In an age of 360 deals, albums being shelved due to budget problems, and a general industry-wide worry about spending and losing money on recording and selling albums, it's commendable when artists bypass all of the noise and take even greater personal risks to perfect their music. Label politics be damned—music is art, and sometimes dope art costs a lot.
Kanye West has spoken multiple times about how much money he's personally put up and lost to fulfill his artistic visions. Drake once rapped, "Tell Lucian I said "fuck it" / I’m tearing holes in my budget" on "Stay Schemin," referencing his determination to spend on his album in defiance of Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group. Of course, Kanye and Drake can spend more liberally with fewer consequences than an upstart artist can afford, but each has shown a strong willingness to invest in their own art.
RZA is another artist who shares that mentality. Last week, RZA spoke with the New York Times on Wu-Tang Clan's upcoming album A Better Tomorrow, the status of their long-rumored $5 million album, and on becoming a better leader and parent. Buried within RZA's answers was a revealing fact about the latest Wu-Tang album.
During the interview, RZA was asked about the recording cost of A Better Tomorrow, and specifically what he was paying for out-of-pocket. RZA's response was all-encompassing and direct: "Everything. And I won’t recoup. I’m already overbudget. Maybe I’ll net out a half-million-dollar loss."
When asked what he got for his money, RZA hardly sounded like a man who was down on his decisions: "I invested in the album. Look, if I never did anything again in music, it wouldn’t affect my life materially. I live a very satisfying life. Not because I’ve made a few dollars, but because I have a wife who loves me and children who wait for me to come home. And that is beautiful. I think that’s the American dream: to be at peace at home."
Clearly, RZA is an artist who gives a total of zero fucks about what Wu-Tang Clan's music will cost to produce. For him, and artists like Kanye, Drake, and many others, the end product and the vision behind it can't and won't be totally shackled by budgets or accountants. The music will drive the money—not the other way around.
[via The New York Times]