Bow Wow: Grown Man Talk

It’s nearly noon in New York City—Wall Street to be exact. Ironically, the business capital of the world is the perfect locale to conduct an interview with a young man about to turn the entertainment industry upside down after a two-year hiatus. With a new album, movie, tour, and television series all on his plate, […]

It’s nearly noon in New York City—Wall Street to be exact. Ironically, the business capital of the world is the perfect locale to conduct an interview with a young man about to turn the entertainment industry upside down after a two-year hiatus. With a new album, movie, tour, and television series all on his plate, Bow Wow certainly knows the power of a dollar—and the value, as evidenced by the paw-shaped pendant chain draped around his neck.

But even before turning profits, the 18-year-old Ohio rapper had already gained respect from two of Hip-Hop’s most revered figures in Snoop Dogg and Jermaine Dupri, who both played seminal roles in his emergent career. Entering The Guinness Book of World Records at 13 as the youngest solo rapper to hit Number One on the U.S. charts and starring in the top-grossing film Like Mike , Bow Wow has proved to be more than just a little star.

Surrounded by his mom, manager and burly bodyguard, the young rapper conversed with about his fourth LP, Wanted, recalled reading about his rumored relationship with R&B singer Ciara on, and talked business. Last time you came back people were like, “What happened to ‘Lil’ Bow Wow?” because your voice and your flow had changed. Do you think people will recognize any differences in you this time?

Bow Wow: Oh yeah, definitely. Just the content and the things that I’m talking about in this album [are] totally different. People are gonna be like, “Oh my god, did he just say that? Let me rewind it. I know he didn’t just say that.” Now I’m in main competition so I feel like I’m ready to take on the challenge [and] really go ahead and just do what I have to do. Things I need to talk about and discuss on my records, I can do that now. Can you give an example?

Bow Wow: Yeah, I really get to talk about teenage life, and not only that, really rap. Can’t nobody fault me. That’s how I look at it. If so, then it is what it is. I noticed that this is your first album without a dog theme title. Did you do that consciously with this album?

Bow Wow: Nah, what happened was my manager came up with Wanted. I was like, “what does that mean?” [Then] I’m watching 106 and Park and I’m not seeing me on there, and I’m like, “this is boring.” It wasn’t fun watching 106 and Park. It got too grown, it got too boring. I started seeing adults in the crowd. It just got terrible. So I’m watching it and I’m like, “nah this ain’t it. I am wanted.” Is your work relationship with Jermaine Dupri the same now as before or has he stepped back a little?

Bow Wow: Yeah, a little bit. Nothing’s going to be the same. Once you break up something that was extremely good, that was magic, it’s hard to get that same magic back. So now that I’m older and Jermaine’s older, it’s like, where are we now? That’s why before we started the record we really spent a lot of time to really get inside each other’s heads and really see what [the other] was thinking. And it was just tough because [on] my last album I was the executive producer so he was like, “okay I wonder how Bow Wow’s gonna do this.” It was just weird for me, and Jermaine knew. I told Jermaine [to] fall back, I’m gonna put one of my beats on my album. I ended up doing that, and I produced the record. Me and Ronnie, another producer, we did the record and it was crazy. Now I just look at Jermaine like it’s a business. We cool, but this is a business for me. This is, bring the hits and let’s make money, let’s go ahead and do what we do. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Bow Wow: They think I’m mean for some reason. They always think I’m mean. I don’t know why, though. They just make up stuff like I’m in a foul mood and they don’t even know me. I see your mom is here of course. Is she still as involved in your career as she was when you were younger?

Bow Wow: Yeah she is. My mother, she’s like the silent assassin. She has a lot of things going on. She’s doing her stuff. She’s real big on fashion. She’s opening up her own clothing store in Atlanta called Taste. So my mother is starting to venture off and do other things. But she’s still in my career. She’s the person on the phone. You’ll more or less not see her. This is the first time my mother really came in the room [for one of my interviews] in a long time. As far as relationships, there was a rumor that you and Ciara are together. Do you want to clear that up?

Bow Wow: I mean, I’ve been on the website []! Like I told you, I come on the website. They already got us like we dating, so they already know the scoop. I already read the article. Well, I didn’t see it. [Laughs]

Bow Wow: [Laughs] I checked it out. They know what it is. It was crazy ‘cause on the website, they were like, “Uh, we got word from Ciara’s camp that they dangerously in love, they’re madly in love, and they’re so happy.” I read it, I checked it out. It was funny, it was hilarious. But, you know, you just gotta wait and see. Have you been in many relationships since you started your Rap career?

Bow Wow: Actually, nah I haven’t. It’s crazy. Now, my personal life, I like to keep that separate from the outside world. I feel like that ruins relationships. Once everybody knows what’s going on then it can kind of hurt the relationship so I like to just fall back with it and just keep it to myself really. The last girlfriend I had was when I was like 13. But now that I’m older, I understand women, and I know how to treat my lady. I know how to treat my woman. I give her the utmost respect. That’s what I was going to ask you. Not too many young rappers have been able to sustain their careers. What do you think is the reason for that?

Bow Wow: My fans. You gotta think about it. Let’s say, you’re 18 and you’re a rapper. You were out before; you got your fame, sold your three million records. I’m your age; I’m a rapper coming in now. So I’m [trying] to step into your world. So if I sell 500,000 then I’m like, man, but when I go places I get the same response that you get—girls faint and cry over you, girls hitting the vehicles, smacking the windows or whatever. When I go to 106 and Park, even though I sold 500,000 records they’re doing the same thing for me. Besides your new movie [Roll Bounce], you have the “Scream IV” tour and your own TV series coming. Can you talk about those?

Bow Wow: As far as the WB show, we put it on hold for now because I just felt like this album and this tour, I gotta kill ‘em. I gotta kill ‘em. Right now the most important things I’m focusing on are this tour and my album. And with the tour, it’s gon’ be crazy ‘cause it’s me, O [Omarion]—so you got the best of both worlds—then you got Bobby Valentino, then you got Marques Houston, and we bout to have one more person. We’re waiting for him to go ahead and sign the contract. Obviously you’re doing more than rapping with your movies and the television show. Has that always been your goal?

Bow Wow: Oh yeah definitely. I [also] want to have my own magazine dedicated to young Black women. That’s just something special to me. And I want to call it Strength & Wisdom just to give the young Black females something to read weekly, to help them, guide them through life, teenage pregnancies, talk about having problems with a man and how to deal with certain situations, girlfriends. Just really talking to them, talking to girls like “Brenda Got a Baby.” Ninety percent of my fans are young Black females. I would love to cater to them because I know that they’re going through problems. I go through problems, I’m a teenager myself. Everybody in this business probably goes through the same problems.