If the album business model is collapsing, the frantic rush to everything else is at least interesting.
Hip hop as a genre, of course, came from a deconstruction and reconstruction of the album, from the early evolution of DJ techniques and sampling. So, the fact that Wu Tang is skipping the conventional release altogether is new, but it’s also connected to history.
Sure, plenty of artists have gone for remix contests and the like. What’s different in Wu Tang’s case is that this time, the debut track “So Many Detailz” from their Parent Advisory will head straight to Blend as raw session files.
Instead of downloading stems, Blend provides would-be remixers with Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Apple Logic Pro session formats, the exposed ingredients of the tracks.
Blend is a site and collaboration platform, backed by funding from NYC VC/startup seed Betaworks. (Tumblr, Airbnb, Groupon, and Twitter all saw Betaworks funding – this is one hot Silicon Alley property.) Blend uses Dropbox as the back end in order to manage multiple people manipulating session files in a variety of popular DAWs. Pro Tools, Live, and Logic are your three choices here, but FL Studio, Maschine, and GarageBand are supported, too, with more promised. We looked at GitHub earlier today for notation, but that tool was built for code (and text) first. Blend applies a similar approach to the more-complex DAW project format. As with GitHub, individual users “pull” projects and contribute them back again with changes – ideal for the solo workflow.
The site has so far been popular with nerdy electronic music producers – not so much hip hop. Think Moby and Prefuse73; Mad Zach even released an entire EP as a collaborative project.
But it seems Wu-Tang is hopeful that this is a new direction – both for opening up hip hop to new audiences, and reshaping the industry.
Wutang Parental Advisory is the specific project. To be clear, Wu-Tang Clan have a number of projects – they’re a collective. (Note the word “clan.”) Parental Advisory is headed up by Oliver Grant – an interesting choice, because apart from executive production credits for WTC, he has consistently been the one leading up business operations like clothes. (He’s also listed as a co-founder. If that surprises you, well, there were a whole lot of co-founders of WTC – not just the ones like RZA you know.)
Grant, aka Power, tells Blend that he hopes that their work will find new life: “you guys take it and spit it back on us,” he says. “We’re looking to be shocked, whether it’s EDM, or whatever version it is. It may be Switzerland, a guy who wouldn’t be on the hip hop sites, but he’s going to be on Blend, checking out what’s new.”
Here’s that track:
Clarification: I had the press information before I was able to grab the track, and here’s where I agree there is a significant disappointment. You’re just getting an a cappella. If Wu-Tang or any other artist wants to win over producers, they need to provide more materials than that. The idea that that’d be appealing to dance music producers is laughable. I regret that we weren’t clear on this in the original release.
Harsh words for the industry from Grant find their way straight into the press release: “Fools got stuck, the industry got caught up with Napster and iTunes, fighting that shit. It’s like yo, ya dummy, y’all should’ve embraced them,” he says. “Cause that’s what they did eventually ending up doing, after they cried and all that bullshit. And then you would have been making dollars from day one.”
Cappadonna’s track “Vegan” will also be on Blend:
More info on Blend:
If you want to try this out for yourself – or put your own music on Blend – you can sign up for free, using our exclusive CDM VIP pass: