Wu-Tang Clan to Release 'A Better Tomorrow,' 20th Anniversary Record, with Warner Bros. Records
Wu-Tang Clan won't die this year
Warner Bros. Records will be the home of the Wu-Tang Clan's forthcoming record A Better Tomorrow, Billboard has confirmed with the label. The record will be released later this year — still well within the legal limits for the group to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
"Wu-Tang Clan is responsible for creating a deep discography of iconic rap music," Warner Bros. Records chairman and CEO Cameron Strang tells Billboard, "spawning incredibly successful careers for each of the group’s individual members, and launching Wu-Tang into a full-fledged brand beyond their music. Two decades on, they remain a major force in hip-hop. I speak for everyone on our team when I say how thrilled we are to be the new home for one of hip-hop’s most influential groups. This is an exciting day in the history of Warner Bros. Records, and we can’t wait to contribute to the next phase of their careers."
A Better Tomorrow may truly deliver the goods. If what Wu-Tang leader RZA told Billboard earlier this week holds true, the record may bring a notable departure from RZA's signature gothic production style.
"It's a record to me that merges the way music was made in the classic essence, in an analog way. … The process of making this album was very unique for me. I started first in my home studio in L.A., then I went to my buddy Adrian Younge and I went to his basement in Southern California where he has all this old '60s equipment that he's been using." From there RZA headed to Memphis. "I recorded a lot of songs with the same guys who played on a lot of Isaac Hayes music and all the Stax, Hi, Willie Mitchell records," RZA told Billboard. "I recorded at Willie Mitchell's studio, with his son Boone Mitchell, using some of the same old equipment that made 'Love and Happiness.' "
It will be the Wu-Tang's first full-length since 2007's 8 Diagrams and sixth overall — sort of. A different record, The Wu — Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, was created by RZA earlier this year in a single-copy, silver-festooned edition that reportedly garnered a $5 million bid. The public hasn't heard that record yet, though Forbes provided the world with a 51-second sample.
RZA, not one to rest on his laurels, also revealed to Billboard earlier this week that the Wu will be releasing a Bluetooth speaker that comes embedded with A Better Tomorrow bonus tracks. Both the speaker and the silver-boxed Once Upon a Time have been ways to, as RZA has said, "change the idea and the venue of music," revaluing the art form in the age of free.
It looked, in the build-up to A Better Tomorrow, like the record would never come to pass — RZA and principal Wu member Raekwon argued in the media earlier in the year before calling a truce. The dispute seemed to center around remuneration — which we all know rules everything around us.
This article first appeared on Billboard.com.