As previously reported, the 31-track album is set to be auctioned off. While the buyer will be able to listen to the record any time he or she pleases, commercial rights to the album won't be granted for another 88 years. Method Man was apparently unaware of the plan when he was recently approached by XXL, and said that, if true, the move was "fuckin' stupid." Meth added that he just wants fans to hear the album.
"I'm tired of this shit and I know everybody else is tired of it, too," he said. "Fuck that album, if that's what they are doing. I haven't heard anything like that, but if they're doing crap like that, fuck that album. Straight up."
After Method Man's statement started to spread, RZA hopped on Twitter to make a few clarifications. For one, he feels people may be missing the bigger picture of the limited-edition LP and need to chill out.
Y'all misinformed homies better go roll that sHhh light that Shhh and smoke that shhh and calm down. Y'all falling for the pork in the bun— RZA! (@RZA) March 5, 2015
Addressing Method Man and XXL, RZA noted that the album's "88 year 'non commercialization' clause… means corporations can't buy it & mass produce it."
I'm always prepared to correct my wrongs thus Positive education always correct errors. But u tweeticons have been misinformed & believe :(— RZA! (@RZA) March 5, 2015
Album producer Cilvaringz chimed in with a tweet linking to a previously printed Q&A with him and RZA, which lays out a few more details about the LP. For one, the album will not be able to be distributed commercially by the buyer for 88 years. If, however, the person decided to drop the tunes pro bono, that is his or her decision.
"But bearing in mind the investment the owner would be making, we consider it unlikely," RZA had said in the interview.
In his more recent tweets, RZA highlighted the specialness of the single copy of the album, noting rather esoterically of keeping it under wraps from the general public:
It's unclear at present when Once Upon a Time in Shaolin goes up for auction.
Everything physical is about time. It's the commodity we sale which is surely limited.Working but not seeing Children grow up is sacrifice— RZA! (@RZA) March 5, 2015
UPDATE: In efforts to clear things up a little more, Wu-Tang have shared the following statement about the album:
Only one single copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was ever to be made. This has been the case since the very first announcement. A commercial release was never planned. The right to commercialize it, meaning the right to sell it en mass to the public in any form is not allowed until 88 years from now.
If the public rights were handed over now, then this would be a record deal like any other. Not the sale of a single copy. It can be exhibited publicly and it can be given away for free. But it cannot be commercialized as a conventional album release until 2013. Even then, it will be the owner's decision to release it or keep it as a single unit, not the Wu-Tang.