Lil' Bow Wow
‘Barkin’ Up the Right Tree’
Columbus, Ohio native Lil' Bow Wow, born Shad Gregory Moss, first began to perform his raps when he was only six years old. When he threw out his stylings to the audience on the 'Chronic Tour,' one of those most impressed was famous rapper Snoop Dogg, who right away nicknamed the young talent Lil' Bow Wow.
Things moved fast for Lil' Bow Wow, and by the age of 13 he had a long list of impressive credits by his name. He has worked on soundtracks for movies like 'Wild Wild West' and 'Big Momma's House,' providing upbeat tracks like "Bounce with Me." He has been featured in a number of magazines, including Esquire, Vibe, and People. His photo has even been spread on millions of free book covers that Dr. Pepper produced for schools. In 2000 Lil' Bow Wow recorded a debut album, Beware of Dog, for Columbia Records' So So Def label. Under the watchful guidance of executive producer Jermaine Dupri, the young artist is stepping into the role of a rising star and role model without the use of tons of profanity-filled lyrics and while keeping above-average grades in school !
Making his feature film starring debut in the up-coming 'Like Mike' (due out July 3rd), teen hip hop sensation,
Lil' Bow Wow portrays fourteen-year-old orphan Calvin Cambridge, who dreams
of being a famous professional basketball player. But his diminutive
stature and limited ability make this goal a far-off fantasy. Or is it?
When Calvin dons a pair of old sneakers, with the faded initials "M.J."
inscribed inside, he displays amazing hoop skills, and leads a struggling
NBA team to victory. The Director is John Schultz and the featured players include Jonathan Lipnicki, Brenda Strong, and Morris Chestnut.
Taking some time out with the lil' man himself, I first wondered what had appealed to him most about his role in the movie. ”Just the background and the story behind this whole flick. Just like the plot and what this movie brings to the table and what it means. It had a good, positive message with Calvin, the role that I play being an orphan so I’d have to say that that’s the main reason why. It was just like that perfect role for me as well and it’s definitely givin’ me that crossover point as well. So, that’s the main reason why.”
How did you adjust to the role of an orphan having not come from that background ? ”Oh yeah, it was definitely tough. I mean, there were some scenes where I was like I didn’t know if what I was doin’ was cool. Like, the background that I come from I’m used to rappin’ music, hip-hop kid whatever. But here I come and change my whole attitude. It was kinda hard, but I had to adjust to it. There were some things where I was like man, I can’t believe that I’m actually sayin’ this ! And then I’d ask my mom if this was cool to say. There was a lot of their rules when I was shooting the movie, but that’s the whole part of acting. Trying new things and being a new character. You’ve just gotta get on and do it. I had a lot of bad hair days in the movie, but other than that it was cool.”
Did you have to audition for this part ? ”No, not at all. I didn’t have to. I knew at a certain point in my career that it was gonna happen, ‘cause it happens to a lot of artists. Especially hot artists. Movies just fall into the works. It was up in the air at first and my mom just gave me the script and I read over it and the director came flying back and forth from LA to Ohio meeting up with me. I met him maybe twice and then he told me that I had the part. But I knew automatically once they sent me this role that I was gonna get it.”
How was it working with some of you basketball heroes ? ”It was wonderful havin’ the chance to actually play with the players that I looked up to and admired when I was little and actually sit back and watch them on TV and then I’m on the court with these guys. These guys, I had their posters up in my room, so it was kinda crazy, but we had a lot of fun. Hey, I’d definitely like to go back, if this one does good, and do ‘Like Mike 2.’”
Did you play any basketball during the breaks from shooting the movie ? ” Oh yeah, I played Jason Kidd one-on-one and beat him 5-4. By the time I got to three he was playing kinda tough. I was goin’ lay-ups on him all day long.”
How many of the stunt shots that you do in the movie are actually all yours ? ”The trailer that you guys probably seen where I throw the ball from the back board and then catch and dunk it … that was rigged ! But all the other stuff it was normal. I had to dunk off platforms which I had to do a month’s worth of training for that together with jumping wires and things like that. But, that was the only thing though that was fake, was that dunking thing, but everything else was real.”
Did Michael Jordan have any say in you stealing his catchphrase ? ”Yeah, Michael Jordan had the same phrase and he had some say so, but he gave it to us. When he saw me he was like ‘you’re using my name so the movie better be good’ ! That’s exactly what he told me.”
Talk more about the first single from the soundtrack ”Well, the new song ‘Basketball’ is a remake of the Curtis Blow song. Which was a ht song back then. Probably in the ‘80s, I think. Basically, it’s just talkin’ about basketball with this movie being about basketball and it’s just trying’ to connect with the movie.”
What’s the major contrasts between doing the music and the movies ? “I’d have to say the whole music thing kinda takes longer. It’s kinda shorter than what it is to shoot a movie, as with ‘Like Mike’ it took us four months, but with making my new record Doggy Bag only took us like two-and-a-half months maybe. It was definitely like a long process and was definitely a fun experience for me.”
What can you tell us about the new album, Doggy Bag ? ”Doggy Bag, which is the second album for me after Beware of Dog which was $3 million, is $1 million and still selling. ‘Take It Home’ right now is the latest single, produced by The Neptunes and written by my producer, Jermaine Dupri. Hopefully we’ll hit you guys with some more new singles and hopefully some will be coming of the ‘Like Mike’ soundtrack – which will be in stores July 2nd – and we’ll strip those off and put them on the Doggy Bag album.”
You don’t swear in your lyrics, but could that change as you grow ? ”I don’t know. Right now I’m just basically trying to concentrate on my style which is right now. I really don’t have to cuss or say nothing negative for me to rhyme. I mean, it’s got me to the $3 million point so it’s whatever for me, man. I’m just gonna try and keep this original style and keep givin’. So if I’m still rapping by that time of course I’m still gonna rap free. I have to think about other kids and I think that’s what’s really important for me when I came out and there was really no debating at all whether I was gonna use profanity or not. I was thirteen at the time so of course they’re not about to have some thirteen-year old rapper come out and start cussing and everything like that. So, I’d have to say yeah, that I would probably keep it the same because I have to think about the little kids as well. And I’m sure that they would still be looking up to me. So, I have to make it clean.”
I hear that you want to lose the ‘Lil’ from your name ?! ”Well, the whole ‘Lil’ thing comes in place now. I mean, I’m fifteen and like I’ve been sayin’ to every reporter, I’ve a moustache now ! I’m gettin’ older and by the time I’m seventeen I don’t wanna be known as ‘Lil Bow Wow’ no more. And besides, all the fans they call me ‘Bow Wow’ anyway. So, I’m just tryin’ to say let’s go with ‘Bow Wow’ and it’s been working.”
Who you listening to these days ? ”I’ve been listening to a lot of slow music ! I know you’ll probably might laugh at me, but I listen to like a lot of slow-mix tapes. Mellow, midnight, flavor-type slow songs. Aretha Franklin and all that type of stuff.”
When’s the new tour kick-off ? ”I go on tour July 25th with the first show in Memphis. It’s called the ‘Scream 2’ Tour which follows last year’s successful ‘Scream’ Tour. But, right after I get off tour I’m gonna take a break, play some basketball this year and then maybe drop out another album next year.”
Do you have a girlfriend ? ”No. No girlfriend’s at the moment.”
Are you looking ? ”Oh, of course.”
Do you have groupies ? ”Oh, of course !”
Being in his hometown, what are you thoughts on Eminem’s work ? ”He’s just a talented artist, a talented rapper and just has everything that a rapper needs. He just flows non-stop. Like, his stuff is just constant. The way he just raps and flows is just constant and you never hear him break up or stop. He’s just like, in a motion. He just keeps goin’ like into battle. That’s one thing I like about Eminem.”
What do you do to keep in touch with your fans outside of concerts ? ”Sometimes we take the time out to actually go to schools and talk to kids and try and relate to the same things that I relate to. It’s definitely like a bond between me and my fans. They understand what I’ve been going through and I understand what they’re goin’ through.”
Are you too young to have regrets yet ? After a few seconds delay, he turns to his mother who’s unexpectedly sitting right next to me. ”Mom ?,” he asks. His mother, applying fresh make-up at the time, looks up with the expression of a deer in headlights. ”What ?”, she asks her son. ”Am I too young to have regrets yet ?” he repeats to her. ”No,” she quickly replies, the look of confusement still engraved in her expression. ”There it is then,” Lil' Bow Wow nods to me, gently laughing.
Describe yourself in three words ”Outstanding, the wickedest, and the bad.”
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
Check out Lil' Bow Wow's web site at: www.lilbowwow.com
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