I’ve got a funny feeling that this is the plot to Undercover Brother 2: Electric Boogaloo. But in case it ain’t, let me run it down for you. Last week it was revealed that Martin Shkreli, the young pharmaceutical exec who jacked up the price of AIDS medication 5000%, purchased the single copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s secret album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin for about $2 million.
In a rare show of solidarity, the social justice internet and the mom’s basement rap fan internets raised a motherfuckin’ ruckus, because Martin Shkreli is the millennial version of Dr. Evil.
All the way up on a misty Japanese mountaintop, RZA caught hell for accepting blood money from The Man, uncoiled himself from lotus position and promised to donate some or all of the proceeds to charity. And then, because it's 2015, threw some Twitter shade at Shkreli.
From his lair inside of a hollowed out volcano, Shkreli took a break from drinking blood out of the diamond-crusted skulls of orphaned squirrels and threatened to sue the Wu, considered getting his fellow Albanian Wu-baiter Action Bronson in the mix, and, perhaps worst of all, talked about bailing out Bobby Shmurda so he can finally make that second song.
The entire situation is a mess on the level of, well, the Wu-Tang/Rage Against the Machine tour, and I feel all sorts of types of ways about it.
Here are a few thoughts.
1. There’s no way this album is good
Show of hands: Who listened to A Better Tomorrow? (Editor's note: I did.)
Let’s be real. As a group, The Wu dropped a bonafide classic, a bonafide classic with ten extra songs of trash on it, and four shiny silver recycling bin fillers (I kinda rode for 8 Diagrams in 2007, but I was going through some stuff at the time). (Editor's note: Wu-Forever was a classic. We can go song for song if you'd like.) Plus, those two good albums came out during the Clinton administration, and Slick Willie was holding it down two decades ago. Being generous, that means The Wu has a 33% success rate. There’s no way Once Upon a Time in Shaolin isn’t about to be some mess full of hotep mysticism, voicemails from ODB, Capadonna rapping like the fifth guy at a lunch table cypher, Method Man’s corny uncle jokes, and Raekwon sounding irritated that he isn’t eating some mafioso-approved pasta dish that my lactose-intolerant ass couldn’t even look at without getting the bubbleguts. Come on.
2. The guy who made “C.R.E.A.M.” is mad at a guy who lets cash rule everything around him?
Sit down, RZA. You already gave Lil’ Scrooge his soundtrack for jacking up the price of AIDS and cancer meds.
3. I'm glad The Wu got a payday…
You know U-God needs to buy a few things. Did you read that Grantland profile from last year where he ran out on his taxi? It was raw like cocaine, straight from Bolivia.
3.5 …too bad it was blood money
If you have $2 million to spend on a record, you have waaaaaaaaaaay more than $2 million sitting around, and you didn’t get that money by jumping up and down, sharing candy and uplifting the people. It’s upsetting to think that this Shkreli jerk’s business practices aren’t unique, that this type of shady shit goes on all the time, and that whoever wound up with Once Upon a Time in Shaolin would almost certainly have some blood on their hands.
4. Of course that dude bought it
He’s a rich guy. You have to think you’re special to get that rich. And if you think you’re special, then you think you deserve special things, like the only existing copy of a rap record.
It’s easy to think of Wall Street cats as the ‘80s stereotype of White guys in suits lighting cigars with $100 bills, but it’s been 30 years since that Wolf of Wall Street era. It makes sense that a finance goon in his 30s came up on the same music as us. He’s not gonna be spending his money on dusty old stuff like baseballs that Ty Cobb wrote "nigger" on. He’s gonna buy a unique rap album. Wouldn’t you?
5. One of my boys got back on Twitter just to say he hopes Ghostface had Shkreli murked on a toilet, and Shkreli liked the tweet
Just wanted to tell y’all that because it’s funny. Peep @getmummy’s feed.
6. The Bill Murray heist clause was a lie
It’s a great idea, entertaining as hell to imagine, and would serve justice hilariously, but there’s no way some random guy on Twitter got that info.
Chris L. Terry looks like Kid from Kid 'n' Play, but he's too busy dabbin' to do the dance. He lives in L.A. by Ray Charles' old house, and his novel Zero Fade was on Best of 2013 lists by Slate.com, Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association