Updated: Apr 26
Independent British rapper, Shao Dow, has metaphorically touched down in Saskatchewan, as his most recent album, "The Way of Shao", has been imported by Saskatoon's Collector's Edge Comics and Games where it is now on sale; marking the first time Shao's work has been available in the province.
There's more to this story than just a Rap act seeing their work becoming available in a new territory for the first time. See, the story of Shao Dow is one that you would be forgiven for thinking is the plot to a movie, but this is real, this is his legit, lived experience.
Allow us to walk you through it. Shao Dow is verifiable polymath, a man with a dazzling amount of skills that fill out his repertoire. Beyond his career in Hip Hop, Shao is a trained martial arts expert; having trained in Shaolin Kung Fu while living in China for a time. In-fact, you can see Shao Dow practicing Kenjutsu (or "swordsmanship") and Nunchaku on his Instagram and YouTube. He's a well-versed writer, having written and published his own full-length Manga, also called "The Way of Shao". And this is all before mentioning that he holds a degree in Law in his native UK.
North Sask Music Zine's very own Mark Allard-Will interviewed Shao in a Facebook Live broadcast for the aforementioned Collector's Edge in Saskatoon. When asked to expand upon why he chose to pursue a career in music over one in law, Shao Dow stated: "When I completed my degree and I realised that I needed to get a real person job, the thought of working for somebody else and following along a set pathway and doing what everybody else did, kind of made me feel sick to my stomach. And I realised what I did, musically, was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, ideally."
The Way of Shao album cover art
And this multifaceted identity forges Shao's identity as a rapper. In the single, "Katana Flow", a song that plays upon themes of battle built around his training in Far East martial arts, the lyric "See, I could've been a lawyer, but I chose the pen" is cleverly weaved in there; alluding to the rapper's choice to forgo law in favour of pursuing the arts.
But, of course, we at North Sask Music Zine are all about the music and that's where this gets really interesting, because Shao Dow is not like the other rappers; he reaches in to other genres, seeking out musicians from genres as varied as Jazz, Rock and Metal, forging working relationships with them and getting them to perform compositions that form the musical backbone to his tracks. A prime example of this is Ricky On Guitar, a Rock and Latin Music guitarist heard on a few key tracks on the aforementioned The Way of Shao. When asked by Mark what drives his choices in musicians, Shao said the following: "Honestly, just dopeness. You know, if I like it, that's about all I ask for. I just like to hear a good vibe, I just like to hear something that inspires me, that makes me want to write, that makes me want to say something."
And, this is all before we cover something we alluded to earlier, Shao Dow represents himself in the music industry; there are no record labels or managers here, yet the recording and production quality sounds like something that stands firmly toe-to-toe with any major label Rap act you could name off the top of your head. Impressive, as an adjective, wouldn't do the quality enough justice.
So, what do you say Saskatchewan, why don't we give Shao Dow that warm Saskatchewan welcome we're known for? Signed copies of the album, The Way of Shao, are available for the first time in the entire province at Saskatoon's Collector's Edge Comics and Games.
Mark's entire interview with Shao Dow can be viewed below.