This is Local London
By Nikki Jarvis »
Most aspiring rap stars rely on record labels and managers to boost them up the ladder of fame.
Lewisham rapper proves you can make it big without X Factor or record labels
But one inspirational musician from Lewisham – who gave up a career in law to pursue his dream – is proving grit, determination and a little cash for train tickets are all you need.
ShaoDow, aka Elliott Haslam, has sold 10,000 CDs of his original tracks by travelling all over the UK and talking to people on the streets about music.
The 26-year-old, who also spent months in China learning Shaolin Kung Fu, hopes to send out the message that anything is possible with hard work.
He even calls his fans the DIY Gang.
“I always wanted to go to China and learn Shaolin Kung Fu, so when I was 18, I saved up some money and went in my gap year.” Elliott told Vibe.
“I believe in living life – if you have an ambition it’s better to try and do it rather than just thinking about it.
“I was always passionate about music but I thought it would be good to have a back-up plan.”
Elliott graduated with a 2:1 in law, but he loved making music too much not to try earning a living from it.
Now, his video Get Stronger has attracted nearly 110,000 views on YouTube and his album Cut the BullSpit reached number 25 in the iTunes hip-hop charts.
ShaoDow creates songs in a diverse range of genres including rock, house, grime and dubstep.
He added: “Normally, on Monday to Saturday I will just pick somewhere in the country, get on the train and just talk to people.
“I ask them what sort of music they listen to, explain about myself – I’m always very polite.
“I’m trying to sell them something they haven’t heard before.
“The furthest away I’ve been is Edinburgh.
“The further I get out of London, the more open people are to explore different music.”
Elliott, who attended Haberdasher's Askes' Hatcham College, has also started selling his own merchandise.
He added: “Fans have made a habit of coming to find me so they can buy the cap off my head.
“It happened five times in a row recently.
“It was really cold and my head was freezing but I’m never going to deny a fan something they want.”
Veering away from the gangster image of some rappers, Elliott’s album offers something for all music lovers.
“I’m a rap artist but I’m not doing the whole ‘I’m a gangster’ thing.” He said.
“I love the way words fit together and I started writing poetry first.
“Success for me is still a long way away.
“My goal from the start was to be a self sustaining artist, which ironically I am now, but I want to do it to a much bigger degree.”
Although Elliott now has a manager, he co-manages himself and does most of the legwork, having handed out 50,000 flyers over the last couple of years.
He said: “If you have drive and determination, you can make it happen – even without X Factor.”
ShaoDow is about to embark on a tour of Thailand, and will be supporting his favourite independent artist Tech N9ne tomorrow (November 8) at Islington’s O2 Academy.
Visit MrShaoDow.com or follow him on Twitter @ShaoDowMusic