As you may have heard, human garbage monster Martin Shkreli had purchased the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Shaolin via auction. Plenty of hip-hop fans have offered hot takes on the whole premise of auctioning off the album. I assume you and your boys had at least one heated rhetorical exchange during about this topic, or that you’ve at least tweeted about it.
As a fan of rap, of course I’d be excited to hear the new Wu-Tang Clan album (which will supposedly be the group’s last)—it comes with the territory. However, I’m an astute enough observer to realize that, for my tastes, it won’t be better than 36 Chambers. If the Clan really never releases another record for the rest of eternity, they’ll still have some of the greatest albums and tracks in hip-hop history on their resume. So I’m more than a little skeptical of anyone who claims that the rappers consciously robbed their fans by choosing to auction off the sole copy of the record. If you’re really so fucking sad about it, go on Spotify and stream A Better Tomorrow. I’VE SEEN THE PLAY COUNTS ON THOSE TRACKS, Y’ALL. People only want what they can’t have, and that’s half the genius of Wu-Tang Clan’s newfound business model.
The other half is this: a pretty terrible person is out $2 million. Instead of leaving album sales to chance and worrying about first-week projections—especially seeing as how half of you would’ve pirated it anyway—they simply relied on an age-old marketing technique and forced the highest bidder to hand over the cash. The Atlantic labeled this maneuver “a mistake,” and staff writers at music blogs far and wide seemed more than a little perturbed. My reaction was to chuckle, and if I were a member of Wu-Tang Clan, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank.
After finding out that their newfound beneficiary was basically a 19th century robber-baron, RZA stated that Wu-Tang had donated “a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.” That was probably the right thing to do, but honestly if Wu-Tang Clan’s sole motive had been to rip off a guy with money he doesn’t deserve, i.e. Martin Shkreli, I would have been fine with that, too. As I stated earlier, I don’t feel that the Wu-Tang Clan owes me anything. And the idea of them eating on a cartoonishly evil rich person’s dime brings a single, joyful tear to my eye. I see it as a kind of poetic justice.
Martin Shkreli told Bloomberg that he actually wants more artists to create bespoke records for him. I say, cash in! This guy is clearly very desperate to seem cool. I can think of only one other nightmare of a person who gets this wrapped up in his public persona, and he is currently running for president. Why not exploit that? For a laugh or for profit—either way it’s at this man’s expense.
Update 12/10/2015 1:51 PM PST: As Pigeons and Planes pointed out, a photo is making the rounds on Twitter and elsewhere that is supposed to contain language from the contract Shkreli signed upon purchasing the record. We have no idea whether or not it’s true, and, full disclosure, we put absolutely no effort forth to confirm the authenticity of the language we’re about to share, but here it is anyway:
“The buying party also agrees that, at any time during the stipulated 88 year period, the seller may legally plan and attempt to execute one (1) heist or caper to steal back Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which, if successful, would return all ownership rights to the seller. Said heist or caper can only be undertaken by currently active members of the Wu-Tang Clan and/or actor Bill Murray, with no legal repercussions.”
The screenshot of the supposed contract clause was uploaded by Twitter user @eastwes. It sounds super fake tbh, but if it’s real, it is only further evidence of the unmitigated business genius of the Wu-Tang Clan. We hope this clause exists, we hope that Murray and the Wu-Tang team up for the caper, and we wish them all continued success.