Wu-Tang Clan, the hip-hop collective that changed rap forever, is releasing an edition of 36 books with 300 pages of rare and previously unpublished photos, each in its own 400-pound steel and bronze “chamber.”
The number 36 and the sculptural setting refer, of course, to the group’s triple platinum 1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The record got 5 mics out of 5 from The Source (the publication also rated it among the 100 best rap albums), a “XXL” rating from XXL, and was assessed as one of the 500 greatest records of all time by Rolling Stone.
The 400-pound chamber is the work of UK artist Gethin Jones, whom the group describes as a “protégé of Antony Gormley.”(Jones was a designer and technician in Gormley’s studio for nine years, according to his LinkedIn page.)
The photos inside were taken by the group’s friends and family as well as professionals Danny Hastings, Kyle Christie, and Andy Cantillon, among others. Printed and bound in Italy, the book is made, of course, from “only the finest leather and materials.”
The band’s description of the chamber’s inspiration is worth quoting in full:
“Inspired by the ancient past and the bronze ritual bowls of the Zhou Dynasty whose first ruler was King Wu-Wang, the chambers consist of Spun Mild Steel bowls while the raised ridges, base and logo are furnished in solid brushed brass.”
A previous foray into limited-edition products by the Wu-Tang Clan backfired like “an Olympic diver leaping into an empty pool,” Artnet News’s Ben Davis wrote in 2015, when the group offered a one-of-a-kind record, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and none other than the reviled “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli bought it.
The group issued a statement saying that his business practices, including jacking up the prices for life-saving AIDS medicines, had come to light only after he bought the record, and that they had given a significant part of the price, which sources told Bloomberg was $2 million, to charity.
Enter your email here for “priority access,” but beware, no price for the tome and its attending sculpture is yet available.
No word from Wu-Tang’s management on how they will ensure Shkreli doesn’t buy any copies.
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