RZA explains why he doesn't regret Wu-Tang's infamous 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' album, the only copy of which Martin Shkreli bought for $2 million

  • Wu-Tang Clan’s de facto leader, RZA, said if he could do it all over again, he would still give his blessing to the creation of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.”
  • There was only one copy made of the double album and it became infamous when former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli bought it for $US2 million.
  • Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud in August of 2017, and is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence.
  • Despite the album causing internal strife in the group, RZA told Business Insider, “From the time that project existed, it was a proper time to do what it did … I would do it again because that’s the myth of Wu.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you want to get members of the Wu-Tang Clan in a bad mood, bring up “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.”

There is only one copy of the double album that exists in the world, and it became infamous when it was bought for $US2 million by former pharmaceutical executive, Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of securities fraud in August of 2017, and who later put it for sale on eBay. Shkreli is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence.

But even before that, “Shaolin” was a sore subject for many in the legendary rap group, as they realised they had provided their talents to a bizarre art piece.

“When I was informed how they were approaching selling the album, I kind of flipped out, because I was misinformed by the person who gave me the information,” Wu-Tang member Method Man told Business Insider in 2017. “It’s hard for me to speak on it because I wasn’t in the loop.”

Martin shkrelimartishkrel_7/EbayMartin Shkreli showing the only copy of ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.’

And many of the members to this day are confused and frustrated about it, as the 4-part documentary on the group, “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” (premiering Friday), revealed. When “Shaolin” is addressed in one episode, the group members, all sitting together in an empty theatre, explain why they believe it was a disservice to their loyal fan base.

But the one member who doesn’t speak too negatively is the group’s de facto leader, RZA.

The album was made over six years starting in 2000, with all the surviving Wu-Tang members taking part, and was produced by Moroccan producer Tarik Azzougarh, also known as Cilvaringz. And RZA was in full support of the creation, even doing press alongside Cilvaringz.

Looking back on it now, RZA said if he had to do it all over again, he would still give his blessing to the creation of “Shaolin.”

Read more: Showtime’s 4-part Wu-Tang Clan documentary is so epic RZA calls it the ‘bible’ of the band

“From the time that project existed, it was a proper time to do what it did,” RZA told Business Insider while promoting “Of Mics and Men.” “I’m strongly against the devaluation of music, I’m strongly against entitlement that people feel about music. That campaign was a political and artistic exploration into that. Now, how it ended up in that dude’s hands and all that stuff, to me, I would do it again because that’s the myth of Wu. Wu-Tang also has a mythology about it. It wasn’t like this was talked about in our neighbourhood. We among ourselves argued about it, but when that was done, it still continues across the globe. So I think it was something very unique and a great asset to the Wu-Tang legacy.”

But Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck, sitting alongside RZA, gave a little hint that the album is still a wound that hasn’t healed by adding: “It’s sad people couldn’t hear it.”

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