'Lil Bow Wow: Playin' Hardball
Popular young 14-year-old rap artist 'Lil Bow Wow, whose birth name is Shad Moss, made his recording debut at six guest-starring on Snoop Doggy Dogg's 1993 album. It was "Dogg" who named Shad 'Lil Bow Wow and got him a record deal. He was assigned to Jermaine Dupri's SoSo Def label, was on the Wild Wild West soundtrack with Will Smith and his hit single Bounce with Me was included on the Big Momma's House soundtrack. Now Bow Wow and Jermaine team up on the soundtrack for the new Keanu Reeves film Hardball. In L.A. we spoke with both rappers about their work for the film, exciting new projects and Bow Wow's efforts to stay a "regular" kid and produce a line of clothing that "everybody" can afford.
We noted a fun dad/son sort of relationship between the two buddies dressed in customized baseball gear in tribute to the film. There was some friendly scuffling over a Nike sport gift bag given out by the studio; Bow Wow didn't get one and was wrestling Jermaine for his.
Teenhollywood.com: Hey, don't worry Bow Wow. You'll get a bag.
Jermaine: Hey, this is my bag. Watch out!
'Lil Bow Wow: I'll just steal his.
Teenhollywood.com: Jermaine, how did you and Bow Wow get involved in the film?
Jermaine: The director Brian Robbins called me and said Jermaine, I want your involvement. Your label (SoSo Def) should be involved with the entire soundtrack. I came to L.A., saw the movie, fell in love with it. He already had some of my other records and Bow Wow's first record put in (temporarily). We got the entire soundtrack. When I first saw the movie, I said Bow Wow should have been in this movie. All the kids from the movie can relate to him so he should have the title track.
Bow Wow: When I walked into the studio I just listened to the song, the words and it sounded real good. The lyrics were clear and the next thing I know, I turned around and we're number one on BET so a couple of weeks later we flew to L.A. and we just did the video for it and it was number one. So, it turned out very good. Very positive.
Teenhollywood.com: Bow Wow, we understand you'll be doing some acting?
Bow Wow: Yeah, I have a big movie coming out (now called Like Mike) but they don't want me to talk about it right now. I've done acting in the past, Steve Harvey Show, Moesha, Brandy. I've done Brother Garcia for Nickelodeon, did MTV. I'm trying to move on to bigger things.
Teenhollywood.com: Do you think you'd like acting better than music?
Bow Wow: I like them both. I'm good at acting but I'm better at rapping. I wouldn't want to go off and act and do four movies and have the public not see me on stage. I'd like to do like two movies and then hop right back or while I'm doing the movie, keep working on my music.
Teenhollywood.com: Did you meet any of the kids who act in Hardball?
Bow Wow: When we did the Hardball video; me and 'Lil Wayne, 'Lil' Zane were there. (The movie kids) stayed at the same hotel I was at so, of course we caused a ruckus. I invited them up to my room and there was like ten of us in my hotel room and we were just actin' crazy. It was fun for me because I'm not really around a lot of kids except for when I go home and I'm around like 20 of my friends 'cuz I haven't seen 'um in a while.
My thing is, when I'm not working, I try my best to have fun and go back. I don't want people saying "Don't forget where you came from" or "You got the big head." I try my best to have fun with it 'cuz I'm still a kid but I do like to rap with a lot of kids my age.
Teenhollywood.com: You're really bigtime now. How do you deal with that every day?
Bow Wow: Sometimes it's hard if I go places. Like just the other day I was over at a friend's house and we walked up to the corner store and people were like "What you doin' over here on this side of town?" or "Why you shoppin' here?" I'm like "I'm no different than you." When I'm home I'll go to the dollar store and I'm regular. I just want to go out, go shop, be myself but it's hard because somebody will say "Oh, I want you to talk on the phone with my daughter." I have to balance it.
Teenhollywood.com: Jermaine, how was working with Brian Robbins?
Jermaine: I had met him a couple of times before we got a chance to do this movie. This is the second soundtrack that we did. I did Big Mama's House. Bow Wow's first single came from that movie so it launched him. Brian was really about the music. This is the first movie in a long time where the entire soundtrack (we recorded) is in the movie. Ten or eleven songs. We were all on the phone. He was telling the studio what he wanted. He wanted the music to really be a part of the movie.
Teenhollywood.com: Jermaine it must be hard being an artist and producer and record label head.
Jermaine: You've just got to put one hat on, take one hat off and go to war with that hat. It's a back and forth thing and it's kinda crazy. Last week I was a producer with no control. In this I have control. On my project I'm the artist. It's fun and as long as it's fun I don't have a problem with it. When it's starts getting' like "Aw, man. What am I doin'?" then I'm out.
Teenhollywood.com: You were involved with an exciting project recently.
Jermaine: I did the Artists Against AIDS in Africa project and Bono (of U2) called me and said "I want you to be the producer of this project I'm putting together." I can't turn that down. This isn't We Are the World. Not the traditional artists like Ray Charles. This record has all the hot right now artists. The world has never seen this. It's probably the first record that 'N-Sync and Backstreet Boys are both on together.
Teenhollywood.com: Jermaine, do you feel that this film is about a white guy coming in to save kids in the hood?
Jermaine: No. This shows what's actually happening in the world right now and that's the meshing of two different cultures. It shows how the suburban world is coming into the urban world. They're coming together as one. Keanu gets hip to these boys and they teach him about winning. I think the movie is real.
Teenhollywood.com: What's coming out in the next few months for you guys?
Bow Wow: My album Doggie Bag is gonna be coming out real soon. We're still keeping it clean but now that I'm getting older we're gonna turn it up a notch. It won't be extreme but I'm going to turn it up a bit. Hot new stuff. I have a clothing line that's gonna be coming out with Jermaine. We're gonna have everything. A lot of kids aren't fortunate enough to go to Neiman Marcus or Macy's or J.C. Penneys to buy clothes. We're gonna sell my clothes at Walmart or K-Mart so parents can afford it. Single parents don't have like $80 bucks to spend on a pair of jeans. You can buy Bow Wow Wear and everybody can afford it.
Jermaine: The AIDS record is coming out December the 1st. My album is out October the 2nd. Bow Wow's album is coming out the week before Thanksgiving or soon after. Then we're doing a So So Def tour with Jagged Edge (Where da Party At?) We hope to leave the first of November.
Bow Wow: And you've gotta finish my album.
Teenhollywood.com: Bow Wow, what do you do in your free time?
Bow Wow: I've got a condo in Atlanta but if I'm out here, I see J.D. here almost every day and I annoy him.
Jermaine: (laughing). That's for sure.
Bow Wow: Like today I woke up about six and messed with Jermaine. If I'm at home I'll go over to my friend's house or invite like 30 people over to the house and hang out. Let everybody know I'm in town and go shoppin', (to the) skating rink and stuff like that.
Interviewer and writer Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.