Sotherby’s is auctioning the E-MU SP-1200, used by RZA to produce Wu-Tang’s 1993 classic Enter the Wu-Tang

Released November 9, 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is an album that needs little introduction. One of Hip Hop’s most lauded debuts, 36 Chambers signaled a tide-turning force in the genre and became the gold standard for the assertive sounds of 1990s hardcore rap. The album peaked at number 41 on the Billboard charts, going certified platinum in 1995 and remains one of Hip Hop’s most influential of all time—ranked at number 27 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2020 and in 2022, 36 Chambers was archived in the Library of Congress.

To this day, one of 36 Chamber’s most striking features is it’s production—lead entirely by Clan member and de-facto leader RZA—that fuses classic soul samples with audio clips ripped from martial arts films Shaolin and Wu-Tang (1983) and Ten Tigers from Kwangtung (1979), mixes created almost end-to-end on the machine on offer here.

Originally released in 1987, the E-mu Systems SP-1200 quickly became the must-have piece of studio gear for independent Hip Hop artists and producers through the end of the 20th century. Combining the drum machine & sampler into a single piece of technology, the SP-1200 streamlined Hip Hop engineering processes made it possible to construct almost the entirety of a track on a single piece of portable gear with an ease and a speed that lent itself perfectly to the lo-fi, mash-up heavy early days of Hip Hop.

Reducing the need to rely entirely on rented studio space and hired engineers, the SP-1200 returned power to young artists at the beginning of their careers, allowing them levels of creative control they otherwise would not have had. The SP-1200 was a fundamental tool in unleashing the Wu-Tang’s inimitable sound from shores of Shaolin, and RZA’s SP-1200 is perhaps one of the machine’s greatest contributions to not only Hip Hop, but the total landscape of American music.

The E-MU is expected to fetch between $50 000 – $80 000 USD. Find out more (or have a bid) via Sotherby’s

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