Bow Wow Admits He’d Rather Bag Groceries Than ‘Sell Out’
At 24 years old, Bow Wow has already invested more than a decade in the music industry, releasing six studio albums — three of which have gone platinum — selling out arenas worldwide and establishing a core fan base for himself. Three years ago, frustrated with the lack of recognition for his musical accomplishments, the Ohio native announced plans to hang up his microphone and retire from music in favor of pursuing acting full-time.
His retirement effort has since been delayed and in the summer of 2009, he inked a deal with Cash Money Records to release his seventh studio album, ‘Underrated,’ a title that he insists was a unanimous fan-favorite. To craft the album, Bow Wow collaborated with his Cash Money team — Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Birdman — in addition to a long-list of artists such as Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, Fabolous and Lil B, who is featured on his recent single, ‘Loaded Like a Full Clip.’
Still, with three movies in the works this year, plus a starring and co-producing role in an upcoming sitcom alongside Ice Cube, Bow Wow stands firm behind the current two-year expiration date on his musical career. On the verge of his Cash Money debut, Shad Moss is still fiercely invested in his evolving film career and can confidently say that his role in Tyler Perry’s latest film, ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family,’ is his best acting performance to date. Read on as he sheds light on his big screen roles, why he feels he’s the next Will Smith and his reason behind wanting to be compared to the likes of Jay-Z and Eminem.
Why does this film qualify as your best performance yet?
I’ve just learned to pay attention to what I do, whether it’s in music or if it’s movies. I’m in a space where I just tap into that zone and it’s feels natural. I don’t even have to act or try, it’s just natural for me and it’s scary when you get to that point being an actor. It’s just little things — looks, reactions — and it’s crazy because when I look at myself I don’t see myself, and I think that that’s when you’re doing a good job. I definitely feel like this is my best role yet.
Do you still plan on quitting music to pursue acting full time?
Quitting music to pursue acting is going to happen for sure, within the next two years. I’ve got my sitcom with Ice Cube coming up — we just closed the deal on that — and there will definitely be more TV and film. I think that’s the route I’ll go in the next two years. People can see my plans already, I think that’s why they ask me all the time, “What are you going to do?”
What’s the premise of the new show with Ice Cube?
There’s no title yet, because we just closed the deal, but Ice Cube is producing as well as myself, and it’s just gonna be dope. I’ve been telling people for years that I’m trying to be the next Will Smith. If people don’t see my plan by now, the blueprint that I’ve laid down, they have to be blind, because all I’m doing is walking in his footsteps but I’m doing it in my own creative way. You’ve got to watch and study from the best and that’s what I’m doing.
You signed a new deal with Cash Money Records last year. How has that affected the recording process on ‘Underrated?’
I love my situation at Cash Money. I love my whole entire team, my family. It’s crazy that I’m doing three movies this year, two tours and trying to create an album — it’s the most hectic s— you could possibly do, and I’m not saying it’s the best thing to do but I’m in grind mode right now. Now isn’t the time to complain, now is the time to just do what I do. On the album, I’ve worked, of course, with Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Birdman and I’ve also worked with Talib Kweli, Chris Brown, Snoop, Fabolous, Lloyd Banks, Tyrese and Boyz II Men. I’ve worked with just about all of the industry. I’m not saying that everyone’s going to end up on the album but these are the guys that I’ve worked with so far, and so far, so good.
Lil B is featured on the new single ‘Loaded Like a Full Clip.’ What was it like working with someone with such a diehard fanbase?
A lot of people don’t understand that he’s not coming out saying that he’s trying to be the best lyricist, he just doing him and obviously its working because he has a fanbase that loves what he does. And I like working with people like that because I want that fanbase just like you want mine and that’s why it works. We open up different doors for each other. A lot of people, they take the song’s title and automatically start thinking about guns, but we ain’t talking about guns, we’re saying it’s the bank account that’s loaded. It just makes sense, two young dudes doing what we love to do — it was a no-brainer. And of course, he respects what I do and he’s always biggin’ me up, I mess with people who genuinely rock with me.
How would you describe your core fans?
Musically, 16 to 28 years old, but when you talk about movies now you’re talking about 7 to 55 years old. My fans saw ‘Roll Bounce,’ but also that older crowd who might not have been familiar with me on the music tip saw ‘Roll Bounce’ and loved it. ‘Roll Bounce’ opened up that door for me to have older people love Bow Wow and opened up that door so all of the kids would love Bow Wow. My fan base is really diverse; it’s all ages and all colors.
Both your album and recent tour are titled ‘Underrated.’ Why’d you settle on that name?
It’s all about branding and putting the word out there early but it wasn’t even a name I came up with, my fans did that. That’s how my fans felt — they felt like I should’ve had a XXL cover before, for example. My fans are saying, “Bow deserved this, he’s filled up Madison Square Garden five times,” these are my fans, not me. So once they feel like that, then I rock with them. If they feel like I’m underrated, I’ll take a look back at it, I’ll look at my body of work and what I’ve done over the years, and see what I deserve, but I ain’t gonna sit around here and complain.
You think you deserve the recognition artists like Jay-Z and Eminem get, but might there be an issue of age and maturity?
Nah, that’s bulls—. LL Cool J started off young too, so age ain’t nothing. I don’t look at it like that. If that was the case then a lot of people would’ve been treated the way I’ve been treated. I don’t think age means anything because if you look at today’s society you’ve got cats going from high school straight to the NBA at 17 years old. You really can’t say it’s based off of age, it’s way bigger than that, it’s just something else and I don’t think I’ll ever know what it is. You look at LeBron James and he went into the NBA at 18 years old, banging with the best of them. I think if you’ve got the skill, you got the skill. If you’re good, you’re good. If you’re hot, you should get recognition like you hot. If you’re a legend you should be treated like a legend. That’s how I look at it.
You almost retired in 2009. What deterred you and would you really have been happy going out like that?
Yeah, I probably would’ve because the simplest, most normal things make me happy. I’ve been saying this forever: I never have a chance to do regular stuff. Last night I went to the movies in Times Square, with no security, nothing, and it felt better than winning any award, felt better than buying any car, or anything. You know what? I’m like Richie Rich, that’s who I am. That’s the best way to describe how I feel. I’ve got everything but I don’t even want that s–t. I just want the simplest things, I want the friends that played in the sandlot across the street. That’s all I want. That’s its. That’s how I am right now, so I would’ve been fine with my decision. But when I said retired, that was just one genre of what I do, I never said I would retire from the game. The game is acting as well, and I will forever be an actor.
It seems that artists often hit a low like Lupe Fiasco did when he mentioned his suicidal point during the battle with Atlantic Records.
I was in London when I read that interview. I remember that I picked up the article, read it and when he said that I thought it was my interview. It sounded like some s–t that I would say, because I’ve gone through it. People see my tweets, so they already think, “Oh, he’s down, he’s suicidal,” but a lot of people don’t understand. This is our life, we put everything on the line for this and at times it just gets frustrating. And it’s a business, which means it’s controlled but nobody likes to feel like they’re being controlled. People die from stress, people die from this s–t, so before I ever let people get the best of me, I’ll bow out, but I’m not gonna sell out. I’d rather go back to bagging groceries before I sell out. Before I change who I am for somebody else’s benefit, I’ll quit. I’ll never not do myself. I’ve gotta be me and that’s how it is.
Watch Bow Wow’s ‘Ain’t Thinkin’ ‘Bout You’