The Time The U.S. Government Disobeyed The Wu-Tang Clan
Sure, when we disobey the government, we get put in jail. But when they disobey U.S. citizens, it’s hip-hop history. The strange, fascinating tale of how Uncle Sam came to own the rarest album of all time, and then went against the express wishes of its creators, is so bizarre it has to be real. Wu-Tang Clan, one of the most successful music groups in the world, wanted to bring a sense of real value and prestige back to music. With the rise of streaming services and piracy being as easy as a couple clicks of the mouse, it has been a rocky road for musicians. So they decided to highlight music-as-fine-art and make headlines along the way. They created the album “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”, and then made a single physical copy. It was the only release of the album. The group put the only CD up for auction and it sold for two million dollars, with the stipulation that the album could not be released until 2103… But oopsie, it sold to one of the worst people in the world. Martin Shkreli became infamous for hiking up the price of a life saving drug to make it unaffordable for most people who needed it. But would you believe it, this incredibly unethical douche then also went on to commit securities fraud. Which got his assets, including Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, taken by the government.
The album was never supposed to be sold twice for profit, but the DoJ sold that sucker for four million dollars to a company that deals in NFTs. Wu-Tang didn’t want the album sold for profit and the government knew this. They say that the sale was to pay off Shkreli’s debt for defrauding investors, so it’s a little murky. The NFT group PleasrDAO now hope to find a way to make the music accessible to fans. Whether that’s some legal trickery that grants ownership to every person in the world or finding some bizarre loophole, we hope they do it soon, because we need an epic Wu-Tang album way more than some NFTs.