Wu-Tang's 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' Might Not Even Be a Real Wu-Tang Album

Sources close to the group say "it's not an authorized Wu-Tang Clan album"
Wu-Tang's 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' Might Not Even Be a Real Wu-Tang Album
The saga of the Wu-Tang Clan's ultra-limited $2 million Once Upon a Time in Shaolin LP may finally come to an end tomorrow night (September 15) as Martin Shkreli's eBay auction closes, with the current bid for the record sitting at over $1 million. Now, however, some close to the rap crew are alleging the valuable full-length may not even be true Wu-Tang album at all.

As Bloomberg reports, Wu-Tang members U-God and Method Man described the record, through their respective managers, as simply a project helmed by producer/RZA protege Cilvaringz (a.k.a. Tarik Azzougarh). 

"It's not an authorized Wu-Tang Clan album," U-God manager Domingo Neris told the publication. "It never was."

Method Man manager James Ellis added that "when we did the verses, it was for a Cilvaringz album. How it became a Wu-Tang album from there? We have no knowledge of that."

As previously reported, when news of the record first broke in 2014, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin had allegedly been in the works since 1997 with Azzougarh serving as co-producer. He reportedly began working on the project while living in Marrakech, and conceived the idea of delivering the set of tracks in the lavish edition of one alongside RZA himself.

Neris alleges that Azzougarh gathered Wu-Tang verses over the years for his own projects only to piece them together himself for the album without seeking the permission of the full group. U-God sued the Wu-Tang Clan last year for $2.5 million USD, citing unpaid royalties. Bloomberg notes that the case is currently pending.

"We're very detailed about the quality and how we put our best foot forward," Neris explained. "We would never have authorized anyone to put together a project and call it a Wu-Tang Clan record without us ever looking at it, hearing it, or being in the same room together. That's just the way these guys work."

"The album and its concept were an evolutionary process that spanned six years, too complex to explain in a soundbite," Azzougarh told Bloomberg in a statement. "All participating Wu-Tang artists were paid in advance while RZA and I bore the financial risk of the project."

Bloomberg also spoke to two Wu-Tang-affiliated MCs who recorded verses with Azzougarh with the expectation that they would appear on the disc. Killa Sin, a member of affiliated crew Killarmy, told the publication that "the way he presented it...was it was going to be basically his album, and he wanted me to do some work for him."

Shyheim Franklin told the publication that the producer "did mention it being a project he was trying to produce with everyone on it...there wasn't the assumption that it would be a Wu-Tang album."

"It's an insult," Killa Sin continued. "It's like fuck everybody else. I'm going to get mine. He probably thought, 'We're onto something. We can really get some money for this.' But you got to stop and say, 'How would my brothers feel?'"

Upon reaching out to Shkreli for comment on the legitimacy of the record, he replied "hahahahahahahahahahahaha" in an email before calling Bloomberg "an overpriced, legacy software system that subsidizes a money-losing media company...This state of affairs will soon change."