Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, the worst Wu-Tang album you’ve never heard, is out of the hands of a pathetic wannabe Bond villain, into the hands of ‘a collective of artists, anons, crypto degens, cypberpunks, and visionaries.’ So, yeah, not much better.
PleasrDAO, which previously purchased NFTs honoring Edward Snowden and Pussy Riot, revealed last week that they were behind the $4m purchase of the one-of-a-kind album / Tarantino MacGuffin that has captured the cultural conversation for years now, despite being, according even to those featured on it, very bad.
Recorded across the early 2010s, the album was cobbled together by a producer named Cilvaringz, a ‘b-level’ Wu-Tang Clan associate and their official opening act for most of the aughts. He reportedly held sessions with each member of the legendary hip hop group individually, then reassembled their contributions in the shape of something roughly resembling their classic collective sound. If that doesn’t sound like an album worth $4m to you — well, yeah, exactly.
The de facto leader of the group, RZA, got wind of the project only after it was done, and reimagined it as a fine art piece critiquing the artist-devaluing music industry. This was the narrative run by mainstream outlets at the time of its release and continues to be regurgitated today. But the album itself is likely less of a once-in-a-lifetime experience designed to be heard in museum galleries and more of a shrewd marketing pivot from a slapdash mixtape otherwise destined for the middling reviews and sales typical of late era Wu-Tang.
Ironically, this pivot — using ‘fine art’ as a synonym for ‘exclusive’ and an excuse for exorbitant pricing — makes the project a perfect fit for a crypto DAO. PleasrDAO’s spokesman calls Wu-Tang ‘the OG DAO’, which sounds about as delusional as it gets, until he goes on to draw parallels between selling shares of a doge meme NFT and ‘the Lourve [deciding] to fractionalize the Mona Lisa and distribute a portion of it for the public to own.’
He also says they want to bring the album ‘back to the people’ — provided, of course, the people are willing to pay. PleasrDAO intend to take the ‘polar opposite’ approach to releasing the album as its previous owner, which apparently means looking into ways to profit off it instead of just hoarding it for yourself. ‘For the children’ indeed.