Shao Dow, award-winning rapper, author and occasional Ninja

Sometimes fallen heroes need help getting back up – not total deletion from social media. I am Shao Dow, an award-winning rapper, manga author and occasional Ninja. I have been making a living from my artistry for the past 10 – 15 years.

Over that time, I’ve performed at Reading and Leeds Festivals, spoken in Parliament on behalf of small music venues, appeared on Ninja Warrior UK, performed in many different countries around the world and won an award that recognised me as the hardest working artist of the year.

I grew up in South -east London, I went to school in New Cross, I have strong (often angry) opinions about the Blackwall Tunnel and I’m convinced that it would be faster to drive to France than to get to north-west London.

It’s a fact that my lyrical style and general outlook on life was hugely influenced by my time spent training in Shaolin Kung Fu in China, it’s where I got the inspiration for my artist name from.

But living in South London has of course had its own way of influencing my music.

I recall driving to and from college in my 1986 red VW Polo blasting Ludacris through the two house-speakers that had been precariously wired into the boot of the car.

I remember first hearing So Solid Crew’s 21 Seconds’and trying to write my own lyrics (they were NOT good), I remember walking around Mountsfield Park or Forster Park with my headphones on, working on new songs.

I’m proud of the fact that artists like P Money and Novelist are from the same general area as me.

I’m proud that Grime is an authentically UK music genre that originated in East London. I mean, I’m South East so that’s like half of a win, right?

This summer, though, one of Grime’s undisputed pioneers was all over the news. In case you hadn’t heard, Wiley had a lot to say about the Jewish community.

I won’t repeat it, but I will say this – racism in all forms is disgraceful. As a young black man, I know what discrimination looks and smells like and I don’t like it.

Whether it’s racism against Black people, Jewish people, Asian people, White people, doesn’t matter, enough is enough. It needs to be called out and the perpetrators need to be re-educated, ideally with a degree of love and understanding.

Making sweeping negative generalisations about an entire race of people because of the actions of few is unacceptable.

When the incident first happened, I was interviewed by BBC Radio 5 Live and asked for my opinion. I said similar to what I’ve written here, and I stand by it.

My working relationship with Wiley has been up and down. He has invited me to perform at on one of his tour shows during the early days of my career and we’ve had shouting matches over the phone.

Earlier this year, before the incident in question, I wrote a song addressing him.

I aired my frustrations about someone who is so ultra-talented, someone I used to look up to, someone who many people still look up to but yet for whatever reason, has destructive rants and meltdowns on Twitter.

A song about someone who would randomly decide not to turn up to his own shows and would ‘seem’ to be jeopardising his legacy with his erratic behaviour.

That’s what I love about Hip-Hop and Grime in particular, it’s that freedom to express yourself and say what’s on your mind in a stylish and musical way.

Freedom of speech, freedom of artistry and freedom of expression are STILL important. Now of course, if that freedom is being used to incite hatred and violence then that needs to be stopped.

The perpetrator needs to be reprimanded, the offensive material removed or limited and the punishment needs to be proportional.

That is correct. The way Wiley has been treated and dealt with in the aftermath of his outbursts in my opinion has not been proportional or correct.

Before I’m wilfully misquoted, yes, the tweets should’ve been removed, yes, he should’ve been punished, I even agreed with the initial temporary ban on Twitter. But then it went further.

He was permanently banned on Twitter, he was banned on Instagram, and then on Tiktok and then his entire channel was deleted on YouTube and decades of work from a man who could easily be considered a modern-day genius disappeared.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that the punishment needs to at least attempt to be proportional to the crime, this was not.

It took less time to remove Wiley from the internet than it did to get rid of Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson (Stephen Yaxley) from social media. David Vance spewed his nonsense at Marcus Rashford and was rightly banned on Twitter. But he’s still on YouTube, so is Hopkins for that matter.

The pedlers of genuine hate and discrimination are still able to flee with their tails between their legs over to competitor sites like Parler while making complaints about the evils of left and blah blah blah freedom of speech violation.

Wiley has contributed far more to this country than the people above.

Punishment for what he did, yes, but the subsequent, almost systematic dismantling of his legacy does not sit right with me.

I want to see Wiley’s social media accounts reinstated and the music on his channel restored to its rightful place on YouTube.

He deserves an opportunity to learn from his mistakes and do better.  He deserves help getting back up.  I urge you to give it some thought.

 


 

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