The Wu-Tang Clan has had an exceedingly busy few weeks in the news, beginning with the announcement that its “secret” album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, would be released as a single copy, housed within an ornate silver-and-nickel box, and toured through the world’s museums. That seems positively pedestrian now, compared to the last few days of Wu-related happenings. A brief recap, ranked from slightly crazy to downright, opening-dialogue-of-“M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” unnerving:
Not surprisingly, some fans think that an album limited to a single copy is ridiculous. Specifically, two fans named Russell Meyer and Calvin Okoth-Obbo, who have launched a Kickstarter campaign to pool funds and purchase Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, liberate it from the museums like a reverse Indiana Jones, and share it with the world. “I can’t imagine RZA being upset if enough Wu-Tang fans get together and raise enough money to purchase [the album],” Meyer told DNAInfo. “We don’t want some guy in Dubai who literally has money to burn to buy it as a collector item that only six people will get to listen to.”
Instead, they hope to buy it and distribute it digitally, while employing some sort of raffle or “rock-paper-scissors” system to award the sole physical copy. Right now the campaign has raised just over $2,000 toward its $5 million goal—a price set to match the $5 million bid RZA says he’s already received and definitely wouldn’t be lying about, because when has RZA ever exaggerated? Those who want to contribute toward their noble (if likely futile) cause can rest assured that they’ll get all their money back if it fails, but not if the album is kind of mediocre.
Speaking of which, Raekwon kind of makes it sound like it will be mediocre, seeing as he’s “on strike” from the group right now. Building on his recent comments to Grantland about how the group can no longer be trusted in RZA’s hands, Raekwon spoke to Rolling Stone about why he doesn’t want to be involved with its other new album, A Better Tomorrow, and to discuss his feelings about RZA recently suggesting that Raekwon and the group were “creatively…on different paths.” Raekwon agreed, saying that he was on a path to making a great album, while RZA was on the path to making “mediocre shit.” Then he said some really harsh things:
It’s the same as being an athlete. I don’t give a fuck if it’s Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. They will not touch the floor if their managers or lawyers are saying, "Listen, shit ain’t right." So therefore, I’m in a limbo situation. So yeah, you’re right. I am on strike. It ain’t the fact that I don’t want to be there. Because of course I want to be there. But if we’re there, we gotta do the best everything. We gotta work 10 times harder, because that’s what I’m signing in for. I’m not about listening to somebody that’s not an artist telling me what the fuck they think is hot.
As far as the RZA, I respect him, I love him – the love ain’t gonna go anywhere – but you’re not in the music world no more. So to me, you need to take a backseat and respect the n—-as that is playing the game. I’m always out in the field and finding out what’s going on with the new. Period….
RZA’s the type of dude where, in the 90s, he ruled. Now it’s a new day. You’re not attached no more. It’s like being a coach and you won rings back in the day, but now your team is in ninth place. It’s time for a new fucking game plan….
Today, I don’t know where RZA’s mind is at. I don’t know if he looks at himself as being a top producer. But you’re not the top producer no more. You’re definitely one of the best, but you’re not one of the best today.
Which might have been the worst thing the group had to deal with this week, had a “Wu-Tang-affiliated” rapper not cut off his own penis before attempting suicide. The news lit up with the story of the unfortunately named Andre Johnson, a.k.a “Christ Bearer” of the Wu-Tang adjunct group West Coast Killa Beez, who severed his own penis before jumping from the second floor balcony of his Hollywood apartment. Johnson was one half of the duo Northstar, who signed to Wu-Tang’s label and released a 2004 album that was produced by RZA under his Bobby Digital name. He survived—though doctors were unable to reattach his penis—and was thus forced to suffer the further embarrassment of seeing the story break wide and Wu-Tang go out of its way to disavow any connection with him, beginning with posting a since-deleted message that read, in part, “This Mother Fucker Ain't Got Shit to do with The WUTANG Brand.”
But now RZA has come forward to clarify things to XXL, acknowledging that Johnson was part of “a bunch of young guys that was signed to our company 10 years ago,” but that he no longer works with him. He also offered these sentiments:
“But the story—what he did—is incredible. That shit sound mythical… I thought he was a smarter guy than a guy who would do something crazy like that. But at the same time, he been in jail recently, he’s been in trouble. Maybe he’s mentally unstable. Maybe the mental health system should have took a look at him and said, 'You know what? We got to hold on to this guy for a little longer.' Because it’s not any sanity; even if you high, this shit don’t sound sane. This sounds more than high. It sound like mental problems or something that was bothering this man’s mind, and he needed help. It’s sad. I send my respect out to his family.”
In light of these last few weeks, it would be perfectly fine if Wu-Tang Clan took some time off from generating news of any sort.