Wu-Tang Clan "Once Upon A Time In Shaolin" Timeline: What Happened & What's Next?

On a trip to Egypt in 2004, the RZA first ideated a new Wu-Tang Clan album that would deservedly treat music as high art, not as a commodity to create and distribute quickly and on a dime. By the time the LP Once Upon A Time In Shaolin "came out" in 2015, following almost a decade of studio sessions with the whole Wu, the project became a more pertinent experiment and statement amid streaming's rising devaluation of music. He and producer Cilvaringz worked heavily on recreating that gritty sound from the 36 Chambers days, compiling verses from every surviving member of the rap group plus some extra names like Redman and Cher.

So when 2015 rolled around, and the album released as a unique physical copy with no digital equivalent, the idea was to tour it around museums, listening events, and the like before landing on a single buyer. Wu-Tang Clan members like Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Raekwon all voiced their grievances over remaining in the dark on this release strategy. Despite the internal conflicts of the group, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin stuck to this approach, and its legacy continues to champion this idea, albeit in an altered manner, to this day. But it definitely went through many obstacles to find itself in 2024, and will likely face more. But where did this all start?

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin's Original Sale Plan

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin entered the steep marketplace with some legal stipulations: its eventual owner would not be able to release or profit off of the album until 2103, 88 years after its release. About 150 art aficionados, critics, and art dealers heard the album at a MoMA listening session in 2015, and auction house Paddle8 searched for a buyer. This was more of a compromise when compared to the original vision for this Wu-Tang Clan album to tour the world in a briefcase. Alas, they eventually found the project's buyer, which opened up a notorious can of worms.

Read More: RZA Says Nobody Else In Wu-Tang Clan Has Heard "Once Upon A Time In Shaolin"

Martin Shkreli Buys The Wu-Tang Clan's Album In 2015

In 2015, hedge fund head and infamous "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli bought the album at an auction for $2 million. This wasn't just controversial based on the presumptuous image that he represented as Once Upon A Time In Shaolin's owner, but also because of his actions elsewhere. A big narrative around this sale was that Shkreli had raised the price of the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim, for AIDS treatment among other uses, by 5,000%. He promised to leak the album if Donald Trump became U.S. President in 2016, yet upon his election, he only played some snippets here and there and shared them online across various platforms. Shkreli also boasted about playing the album for partners and colleagues, and this obviously caused a stir in the Wu-Tang Clan camp.

How Did The Wu Respond To Shkreli?

The RZA claimed ignorance of Martin Shkreli's moves to raise Daraprim's price before they finalized the purchase. In fact, the group apparently donated much of the proceeds behind the sale to charities supporting cancer treatment and other medical efforts to circumvent high pharmaceutical costs. While he defended Shkreli's right to purchase the album as a hip-hop fan and appreciator of art, others weren't so keen. Ghostface Killah got into it with the "pharma bro," resulting in some back-and-forth diss videos in which Shkreli played more of the album. Method Man also spoke on feeling blindsided and at odds with Once Upon A Time In Shaolin in 2017, and others like Raekwon spoke of their differences in the years since.

Read More: RZA Has Tried To Buy Back Martin Shkreli's Wu-Tang Album

Martin Shkreli Goes Down

In 2017, a court convicted Martin Shkreli on federal charges involving security fraud, and while he tried to sell the album on eBay before his imprisonment and 2018 sentencing to seven years, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin became one of the assets that the court seized as part of a $7.3 million forfeit. The Wu-Tang Clan's album fell into the hands of the U.S. government, and Ghostface Killah and Raekwon were among those who blasted Shkreli after this arrest. But the question of what would happen to the album remained a mystery... until 2021.

Pleasr Takes Over

In July 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the sale of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin in its continued asset seizure of Shkreli. The buyer was later revealed as NFT company PleasrDAO, who bought the Wu-Tang Clan project for $4 million. This doubled its value but still left its future as an uncertain sea of speculation.

Read More: RZA To Jeff Sessions Over "OUATIS": "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothing To F**k With"

Pleasr's Lawsuit Against Martin Shkreli

On June 10, 2024, PleasrDAO filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court against Martin Shkreli for allegedly playing unauthorized copies of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin since 2021 that breached the terms of his forfeiture order. Not only that, but the company claimed that he boasted about this practice on social media. Shkreli blasted this lawsuit attempt online, calling PleasrDAO "super nerds" that displayed a "lack of diligence" in their arguments.

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin Is Slowly Becoming A Reality... Right?

Apparently, this did not halt Pleasr's efforts to get the album out to the public little by little... and on their terms. Earlier this June, New York City's oldest synagogue held a listening event for bits of the album (not in its entirety), and the company announced that the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania would host 30-minute listening events playing select Once Upon A Time In Shaolin cuts twice daily as part of its "Namedropping" exhibition, running from June 15 to June 24. Not only that, but they also reportedly launched five-minute snippets from the Wu-Tang Clan album as NFTs, as part of a reported agreement to "unlock" the album by speeding up the timeline until October 8, 2103 by 88 seconds with each purchase. Will it generate the $28 million necessary to put all the pieces together? Time will tell...

Read More: Wu-Tang Clan Earns Extra Back-To-Back Las Vegas Residency Performances Following Celebrated Run

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The post Wu-Tang Clan "Once Upon A Time In Shaolin" Timeline: What Happened & What's Next? appeared first on HotNewHipHop.

via: https://www.hotnewhiphop.com/815485-wu-tang-clan-once-upon-a-time-in-shaolin-martin-shrkeli-album-timeline-hip-hop-news

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