted.

Once Upon a Time In Shaolin

Once Upon a Time In Shaolin

A legal agreement at the time stipulated that the album could not be used for any commercial purpose for 88 years, or until 2103. However, the album can be played at listening parties – which is what the Australian museum playing the album is positioning the listening events as.

The album was bought by controversial pharma industry figure, Martin Shkerli, for A$3 million in 2015, but was later handed over to a US federal court as part of an asset seizure following Shkerli’s conviction for securities fraud. Three years ago, the US Department of Justice sold it to Pleasr, a digital art collective, for A$6 million.

In a statement, Pleasr said, “Ten years ago, the Wu-Tang Clan had a bold vision to make a single copy album as a work of fine art…with this single work of art, the ¬Wu-Tang Clan’s intention was to redefine

the meaning of music ownership and value in a world of digital streaming and commodification of music.”

Jarrod Rawlins, Mona’s ¬director of curatorial affairs, added in another statement, “Every once in a while, an ¬object on this planet possesses mystical properties that transcend its material circumstances. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is more than just an album, so when I was thinking about status, and what a transcendent namedrop could be, I knew I had to get it into this exhibition.”

Tickets for the museum’s ‘listening parties’ will be made available via the Mona website from 10am AEST on Thursday, May 30.

Though the entire album is 110 minutes and spans 31 tracks, visitors to Mona’s in-house recording studio, referred to as Frying Pan Studios, where this album will be played will hear a ¬curated 30-minute mix from the album, played from a Sony PlayStation video game console personalised with Wu-Tang imagery.

Back in 2015, another prestigious museum New York’s MoMa held a 13-minute medley of the album that was played to about 150 art experts, rap fans and prospective buyers during a single event. The upcoming listening session in Australia is expected to open that to much broader demographic.

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