The fascinating story of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan’s seventh studio album and inspiringly presented art project, continued earlier this month when the new owners of the one-of-a-kind piece came forward. Now, RZA is reflecting on the original creative impetus behind the project, as well as what’s next. Of course, some unavoidable Martin Shkreli mentions are also included in the recent Hot 97 interview.
“The idea was to make something that was unique, that had a value of its own,” RZA said around five minutes into the discussion when asked to detail the group’s “mindset” at the time. “We actually, when we let it go, the quote that came out of my head was like, ‘Yo. This thing is going to have a life of its own, like a child.’”
In the years since the 2015 auction, RZA added, the album has done “exactly that.” Shifting to how he feels about the project now, including the controversy surrounding previous owner Shkreli, the Wu-Tang: An American Saga executive producer opened up about the complicated nature of that facet of the project’s existence.
“No disrespect to Martin Shkreli because I don’t ever knock somebody who, you know, when somebody buys something they buy something, right?” he said around the 6:30 mark. “But it was in the wrong hands, in all reality. He made the deal before it was revealed of his character, his personality, and all the insidious things he would go on to do. That wasn’t the guy I met but he definitely unfolded into that guy and he had control of this one-of-a-kind piece of art.”