I wanna be a muthaf**kin' hustla!" Those were the opening words on Snoops classic, Doggystyle and they were voiced by a then eight-year-old Lil Bow Wow. Strange hearing those curse words from a youngsters mouth, but 14 years later, Bow Wow is now old enough to talk any way he wishes.
Dreams of being a hustler have come true for Mr. 106 & Park who not only has the ladies going wild, but has opened his own shoe chain, Prestigious with two stores in Atlanta and is in the process of owning a McDonalds franchise at 20 years old. Throw in his Homeboyz series, set to debut in January on MTV and the network might have a Black version of Entourage in a cartoon form. The braids are gone, the material has grown, and hes gone through his first year of being in the tabloids. The Price of Fame is a true album title for Bow Wow, as the boy-turned grown man sees the scrutiny of growing up in the Hip-Hop eye. However, Bow Wow is still here, and hes got something that grandmothers and Young Jeezy all respect.
AllHipHop.com: So tell me about the Ozone interview that had you dissing everyone from Ciara, JD, and Jay-Z
Bow Wow: I found it quite entertaining. The idea that someone took the time to write out all those false statements is pathetic. But, they really couldnt have picked a better time, being that my album is dropping. It just made people want to talk to me even more. I released a statement a week after that clarifying that it wasnt me, and I would never disrespect JD whose like a father to me, Hov whos one of my favorite rappers, nor would I disrespect a female.
AllHipHop.com: I guess thats why you called your album the Price of Fame?
Bow Wow: [Laughing] Yes sir!
AllHipHop.com: Now, tell me about your childhood. How was it growing up in Columbus, Ohio?
Bow Wow: It was popping. I went to Columbus public schools. I wasnt sheltered or anything of the sort. My mom worked three jobs, and my father was never really around. Unfortunately, it was the scenario a lot of us experience. A single mom playing the father role as well and it was hard on her, but I got the chance to see my mom grow into a strong Black woman, and I love her to death for being there for me.
AllHipHop.com: What were the benefits and disadvantages of being without your father growing up?
Bow Wow: The disadvantage was not having him to speak to about issues you wouldnt normally converse about with your mother. Whether its about girls, sports, or shaving. The normal stuff that a father is supposed to teach a son and those were the areas that had a major effect on me. Positives by watching him and his mistakes, I will make sure not to end up like him and duplicate his actions.
AllHipHop.com: Now when you started your career, it was with Death Row Records right?
Bow Wow: No, I was never signed to Death Row. I just chilled around Snoop most of the time as he took me around with him.
AllHipHop.com: What did you learn from Snoop?
Bow Wow: I mean, I was young, but looking back, I learned how to be a consummate professional and work hard at my craft.
AllHipHop.com: So what was your rap career like in the 90s? Was there even one?
Bow Wow: I know everyone probably heard the story before on how I was discovered by Snoop in Columbus. But, I was never officially signed though. I was definitely affiliated with him and was his protégé. I finished The Chronic Tour with Dre and Snoop and that was that.
AllHipHop.com: What are the best things that power has brought you and the worse?
Bow Wow: Best things probably being able to have a nice house and have people love what I do, and respect my music. I love performing in front of thousands of people and giving my fans what they want, but on the flipside, its brought me a whole lot of stress. Ive gone through depression and its taken a huge toll on me throughout the past year - a lot of bulls**t and drama.
AllHipHop.com: Has the last year been the most stressful in terms of your career?
Bow Wow: Not in terms of my career, but its definitely been a life learning experience. Its been a real entertaining ride, but Ive been able to grow and become wiser at the same time. Im only 20 years old so Im still growing, man. All the negatives have been turned into positives.
AllHipHop.com: I figure one of those stressful spots was the whole Ciara situation. Do you discuss this on the LP?
Bow Wow: Theres definitely a song on the LP that youll know right away upon listening.
AllHipHop.com: Youve always hit gold with the majority of your albums. Are you concerned about your sales considering the lackluster CD numbers in the Hip Hop market?
Bow Wow: Not at all, man. This year was like last year. When I came out with Wanted, I did 125,000 first week. One thing about me is that I usually dont have huge opening weeks. My sales grow with time considering the strength of my singles. I never really worried about it too much. As long as the numbers stay consistent and it goes platinum, I could care less, to be honest. Youve seen it yourself, a whole bunch of people opening big and in week two dropping sharply. It doesnt worry me.
AllHipHop.com: So you look at yourself as an artist who brings an arsenal of hits instead of just one?
Bow Wow: Of course, when I come out I drop three to four singles. Most artists only release two. Its crazy because a lot of MCs nowadays arent touring. I believe touring helps me a lot because I get to attract new fans. Every summer you see me doing the major arenas and performing my list of hits.
AllHipHop.com: I wont say youre a Jackie Robinson type because that name bears a lot of weight, but do you see yourself as someone who opened the doors for kid rappers?
Bow Wow: Thats a tricky question. It went like this: Kris Kross and then me. Once Kris Kross died down, there was a gap and then I came along and I filled the void. After me came everyone else. You can say I re-opened the door.
AllHipHop.com: Did it make you feel good that you played an N*Sync type role in Hip-Hop in that you were someone for young Black girls to fawn over?
Bow Wow: Yes, because no one was catering to that audience. Thats why when I came out I hit it so big. Girls crying and fainting. It definitely feels good to have every girl in the hood and some suburbs to rock with me.
AllHipHop.com: How was it moving to Atlanta from Ohio? Was it a big difference?
Bow Wow: Definitely. The Midwest is way different from the South, from the nightlife, to the people. The first time I stepped foot in Atlanta I knew I wanted to move down there. My mom was always against it, but I knew I had to because thats where business was. Every other day I had to fly to ATL. The studio and Jermaine were down there so it made no sense to stay in Columbus. Its funny cause a lot of people say I dont show my hometown love, but Im always in Columbus. People might not see me, but Im always there.
AllHipHop.com: Now a lot of people hold the view of you as arrogant. How do you feel about that?
Bow Wow: I find it kind of funny. Maybe from the outside looking in, people are going to think that. Im not trying to sound cocky right now, but the girls like me and think Im fine and people think its gone to my head. Im far from cocky. Bow Wow is a cool, down to earth dude. Arrogance is a swagger, so I definitely got swagger. Being cocky? I might joke around here and there but as far as being an asshole, thats one thing Im not.
AllHipHop.com: I heard you started your own record label BW Entertainment. Will you continue rapping and building artists or focusing on your acts?
Bow Wow: It was a blessing that Sony gave me the shot at a label. I already got my first artist and I think I get a lot of respect because I stay in my lane. Ive come up with a way to keep locking down the teen market. This 13 year-old named Young Jitsu is the first act, and he writes his own stuff. Its crazy cause I saw Jeezy yesterday and he gave me mad props for being a businessman and locking down my market.
AllHipHop.com: Its crazy you say that because a lot of people think as you target the teen market, acts like Jeezy or others wouldnt really respect you?
Bow Wow: People fail to [recognize] that these people have kids. Snoop and a whole bunch of other rappers are backstage at the Scream Tour with their kids. I get respect from these MCs because Im capitalizing on what I know how to do.
AllHipHop.com: As you get older, are you bringing those teen fans with you or are you trying to bring in new fans?
Bow Wow: My fans will always be there and a lot of my recent records have been very mature. Mothers and grandmothers like my stuff. Let Me Hold You, Like You, and even Shorty Like Mine have reached whole new audiences. Im not out there reaching; I could only be me and do me.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the CD? I read somewhere its almost like a diary. Did you keep one of those when you were younger?
Bow Wow: [Laughing] Definitely not, man. I always looked at it as a girl thing not a male thing. Price of Fame deals with everything Ive been through in the last two years. Its much edgier than most of my records, and you will get to peek into my life much more on this CD and learn about Bow Wow the man.