Bow Wow: Cash Money, Baby! Part 1

AllHipHop Staff

Shad Gregory Moss stares at a crossroads in his career and has opted to make the tough decisions. It is quite possible that the rapper, once known as Lil Bow Wow may have outgrown his fan base. He’s a bit too seasoned for the children and he may be too young for the adults. This is evidenced by the sales of his latest album New Jack City II. The album was supposed to be a return to form with Moss, linking back with his mentor Jermaine Dupri. The album instead produced no real radio singles and bricked, selling only 67,000 copies.

Now those types of record sales are not so terrible for the struggling music industry today, but for an artist of Bow Wow’s caliber, whose previous five records sold over 10 million combined, it was looked at as the beginning of the end. Bow Wow is now 22 years old and has ended his childhood. He has recently ended his relationship with Columbia records. For awhile there where even rumors that Bow Wow was ending his rap career. Then in August, he signed with Cash Money, home of Hip-Hop heavyweights like Lil Wayne and Drake. Bow Wow chatted with about his recent signing with Cash Money Records, and his hopes for his career. In Part 2, he discusses his relationships and life with (or without) Chris Brown, Omarion, Ciara and other notables. You’re a young artist that is now signing with Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. How did that come about?

Bow Wow: Well to clear things up, because a lot of people have gotten it confused, I actually signed with Cash Money. I’m not on Young Money but everyone knows the Cash Money/Young Money bond is all family. Wayne is on Cash Money but his label is Young Money. We are all affiliated but contractually I am signed to Cash Money. Well how did the signing to Cash Money come about? That seems like a sudden change since you have always been associated with Jermaine Dupri and So So Def.

Bow Wow: The first record I ever did with Wayne was a feature for the Hardball soundtrack with Keanu Reeves [“Hardball” featuring Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Zane and Sammie] and Baby was in that video. That was when my relationship with Cash Money began. Two years later I had Baby on my first single [“Let’s Get Down” Bow Wow featuring Baby] and from then on it was like we where distant family. I have always lived in Atlanta and Miami so if I was in Atlanta I was with Jermaine and everyone from So So Def. If I was in Miami I was with Baby, Wayne, and everyone from the Cash Money camp. Before this signing came up you were alluding to the fact that you may retire. Were you tired of rapping?

Bow Wow: Tripping. I was stressed. I’m not the only one that has thought about retiring. You got people like Bret Farve who is back out there. I just got to an emotional breaking point in my career because I was so fed up with Sony. I was tired of the bulls**t. I was tired of having to overwork my projects. I was doing things that I really shouldn’t have been doing. Basically I was doing other people’s jobs. That whole situation is what was fueling everything.

“Right now, it’s about me getting back to the essence of Hip Hop. It’s time for me to do the things I always wanted to do. More lyrical. More Hip Hop. I’m still doing s**t for the ladies but I’m focused more on delivery.”

-Bow Wow You’re an artist that is very well connected with your fan base. You use Ustream, Twitter, Youtube, your website, and a number of other ways to stay connected with you fans. Why sign with a label as opposed to dropping albums on your own?

Bow Wow: That was actually my thought process but I don’t know how to run nobody’s label. People come up to me and ask me if I’m signing anyone all the time. When somebody tells me that it shows that they are passionate about what they are doing. This is their dream. I’m sure there are people that are in the comments section of this interview that are aspiring rappers. I cannot run a label and don’t know how to so I’m not going to sign them. I’m not going to f**k up nobody’s dream. During the interview rounds for the last album you and Dupri spoke about coming back together after having a rift in your relationship. How is your relationship now with Dupri?

Bow Wow: Awesome. Awesome. It’s better than ever. Now that I’m a man I understand….and Jermaine knows that. This dude raised me so right now he’s just happy for me. He got me to this point and Jermaine knows that I’m a little version of him in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to the business. I joke with him all the time that he has taught me so much that I think I know more than him. At this point…if this was the NBA and Jermaine was coaching a team but I played for another he’d still be at my games cheering me on. Our relationship has grown stronger.

AllHipHop: So it was just growing pains?

Bow Wow: Exactly. I tell people its life. We are just in the limelight so all of our business is out in the public.

Bow Wow talks about being friends with Lil Wayne. "Wayne is like my brother...we're like best friends." So you and Jermaine get back together on the last album, New Jack City II. The chemistry is there but the album doesn’t sell at all. What do you attribute that too?

Bow Wow: Sony. Straight up. Sony. I felt like that project was rushed. I knew it was rushed. It doesn’t matter if it is my album or anyone else’s album – good music is good music. I mean even if an R&B album doesn’t perform there may be a bunch of girls singing it out there in the streets because good music can’t be denied. I felt that I came with good music but at the same time I don’t think that Columbia knew what to do with it. I don’t know if Columbia knew what to do with a Bow Wow. We had so many changes in that Columbia system. Nas left. Flip left. I was the only rapper on Columbia. I sat and did my research and when [Tommy] Mottola was over there and So So Def was at its height it was a different system. I really don’t like to use the word blame but I have got to put a lot of it on Columbia. I did my part. I did what I had to do. They just did not get the business side right. Now that you are moving over to Cash Money are your fans going to see a musical change in terms of what you rap about?

Bow Wow: This music is totally different. I said earlier I grew up Snoop and Dre in ’93. I was around that at a young age. Before I was Lil’ Bow Wow my rap name was Kid Gangsta. All I listened to was gangsta music and that’s all I was around. At six when I was around Dr. Dre and Snoop…they had me rapping about some crazy s**t. Stuff you couldn’t even imagine. When I first rapped for Jermaine it was some hard s**t and he was like “Awww man. No. This ain’t never going to work.” When I first rapped for Jermaine I was doing something I did for one of Snoop’s old records. Even if you look back at the clip of me on the Arsenio Hall show I was talking about crazy s**t. I said “n***a” on live TV. I was wilding at five because of what I was around.

When I got with Jermaine he laid down a new foundation for the business and marketing sake of my career. Right now, it’s about me getting back to the essence of Hip Hop. It’s time for me to do the things I always wanted to do. That’s why I dropped the Greenlight Mixtape which did 500,000 downloads in a day and a half and is now up to a million in a week. I have a song called “Regret” that I’m going to shoot a video for and that’s the direction that I’m going in. More lyrical. More Hip Hop. I’m still doing s**t for the ladies but I’m focused more on delivery. I’m trying to give people the real me because now there ain’t no holding back. There’s nobody telling me “Yo Bow, I don’t think you should say that.” I’m like, f**k it; I’m going in on every track that I get. Especially now that I’m at Cash Money with a Wayne, a Drake, and a Stunna. Working with other great MC’s is only going to bring the best out of me and, at the end of the day, we all want to see the best out of each other. So what’s going to be the name of the album?

Bow Wow: I don’t really want to say the title. I’m still trying to decide but it has to have something to do with my real name. I want this album to be a masterpiece and I want people to see the real me. I’m tired of holding back. This is me and not the nonsense that people have been seeing about me. That’s why I made the “Regret” record because it shows the real me. It talks about me f**king up with my ex-girlfriend. It talks about me sippin’ syrup, smoking weed, and being bugged out at BET. It talks about me opening up and showing people all of the negative s**t I have done and showing I’m no different from any other 22 year old. If you were 22 you would probably be doing the same s**t. I’m Bow Wow and I’m not perfect. That’s what this album is about and I want my fans to see that.

“’Regret’ talks about me f**king up with my ex-girlfriend. It talks about me sippin’ syrup, smoking weed, and being bugged out at BET. If you were 22 you would probably be doing the same s**t. I’m Bow Wow and I’m not perfect.”-Bow Wow Well this is on and the fans that comment don’t hold back. After we posted news of you signing to Cash Money the immediate response was “Why?” followed by “He’s never going come out because Cash Money doesn’t put out any artist but Wayne and Baby.” What’s your response?

Bow Wow: It’s all nonsense. I always tell people if you wanted to hate on me then you should have hated when I first came out. I’ve already crossed over that hump. I’ve crossed over too many humps. I’m too blessed to be thinking about anything negative. I never really fed off of negative s**t like that. For me I just keep it pushing because it doesn’t matter. The same niggas that ain’t f**king with me are the same niggas that are downloading the mixtape. You don’t get a million downloads in three days for no reason. I must be doing something right. If they’re not talking about you then you got something to worry about. I’ve already made it. I’m 22. I have movies, records, singles, etc. If I wasn’t me, I’d be on the blog sites hating too. Now what is your response to people, and I’m not talking about people with negative energy but fans, who liked the way your career has gone so far? What is your response to fans that don’t want to see the big change?

Bow Wow: I’m not going to lie. I’ve done some stupid s**t. That’s life. I’m no different than any other young man in life but my life just happens to be out in the public eye. Now it’s about shedding all the bulls**t. It’s time for me to grow up. It’s time to take my job serious. It’s time to take it to another level. This is the first time I’ve switched labels in my career. I’ve been on Columbia for 15 years. Going with Cash Money is like a breath of fresh air.