The RZA has been called a genius music maker, but he’s also known for his business acumen. The legendary producer and hip-hop artist from the Wu-Tang Clan has sold 50 percent of his Wu-Tang and solo catalogs to music IP investment and song management firm Hipgnosis Songs, according to Variety.
The deal included 814 pieces of work and is also part of Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s ongoing efforts to build ownership in its hip-hop catalog.
Hipgnosis Songs has bought catalogs from mega-producer Timbaland, Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, Jack Antonoff, and Jeff Bhasker. Between March 2019 and March 2020, the British company spent nearly $700 million to acquire 42 catalogs, Hip Hop DX reported.
Hipgnosis Songs is a British Guernsey-registered company founded in 2018 by Canadian–American music industry executive and entrepreneur Merck Mercuriadis, and legendary African-American musician Nile Rodgers.
Neither the RZA nor Hipgnosis released how much the deal was worth.
Throughout his career, RZA has shown his skills for making deals and wise investments. Even before the Wu dropped their first album, RZA set up a company called Wu-Tang Productions and drafted a 20-year plan, NPR reported.
“RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan did not invent hip-hop, but they took it from being fun to something that represented a true reflection of what the streets, and being Black in America was really like,” Mercuriadis said in a statement. “They were and are the most authentic band and brand in hip-hop and it all starts with RZA’s vision, his songs, and his struggle, manifested in music, that could show the entire world what was really going on.”
RZA is now globally recognized as a true renaissance man of hip-hop and most would argue that he is the GOAT, Mercuriadis added.
The deal includes RZA’s worldwide copyrights including publishing and writer shares.
“I wear various hats in my artistic expressions but the one that has been so deeply reflective of my life’s journey is my songwriting,” RZA said. “I’m honored to partner up with Merck and the Hipgnosis team to usher my songs into an exciting future.”
Mercuriadis said that his company deals in proven hit songs that “produce reliable, predictable and uncorrelated cash flows which are highly investible.”
Among the music included in the RZA deal is the Wu’s classic debut LP “Enter The Wu (36 Chambers)” from 1993, considered one of the greatest records in hip-hop history. Then there’s the second Wu-Tang Clan album, the Grammy-nominated “Wu-Tang Forever.” Released in 1997, it debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and in the U.K. It went four times platinum.
Other Wu-Tang albums included in the deal are “The W,” “Iron Flag,” “8 Diagrams,” “A Better Tomorrow,” “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,” and “The Saga Continues” (2017).
RZA also co-wrote and produced successful solo albums for Wu-Tang members, including “Tical” by Method Man, which includes the Grammy-winning single “All I Need” featuring Mary J. Blige.
He produced the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s album, “Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version,” released in 1995, as well as Raekwon’s debut album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…,” which featured Nas; GZA’s debut album “Liquid Swords”; and Ghostface Killah’s “Ironman” in 1996. He co-produced Raekwon’s solo album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II.”
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Outside of Wu-Tang Clan, RZA worked with Kanye West as one of the producers of his fifth studio album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” released in 2010 (RZA co-wrote and co-produced opening track “Dark Fantasy,” and performed on, co-wrote and co-produced “So Appalled”). He also worked on West and Jay-Z’s collaborative studio album, “Watch the Throne,” for which he co-wrote/co-produced “New Day.”
On his own, RZA released four solo studio albums, his first being gold-certified “Bobby Digital in Stereo” in 1998.