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He was first introduced as "Lil Bow Wow" to mainstream music. However, he has matured into a more skilled and explicit rap/hip hop artist. Every now and then a kid rapper breaks through and enjoys some short-term novelty success before getting swept away by the next big thing, and during the early 2000s, Lil Bow Wow was one of those kid rappers, though he did his best not to get swept away, changing his name to Bow Wow, and changing his originally poppy style to a more mature one. Born in Columbus, OH, the formerly lil' Bow Wow began rapping at a very young age and had developed his style quite impressively by the time he hooked up with Jermaine Dupri of So So Def, a successful Atlanta-based record label. Dupri had experienced much success throughout the '90s with kid rappers such as Kris Kross and Da Brat, and he saw similar potential in Bow Wow, enough to bring him aboard the So So Def hit parade. Along with his right-hand man Brian Michael Cox, Dupri wrote and produced the bulk of the preteen's debut album, Beware of Dog (2000). The album spawned a runaway breakthrough single (and summer anthem), "Bounce With Me," along with a couple heavily rotated follow-up singles, "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" (featuring Snoop Dogg) and "Ghetto Girls." All this success put Bow Wow's career into overdrive: he went back into the studio with Dupri and recorded a consciously poppy follow-up, Doggy Bag (2002), that was intended to consolidate the youngster's success, and he also went to Hollywood to star in Like Mike (2002), a kid-movie vehicle about basketball that turned out pretty well. Along the way, Bow Wow enjoyed another really big hit, "Take Ya Home" (produced by the Neptunes, right around the time that duo was unstoppable, churning out one hot hit after another), and changed his name from Lil Bow Wow to just Bow Wow. Among other changes that took place around this time, Bow Wow left So So Def and signed with Columbia, leaving his musical parents, Michael Cox and Dupri, behind as well. His first recording for Columbia, Unleashed (2003), showcased a more mature sound, one that straddled the mainstream and the streets simultaneously, but didn't do so well commercially, which didn't bode well at all for the pint-size rapper, especially considering the all-too-common fate that often befalls here-today, gone-tomorrow kid rappers.
Bow Wow ( his given name is Shad Gregory Moss) was born on March 9, 1987, in Columbus, Ohio. Lil' Bow Wow started rapping when he was 5 years old . He made guest appearances on the Dre's Chronic Tour, Snoop's Doggy Style, Will Smith's Wild Wild West and Jermaine Dupri's Big Mama's House. His "Bounce With Me" was the #1 Rap single for 8 weeks. The writers on "Bounce With Me" are Lil' Bow Wow, Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat. He has a dog named Soldier and a turtle named Snoop.
Bow Wow Turns 18, But The Real Party Starts In June
Rapper/actor has new album, new movie and Scream IV Tour set for summer.
Turning 18 may be an important rite of passage for most folks, but Bow Wow is content to wait a while before he marks it in a big way. Instead of having a huge birthday party on Wednesday, the celebration won't start until June.
The rapper's fourth album, Wanted, is due June 28 and marks a collaborative reunion with producer Jermaine Dupri . While finishing touches are still being put on the disc, Bow Wow's rep said the first single will be "Like You." The dance track, featuring crunk & B queen Ciara, is sure to be blasting when Bow Wow finally does celebrate his birthday and album release all rolled into one party.
The wait may be a surprise for fans who remember "Eighteen," the third track from his last album, where he rhymes about how he's going to commemorate this milestone immediately: "When I turn 18/ I pull up and stop, let my system knock/ They all know I'm super cool when I drop the top/ When I turn 18/ I get my crib up on my first day/ And every week we celebrate like it's my birthday."
When he finally gets the party rolling it's not going to stop for a while. His next project, the 1970s coming-of-age film "Roll Bounce," will open July 1 and is directed by Spike Lee's cousin Malcolm D. Lee (who also directed "Undercover Brother"). After conquering basketball in "Like Mike," Bow Wow is equally comfortable on wheels in the new flick. And if you're thinking dubs, then think again: The wheels in this film are roller skates . Since Bow Wow's 16th birthday party was a roller-skating celebration, this requirement didn't really pose a challenge for the rapper/actor.
Bow Wow will continue to juggle his big-screen work with his recording career. After promoting his star turn along with co-stars Nick Cannon and Meagan Good, he'll hit the road for the Scream IV Tour in July.
Bow Wow stars in the new movie ''Roll Bounce''
When Bow Wow's not shooting scenes on the set of his upcoming roller-skating movie, "Roll Bounce," he's practicing. Not practicing roller skating, but "Madden '05."
"I'm all on it!" Bow Wow boasted. "I'm murdering people on this set. Can't nobody beat me!"
As for the roller skating, Bow Wow already put in his practice, spending two weeks at skate camp before production began. Legendary roller skater Bill Butler led the sessions and is also on set for additional advising.
"He's crazy on the skates," Bow Wow said. "He taught me what I needed to know."
It's important that Bow Wow, or at least his stunt double, can skate like a pro, as his character is supposedly one of the best in Chicago.
"Let me go ahead and just brief you with the story," Bow Wow said after a little "Madden." "[My crew's] skating rink gets shut down, so we're forced to go up north in the Chicago area to Sweetwater, which is kind of a whole different vibe for us. I'm the best on my side of Chicago, but Wes [Jonathan], who plays Sweetness, he's the best on this side of town. So we kind of cross each other's paths."
Along with a lot of action-packed skating, and plenty of '70s disco music, "Roll Bounce" is loaded with drama.
"My character, X, I'm a real calm kid and skating is like my freedom, but the thing with X is, he has so many other issues in his life," Bow Wow explained. "My [character’s] mother passed away. Me and my father, which is played by Chi McBride [of 'Boston Public' fame], we kinda go back and forth. And then there's Naomi ..."
"Who is Bow Wow's love interest," continued Meagan Good, whose résumé includes "You Got Served" and "Biker Boyz." "I'm the girl that he has a crush on, but I kind of remind him of his mom who passed away, so we kinda have a little confrontation going on where he can't really be around me."
The couple's fate depends on who you listen to.
"I get to kiss Meagan in the movie, y'all," Bow Wow bragged.
"What are you talking about?" the actress responded. "When? Is that in the script?"
Along with his love interest, Bow Wow's character spends a lot of onscreen time with his crew, the Garden Boys, who were happy to introduce themselves on set (with the exception of Rick Gonzalez, who plays Naps and was appropriately taking one).
"I'm playing Junior, Bow Wow's best friend," Brandon T. Jackson said. "I'm the leader of the group at first, but X becomes the leader because he's the best skater. I influence Bow and everybody to get in the competition and stuff like that."
"I play Mixed Mike. He got the quickest temper of all of them," said Khleo Thomas, from "Holes" and "Walking Tall." "As soon as someone says something, he's quick to snap."
"I'm playing Boo, he's the sporty cat," added Marcus Paulk, a "Moesha" veteran. "He's real laid-back, having a real good time. He's not too cool with the ladies yet, but he gets himself a little fine honey at the end of the movie."
One of Bow Wow's musical peers, Nick Cannon, also has a small role in the movie, which Malcolm D. Lee ("Undercover Brother," "The Best Man") is directing.
"He's the coolest director I've worked with, although we couldn't bring our cell phones to work," Bow Wow said.
"I was trying to get them in the mode of 1978," Lee said, "and they still brought them! But these guys are putting in a lot of dedicated hard work with the skating and the acting, and after this [Bow Wow] is going to be known as Bow Wow the actor slash rapper, not the other way around."
Bow Wow Kicking It Old-School
Bow Wow is only 17 years old, and he's already talking about reinventing himself — for the second time. This time, however, it means he'll be kicking it old-school, all the way back to 2001. He's reuniting with original producer Jermaine Dupri for his fourth LP and he's bringing back one of his most beloved trademarks.
"We're trying to go for the whole vibe," Bow Wow said recently. "I'm growing my braids back. As you can see, my hair is kinda crazy — I got a 'fro right now, man. So we're bringing the old Bow Wow back — but I'm still Bow Wow, not Lil' Bow Wow no more." Earlier this year, the MC suggested that the throwback was in the works (see "Bow Wow Barking Up Donald Trump's Tree").
"I think his last record was a mistake," said Dupri, who was not involved with that album. "I think he lost a lot of kids. He had a lot of followers, and one thing [people] don't realize is that once these kids start following you and start getting their hair done like you, it's hard to drastically come out different, [with] a completely different style. It throws the kids off. I felt when Bow Wow cut his hair off, he kinda lost kids, 'cause that was his thing. Bow Wow is the leader of that little pack and I think he threw all of them off."
Bow Wow said he's hoping to release his next LP around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and although he and Dupri haven't even started recording, the pair have discussed where they want to go musically.
"He was at the forefront of the teenage rap movement and he's got to get back to it," Dupri said. "I was responsible for putting him in that place, so I'm gonna try again to put him back in the forefront."
As you might know, Dupri signed Bow Wow and produced his 2000 debut, Beware of Dog, along with most of Bow's second album, 2001's Doggy Bag. But after Dupri's label, So So Def, severed ties with Sony Music in 2002, Bow was contractually bound to Sony while Dupri headed over to Arista. The teen titan released his third album, Unleashed, in 2003 and suffered meager sales.
Although separated by business, mentor and protégé remained friends, and in February they met in Los Angeles and discussed getting back together in the studio. "Me and Jermaine's relationship is just incredible," Bow testified. "I don't even call him 'Jermaine,' I call him 'my big bro.' I'm like his little brother. I look up to JD, and JD knows that. Deep down inside, I'm sure it hurt him too, to watch me to go on by myself, knowing that he had a lot of input into my career. It was kinda hurting both of us. But yeah, man, me and JD are back."
Bow said he wants to continue to evolve as an artist, and on his new album, you'll hear his rapping and making beats.
"I'm even starting to produce," he revealed. "I've been watching JD for like five years now, so I'm taking everything I learned and using it in my own way. This fourth album is gonna stay on that mature level and just better my craft. I'm gonna talk about a lot of crazy topics that fans don't know about. I want to talk about my father — growing up, just me and my mother with no father. I want to just touch base with teenagers. I want to do a record that talks about the different things that are involved with teenagers."
One teenager he's been talking to is Dupri's newest So So Def success, J-Kwon. Bow appeared in Kwon's "Tipsy" video, and the two have done one song together that should be showing up on mixtapes soon. "He lives down here in Atlanta, I hang out with 'Kwon. I'm gonna definitely get him on my album," Bow said.
The only other guest that might take the mic on Bow's album is the man who discovered him, Snoop Dogg. "That's about it," Bow said. "I'm good. I really want this album to be all about me kicking it with the fans."
Bow's fans will have the chance to kick it with him in person and win 10 G's at the same time: He's involved in Hawaiian Punch's Unleash the Punch contest.
"The winner has to write a rap," he explained, "and whoever I feel has the hottest rap, that's who wins the $10,000 and gets the chance to meet me."
Bow Wow is the next Donald Trump
Teenage rapper/actor getting into real estate business. It's safe to say Bow Wow has different interests than most 17-year-olds.
"I've been interested in real estate, that's like my hobby now," Bow Wow said at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. "Just buy a lot of prpperty, buy a lot of buildings, and not only that, but bring in different stores. Actually, I want to bring a Von Dutch store down to the Lenox Square mall, which is the biggest mall in the city of Atlanta."
Bow Wow also plans to open his own clothing store, called Fly, selling "all the hot stuff."
Becoming the next Donald Trump might not be so easy, though, as Bow Wow has other loves dipping into his time — mainly rapping and acting.
On the music front, he's about to hit the studio with his original mentor, Jermaine Dupri, who sat out Bow Wow's last album. "We going back old-school, man," Bow Wow said. "I'm even thinking about growing my braids back."
Bow Wow has plans to reunite with another early hero as well. "I definitely wanna get Snoop back on it," he said. "And DMX and Usher. I have the opportunity to really work with a variety of different types of artists and what they bring, so I definitely will."
As for acting, he's hopes to shoot "Mr. Prez" soon (see "Bow Wow For 'President'?"), and he just signed on for his own UPN sitcom. "Right now we're in the early, early stages," he said. "I'm still meeting with the bigwigs."
Meanwhile, Bow Wow's latest movie, "Johnson Family Vacation," opens Friday (April 9). Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams and Solange Knowles star in the movie, a sort of urban update of the Chevy Chase classic "National Lampoon's Vacation."
"The kids are always up to something, fighting or [whatever], so it has its comparisons, but this is the new-millennium-type version," Bow Wow said. "Hopefully we'll be able to do a lot of sequels to this. Perhaps the 'Johnson Family Vacation to the 'Hood' or something."
The Bow Wow family business
Not long ago, Bow Wow called a meeting with Teresa Caldwell, his mother/manager — or as they say in the entertainment industry, his "momager." The 17-year-old rapper was more than satisfied with her managing, but it was taking up so much of her attention that she was slacking as a parent.
"It was hard to hear [that he was missing me as a mom], but he was right," Caldwell recalled from her office in Atlanta. "The truth is ... it's a challenge."
For Bow Wow, his mother qualifies simply based on how well she knows him. "She's my mother, so obviously she knows what I like and she knows the things that I don't like."
Another advantage of parent managers is it's a way for busy musicians who are rarely in the same city for longer than a few days to see their families on a regular basis.
"Parents don't know how to manage an artist, all they're doing is [being] there to protect their kids, especially if their kids are minors," Jackson said. "I don't even think the parents should really be called managers. They should just be there to make sure their kid is OK and let someone else with the expertise manage."
Caldwell, Bow Wow's mother/manager, does more than just protect her son, but she does work alongside a co-manager, Michael Marvin, the father of Bow Wow mentor Jermaine Dupri. After years of working as a team, she recently tried doing it on her own only to rehire Marvin a few months later. "We make sure we talk at least once a week and run things by each other before we make big decisions," Caldwell said. "It's a great scenario."
"She doesn't get too much involved in the studio," Bow Wow said of his mom. "Michael deals with that side and my mother deals with the business, as far as the acting world, all that stuff."
Psychologist LeGagnoux considers parent co-managers a way to compromise. "Not having your parent as a manager doesn't mean that you can't have them as co-management or a watchdog situation," he said. "But ideally somebody has a professional who is managing them who can do all the things and be very clear about their role."
In the end, LeGagnoux is against parent managing, although he stops short of giving medical reasons. "There's no direct link of pathology between a Hollywood mom and a mental illness, there's no condition, however that doesn't mean that anybody can't exaggerate a role and become maladaptive," he said. "Undoubtedly, there are some individuals who go across the line into pathology, only that's not the typical situation. ... Are there obsessive parents? Certainly. But there are obsessive parents in Little League. There are obsessive parents in preschool. But the majority of parents are not."
He's 17 and not so Lil' anymore!
Lil' Bow Wow fans be warned, Bow Wow isn't Lil' anymore. The movie star rapper has dropped the Lil' from his name just in time to launch his third CD, Unleashed, due out on August 19.
After starring in the hit movie "Like Mike" Bow Wow seemed to move out of the spotlight but he his back now with some big projects in the works. He has a prime time TV show, "Bow Wow", on the WB's fall line up, is launching a line of clothing called Shago Clothing, and is working on another feature film, "Johnson Family Vacation" with fellow hip hop star Solange, Vanessa Williams and Cedric the Entertainer.
But Bow Wow fans don't need to worry, this rapper is still about the music. The first single from Unleashed 'Let's Get Down' featuring Baby is already a TRL hit and Bow Wow promises that the CD will reflect the fact that he is no longer a kid.
At Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards Bow Wow told press "I'm 16 years old now, [so] I'm talking a lot of garbage, talking a lot of trash, you know what I'm saying? That's how I'm doing it on this album."
Since the age of 6, Bow Wow has been rapping on the scene alongside heavy hitters like Snoop Dogg, and starred in the blockbuster hit, Like Mike.
Born on March 9th, 1987, and bred in Columbus, Ohio, Shad Gregory Moss had a knack for rhyming, and it wasn't long before a mic was placed in his little hands. The young lad would one day be christened Lil' Bow Wow by none other than the Doggfather himself, Snoop Dogg, and would take the stage between acts on the Chronic Tour at the age of 6. Since then, his life has been anything but conventional.
After that, and over the next seven years, Lil' Bow Wow appeared on soundtracks for Wild Wild West, Big Momma's House and Like Mike (a movie in which he starred), and was even featured in magazines including Esquire, People and Vibe. By 2000, he released his own album, Beware Of Dog, which included the hit song "Bow Wow (That's My Name)," featuring none other than Snoop Dogg, and in 2001, he followed up with a sophomoric effort entitled Doggy Bag.
Over the years, Lil' Bow Wow dropped the Lil', with reason. The young man is now 16 years old, and has 10 years of experience under his belt. And if that's not enough, Bow Wow is sitting atop a mini empire that many music industry veterans would be envious of. Between his music, his acting and his clothing line, Bow Wow means business... We sat down with Bow and exchanged a few barks.
Q: You recently turned 17, but you started rapping at the age of 6. Is it true that you have been rhyming since you were 5?
Yeah, I first rhymed at 5, but it was not until I was 6 that I got serious about it, so I've been rapping for 10 years now...
Q: You're a veteran. Some rappers don't live 10 years after they start, let alone have 10 years of experience. Tell us, how did you get into rapping?
It was something that I wanted to do... my mom would always see me rapping and stuff, when you are young, you pick up some things and I always liked rapping. I rapped every chance I got, and one day I just said "this is what I want to do," I kept working hard and would do talent shows, as early as 6 years old.
Q: You got on stage once and Snoop Dogg actually saw you, and liked you... how did that go down?
People were being called on stage, so I got on stage and then they asked me to go backstage... it was in the spur of the moment, in front of 16,000 people, and I started rocking the crowd.
Q: It has now been a decade, you've been featured in magazines and made albums... do you find that, as you get older, people respect you more because of your being a child performer or does that hinder you in some way?
No, it helps. When I was younger, yeah, I was a child performer, but now, being 16 and all, it is different. I have a track record already and people respect me more. I am secure about what I do and now I sing about different things... I am starting to see a change in my fan base, now I see guys at the shows... and that is cool.
Q: Were male fans a bit more hesitant to admit to liking Bow Wow when you were younger?
Exactly... but now, it is different, I am older and I rap about different things.
Q: Rap is not exactly known for having the best role models... and if there are positive examples, let's face it; the media focuses on the bad apples... for you, going from 6 to 16, you are amongst a crowd who may influence you negatively. Do you have positive role models as well?
Oh yeah... musically, I look up to Snoop and DMX a lot... professionally, I like Puff [P. Diddy] a lot; I like how he manages his affairs. And personally, my mom is a great mentor.
From clothes to movies, Bow wants to wow everyone.
Q: I'm glad you mention your mom because hey, I like Snoop Dogg and DMX as much as the next fella, but they are not always the best role models, right?
Hmm... no, I mean, I have been with Snoop, and I can honestly say that he is a great role model, just 'cause some people say or do some stuff, does not mean that everyone will follow.
Q: You also have a clothing line?
Yeah, Shago Clothing, I am having so much fun it is ridiculous...
Q: You mention business; do you see that some are out to take advantage of you or do you believe that people will not do that?
Well, everyone around is family, so I do not need to worry about that...
Q: You have your music career, you've been in film and now, you have a clothing line... what do you really want to focus on?
My clothing line and acting; it adds value to what I do in music...
Q: How much of your music do you write?
All of it, either alone or co-written...
Q: Do you have any siblings?
Two sisters... they love it... man, especially my baby sister, I love her to death and she enjoys herself...
Q: What are some crazy highlights of your career?
Selling out MSG [Madison Square Garden] with 16,000 people on my tour.
Q: What shocks you about the business?
Not much... everything that people told me about it was true, so not much... I stay close to my mother. People said it was a shady business, I did not understand what that meant, now I do.
Q: You've worked with many people; who would you still like to work with?
I worked with Snoop, but I would love to work with him again, but DMX... I would love to work with him as well... I met him in Atlanta, I went to one of his concerts; I would love to do a song with him, I respect him and really like his music.
Q: I am a huge DMX fan, but when you first came onto the scene, you were 12 years old. You must have heard the lyrics and stuff -- what did you think about the "Parental Advisory" label and the like?
I didn't care, I didn't care about the cussing, it was entertainment... some parents are sensitive, but my mother let me listen to what I wanted to listen to.
Q: Rap is also synonymous with rap wars... it sells vinyl, but it also leaves brothers in a pool of their own blood... what are your thought about that?
You mean when two guys have beefs with one another? Well, I do not know. Some guys just don't like other guys, so you are gonna have a situation. I am the only teenage rapper out there, so I have nothing to worry about. But it is not like you have a beef with someone for no reason... there is something behind it... but beef is real, especially in music. It is about who is on top and who wants to be on top.
Q: Do you go to school?
My education is important; I am currently in school now all year round. I want to finish when I am 17...
Q: Got a girl?
Q: Smart man; what's your new album, Unleashed, like?
Totally different, not at all like anything else, best album I have ever done. A bigger, better and more mature Bow Wow, can't wait for it to drop.
Bow Wow is a new prince of hip-hop
The story of Lil' Bow Wow is a truly remarkable tale. Not just another kid rapper, Lil' Bow Wow is the new millennium's prince of hip-hop. This Columbus, Ohio, native is known for rapping 16 consecutive bars of pure rhyme -- sharper and faster than rappers from both the old and new school.
Though he's only 17, Lil' Bow Wow is a veteran in the rap game. At age 6, the young rapper made his first stage appearance on the Chronic Tour, where he impressed rapper Snoop Dogg with talent well beyond his age. Called back to Snoop's dressing room a few hours later, he was dubbed Lil' Bow Wow by Snoop, and hired as the opening act for the tour.
Since then, Lil' Bow Wow has already made guest appearances on Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle," Will Smith's "Wild Wild West," and Jermaine Dupri's "Big Momma's House."
"He reminds me of a young Michael Jackson," says Dupri of his 13-year-old charge. "When Michael was 6 or 7 years old, he was so mature when it came to his work. But when he was off the stage he was 100% a child. Bow Wow is a real little kid but when it's time to work he transforms into a grown person. He's one of those gifted children."
Dupri considers Bow Wow as gifted as Kris Kross, his first teen discovery, so he expects big things to come from Beware of Dog, Lil' Bow Wow's So So Def/Columbia debut disc which features Dupri, Da Brat and more surprise guests. Dupri and Da Brat have penned profanity-free lyrics for Bow Wow because, as Dupri explains, "These days in rap, kids don't have any role models. I knew it was time for him to come out because little girls from 11 to 16 don't have anybody that they can claim as their own. Nobody is putting time into making an artist for them. I want Bow Wow to represent a young black superstar."
It's a throne Bow Wow is willing, ready and able to accept. With his neat cornrows and his platinum and diamond Mickey Mouse pendant (a gift from Dupri) swinging around his neck, he's got the hip-hop superstar look down pat. His upbeat tracks will have people bopping their heads and bouncing from beginning to end. One listen to Beware of Dog and Lil' Bow Wow is sure to let people know there's a new dog in town.