There are some fans you just don’t want to piss off. Beliebers, for a start. They never fail to jump to JB’s defense, and they're ready to issue death threats to anyone standing within ten feet of him. Then you've got the subculture fans; people who hide in their bedrooms laughing at everyone else until they're poked with a cattle prod, prompting them to unleash the kind of fury normal people reserve for pedophiles or Donald Trump. But hip-hop heads can be the most butthurt of all, desecrating anyone who speaks ill of DOOM, or worse, still forgets to write his name in all caps. Lots of rap groups have insane fanbases, but none of them are as insane as the Wu-Tang Clan.
You’d think that the Wu would have known better than to do a number on their legion of devoted fans. Except they did, deciding to release just a single copy of their long-shelved silver and nickel-engraved double album The Wu - Once Upon A Time In Shaolin for a multimillion dollar sum in an auction. The album will do the rounds at galleries and festivals before it’s sold—where swindled visitors can listen to the record for $50 a pop. To counter this marketing ploy, Wu fans got together and set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise money, hoping to win the bid for the album and spread it around in the name of cultural democracy instead of letting it sit in the pocket of one fat cat.
Chris Everhart—one of the craziest Wu-Tang fans—has taken matters into his own hands with an alternate crowdfunding approach. He has gone to the extreme length of setting up his own Kickstarter project in an attempt to raise $6 million to purchase and then elaborately destroy Wu’s new album in an "artistic and grandiose manner". The official Wu kickstarter ended yesterday on around $15,400 with nearly 700 backers. Everhart’s isn’t far behind, having raised over $10,400 with only 25 backers, but his has another 48 days remaining. We caught up with him to find out why a fan would raise money to buy this expensive album just to destroy it.
Noisey: Do you seriously think you’ll actually be able to raise $6 million?
Chris Everhart: I seriously think I will be able to. I believe in my cause. In theory, if I were able to reach a global audience, I think that there are enough people out there that would wish to contribute. That being said, I have tempered expectations with regards to raising the funds in the 60 day limit Kickstarter provides. If this goal is not attained, I do have a back up plan. This is not just to make a point. I want the album.
What is your back up plan?
I will begin another campaign that doesn't limit me to 60 days to raise the funds, and I will refund everyone that contributed via Kickstarter.
That's nice. You've said that you’re going to broadcast the destruction live and have described it as "ritualistic." What are you planning to do to it exactly?
This is a work in progress. Unfortunately, at this time the answer to this question is, "it depends." Suppose that the purchase of the album takes my full money goal. That leaves little for my performance piece. If I have some left to tool around with, it will have some more gusto to say the least. To throw you a bone here, though, I am currently considering liquefaction and/or returning the work to the earth. There will be no five second bra burning here.
What would you compare it to in terms of rituals?
The Crucifixion of Christ, or maybe the flight of Muhammad. I don't know much about the Five-Percent Nation, but I know that the Wu is into that. So maybe I will respectfully mirror one of their traditions.
What do you want to prove by destroying it in such a grandiose manner?
I have nothing to prove. By creating a work of art (in my performance piece) I wish to do just that, create art. Art can be defined in rigid or loose terms depending on the context and the motive of the person defining. To me personally, art is something that happens. Creation and destruction alike are capable of becoming art. My performance would accurately be described as protest art. I am protesting the decision to limit a piece of art to the bourgeoisie for monetary gain. I am the proletariat, and I will not stand for this.
You’ve accused Wu-Tang of being "self-righteous," but aren't you kind of doing something similar? Or is that the point?
I interpret this move by the Wu-Tang as "self-righteous" on multiple levels. On one level, the sense of self-importance that their work of art is worth this price tag is egotistical to the core. Sadly, this will be confirmed if someone actually pays a multi-million dollar sum in order to purchase it. This remains to be seen.
RZA has compared this work to that of Mozart. WTF WTC?! This is blasphemy coming from a musician. Mozart's work has stood the test of time for over two centuries. I don't care how full of yourself you may be. Ayo RZA, I checked out The W and your "Gravel Pit." That shit was garbage. Also, I don't recall Mozart creating performance pieces to advertise St. Ides "Premium" Malt Liquor. Let history compare you to Mozart. Not your own big mouth. This reeks of Kanye West.
Why do you not even want to listen to the album?
Two reasons: to protest this political and financially motivated move and because their last two group albums weren't worth listening to. The world will be just fine with one less coaster in my (or some billionaire's) living room.
So what are you doing to spread the word/raise money?
Nothing. I believe that a worthy cause will reach the masses without promotion. I'm an optimist that believes (perhaps naively) that evil will fall and the just will rise in this world.
You’ve also said how all art should be shared with the world. So how is this any different to any song that is only available through purchase on iTunes?
Because billions of people worldwide have access to iTunes and can buy your song for pennies. Plus, my buddy can download it and then own it and play it as he wishes with those in his or her life. If these assholes believe their shit is gold, wouldn't they shit bricks and pass them out to the poor? Nope, apparently, they'd shit bricks and lock them up in some rich guy's bathroom for the right price.
And if you were to walk past RZA or any of the other Wu-Tang members in the street after all of this, what would you do/ say to them?
That is a sliding scale of a question. U-God, Deck, 'Kwon, Ghost, Method Man: I would say nothing. If Wu comes together like Voltron then these guys are like the shins and elbows and shit. Except for Method Man who is clearly the gold tooth.
I’m not sure if Raekwon would like being called an elbow. Any last words?
I am a Wu-Tang fan. I remember getting off of school, jumping on my bicycle, and racing to the record store to buy Wu-Tang Forever. The guys are millionaires now and think they are above the fans. News flash Walter Cronkite: You aren't. Listen to your friend Hank Moody, he's a cool dude. The fans made you. I can't take back the millions that have come from that fan support. But I can say no more. I was going to tell my son, "Yo shorty, you don't even have to go to summer school, pick up the Wu-Tang CD and you'll get all the education you need this year," but I can't. Because some rich asshat has it in a 100 disc CD changer with track three on repeat. Wu-Tang is NOT here forever, M&%f$#s!
Lev Harris grew up on the crime side, the liquified album side. He's on Twitter - @LevHarris1
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