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 swapping his originally poppy style for a more mature one.
Born in Reynoldsburg (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. Appearances in the films Johnson Family Vacation (2004) and Roll Bounce (2005) kept Bow Wow out of the studio for a couple years. When he returned, he reunited with Dupri and released the Top Ten hit Wanted in July of 2005. The album included a pair of Top Five singles, “Let Me Hold You” and “Like You,” that helped re-establish Bow Wow as a major hitmaker. For a while, he was romantically linked with Ciara, another young urban music star.
- Bio of Bow Wow courtesy Jason Birchmeier, All Music Guide
News, Notes and Reviews
News: Dec. 5, 2006 – Rapper/Producer Bow Wow’s hot single, “Shortie Like Mine” is enjoying it’s third straight week of chart-topping success as it continues to hold steady at #1 on the Billboard Monitor Rap Chart.
“Shortie Like Mine” is the first single from the multi-platinum rapper’s “The Price of Fame” album, which is scheduled to hit stores on December 19th.
In addition to his successful music career, Bow Wow has made a name for himself in the TV and Film arena, appearing in such films as “Like Mike” (2002), “All About The Benjamins” (2003), “Johnson Family Vacation” (2004) , “Roll Bounce” (2005), and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006).
Bow Wow is also credited with being the youngest musician to open the Grammy Awards, and holds a place in The Guinness Book of World Records for the youngest solo rapper to hit #1 on the U.S. charts.
“The Price of Fame” is his fifth studio album. And according to his record label, the song has received almost 5 million hits from the rappers MySpace page.