The Wu-Tang Clan’s upcoming one-of-a-kind record, “The Wu – Once Upon A Time in Shaolin,” has been shrouded in secrecy for six years, but now you can hear exactly 51 seconds of the album, including an unexpected and improbable appearance from Cher.
In March, RZA, the producer and de-facto leader of the celebrated Staten Island, N.Y., group -- which in its heyday in the mid-'90s boasted nine distinct MCs -- announced that he had secretly been recording a new Wu-Tang album for the past six years, and that only one copy of the 31-song “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” will be released only to the highest bidder of an auction for the album. The group has reportedly received offers as high as $5 million, and last month IBTimes profiled a pair of New York-based Wu-Tang fans attempting to raise millions to “liberate” the album.
To get a closer look at the exclusive “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” Forbes journalist Zach O’Malley Greenburg traveled to Marakesh, Morocco, to speak with the album’s producer, Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh. Cilvaringz explained to Greenberg in an exclusive video that the album was recorded in such total secrecy that Wu-Tang members did not record their vocal tracks over the album's actual backing tracks, but rather over sound-alike recordings of the real thing to prevent rough cuts from leaking. According to Cilvaringz, no one, not even RZA, has a final copy of the album but him.
Then, Cilvaringz let another bomb drop. The producer played 51 seconds of the new record and revealed that at the end of an as-yet-unnamed track, legendary pop star Cher drops in to sing, "Wu-Tang, baby. They rock the world." A representative from Cher’s camp confirmed the singer’s involvement to Rolling Stone on Wednesday, but the rep added that “she recorded her part separately” and did not interact with members of the hip-hop group.
A direct confirmation wasn’t necessary, however, as the Wu-Tang Clan already made a coded announcement about their collaboration with Cher. In March, the group said that “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” “includes a special guest appearance by Bonnie Jo Mason.” As Rolling Stone points out, Cher’s first single without Sonny Bono, “Ringo, I Love You,” was released under the name Bonnie Jo Mason in 1964.
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Check out a sneak peak of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” below.