Mr Shaodow from the group Elementz Bound is a London rapper who is now studying Business and Law in Oxford. He decided to form the cryptic name Shaodow by combining two elements that he knew would be his constant companions throughout life, his love for Kung Fu and his silhouette. Find out what he had to say when we caught up with him…
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, who your crew are and who they are associated with?
Mr Shaodow: I go by the name Mr Shaodow (pronounced Sha – ow –dough), its a hybrid between Shaolin and Shadow. Basically I spent a bit of time out in China learning Kung Fu with the monks, I wrote my first song (Back 2 Da Drawing Board) out there. Both kung fu and music mean a lot to me, I wanted my artist name to reflect both sides and so here it is Mr Shaodow.
I’ve lived in London for the majority of my life and I’ve only just moved up to live in Oxford, I’m currently studying Law and Business in university. The way I see it, as much as I love rapping, I have to be realistic, if my dream doesn’t work out I’ll need something to fall back on.
Finally the crew I’m with is known as Elements Bound, a group of independent artists. Now when I say artists I don’t just mean rappers, producers and DJs, I’m also talking about clothes designers, film makers, photographers etc. Basically everybody in the group has an element (something they do just because they love doing it rather than for the money) and we’re all bound by our respective arts.
Do you ever hang out with the more established acts down there? Is there a family atmosphere?
Mr Shaodow: If you mean down there as in London then defiantly not, everybody in London is a rapper, the way I see it trying to make a solid name there is too difficult for a self funded rapper like myself so I don’t do too much rapping in London at the moment. On my travels I have crossed paths with a few acts that are more established than myself, but I don’t really see the point in name dropping, we’re all human and compared to the American boys few of us UK acts are ‘established’ right now.
In Oxford I have tried to meet up with as many artists as possible and I’m currently collaborating with a few of them so keep an ear out. In my opinion Oxford is dominated by ‘rock’ music it’s a problem because hip hop seems to be struggling and it’s gonna take a huge effort from all parties to pull it into the limelight.
Are there any other producers or MCs in your crew to look out for?
Mr Shaodow: Well anybody flying the Elements Bound flag would be a start that’s a definite seal of quality, to name a few, Spectral Rapper / producer, Serge in charge of the DJs and drum and bass, PQ A.K.A Manny Moscow and my other producer Offkey.
Apart from that I’ll do something rare and put my huge rapper ego to one side and mention some artists from Oxford. Erm you can look out for Asher Dust, Inspekt ‘a’ Rhyme, GTA, Livestock and Zuby, well, that’s my good deed done for the day.
What are your thoughts about the state of UK hip hop?
Mr Shaodow: This is kinda my point, nobody really wants to help anybody else in the UK, unless there is money involved. With rappers the ego gets involved and its like “I’m the best rapper” and “you should only listen to me and buy my stuff” and “blah blah blah”.
At the end of the day we’re still trying to sound and act American rather than concentrating on finding our own sound, really my tune ‘The British Are Coming’ contains the majority of my thoughts on UK hip hop so rather than listening to me ramble on its best to just listen to it.
Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire?
Mr Shaodow: To be honest I rarely listen to UK hip hop unless someone else is listening to it, the main reason is because I’m still developing myself as an artist, I find that the more you listen to rap the more you begin to sound like the person you are listening to.
Right now I’m working on making my sound a unique representation of myself, so you might catch me listening to Rock, Jazz, Classical or even Chinese hip hop.
Who or what are your other influences?
Mr Shaodow: God, Life, my family all sorts really I write songs about things that I’ve seen or experienced or just feel strongly about, I really think its time to more away from the same old concepts onto something new.
I understand that you are studying Law at Oxford. What effect does this have in the way you are perceived?
Mr Shaodow: Well it makes it difficult to convince people that I’m a gangster.
Seriously though I hope at the very least it’ll show that you can be a good rapper without having to the street talk and violence in every song.
I understand that Spectral does your production. Can you tell us how you hooked up and how you go about making a track together?
Mr Shaodow: It’s a very long story but basically he worked as a sound technician at my college, I started hanging out with him and he explained what he wanted to do with Elements Bound. During my gap year I hung out in the Eb studio and learnt to rap.
Spectral has over 16 years of experience in music off the top of my head I think he’s a sound engineer, rapper, producer and business man. He passed on some of those things to me but to be honest there’s still a lot to learn.
Do you like to make beats first and then write rhymes to them, or do you prefer writing a rhyme and creating a beat for it later, or does it all happen at once? What are the reasons for this?
Mr Shaodow: It depends, more often than not I’ll get the beat off Spectral and spend a couple months working on it, I take time with my lyrics because they’re gonna go out into the world and people are gonna hear them, I want to be proud of every single one of my songs, not look back later and wish I’d done it better.
When I hear a beat that really speaks to me I just listen to it over and over till I get a strong concept and then put pen to pad. Honestly I feel as if most of my tunes have written themselves I reread them and I really can’t believe that the lyrics have come from me.
So you are releasing your own CDs. How do you find it running your own business?
Mr Shaodow: It feels great, one way or another I have a hand in creating the total product, from writing the lyrics to recording it, I even design and press the cd’s myself so when I hit the streets with them I feel proud of what I’ve achieved so far.
Are you looking to get signed?
Mr Shaodow: Haha only if I’m looking to be controlled. I’ve seen the way that artists get treated by some record labels and it’s not for me. If I can do the majority of things a record label would do for me why do I need to be signed? True it takes a LOT longer without the financial backing of a big name but at least I’ll be able to say I did it myself.
Can you break down your EP? What is is called and what did you aim to achieve with it?
Mr Shaodow: My first proper Ep is called ‘The Shaodow Saga’ it’s a 6 track CD featuring some of the strongest tunes I had at the time including the controversial ‘Look Out There’s A Black Man Coming’ more than anything I wanted to prove to myself that I could put together a CD and sell it.
What has the reaction to the CD been like so far?
Mr Shaodow: I can’t think of a single complaint, when I’ve got feedback it seems that everybody has a least one track on the CD that they really like. Even people that don’t even like Hip hop have responded really positively.
I wanted the EP to be a diverse collection of music and I’d like to think that each track is worthy of being a single. I believe its important that the songs on your cd are more than just two strong ones and the rest just filler.
Where can people pick up your stuff?
Mr Shaodow: Usually off me directly you can get at me on www.myspace.com/mrshaodow or if you see a guy on the street wearing Elements Bound clothing that’s probably me. Otherwise I aim to have the tracks on I tunes real soon.
How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently?
Mr Shaodow: Well I’m not going to be the next Jay Z but then again I don’t want to be. Really I’m just being me I’d expect my music to appeal to the people that are tired of stereotypical music, I want people to like what I make because its good not just because its rap.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
Mr Shaodow: I really couldn’t tell you I have so many things in the pipeline I forget most of them, although I can say that I’ll be working on my 3rd music video in the near future (you can see the first two on www.myspace.com/mrshaodow ) I aim to do a few collaborations with some of the artists in Oxford I’m very excited about that, I’ll also have a new CD coming out its very very very different to what is usually done, I can’t say much more than that before someone steals my idea. Apart from that I’ll be working on new clothing designs, getting out and about for performances and of course writing new songs.
What are your longer term plans?
Mr Shaodow: I guess to keep going as I am but on a much larger scale, constantly revaluating and improving myself, the moment you think you’re the best is when you stop trying to get better.
What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop then? Is it straight down the pub?
Mr Shaodow: Haha more like straight onto the Nintendo Wii, playing my games is the best way I relax, my life is hectic enough with University, holding down a 9 -5 music and Kung Fu, the only time you might see me in a pub is if I’m performing there.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Mr Shaodow: Um yeah, I’m the best rapper and you should only listen to my stuff, no other rapper exists and blah blah blah.
Is there anyone else you would like to mention?
Mr Shaodow: Yeah a big shout out to God.
Finally, what are your favourite crisps?
Mr Shaodow: It’s gotta be the Orange Doritos but make sure you have some mints for afterwards or your breath will smell like a foot.
Thank you for your time.
Mr Shaodow: Thank you it was a pleasure.