A pint-sized novelty act who made preteen girls swoon with his 2000 debut Beware of Dog, Bow Wow has somehow evolved into a hip-pop elder statesman. Now 20, he has split with longtime producer Jermaine Dupri, and his sixth CD, Face Off, a collaboration with B2K's Omarion, was released Tuesday. The Columbus, Ohio, native, whose real name is Shad Gregory Moss, recently spoke to the Houston Press by phone from his home in a suburban Atlanta gated community.
Houston Press: On Face Off, you do the rapping and Omarion does the singing. Kind of like the Jay-Z and R. Kelly collaboration, no?
Bow Wow: It's sort of similar, but it's not. There's a lot of things that are different. I have a lot of pressure on me with this album. I'm stepping away from Jermaine, and just trying to prove to myself and to other people that I can do it.
Bow Wow performs Friday, December 14, at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 713-758-7200. Chris Brown, Shop Boys, Lil' Mama and Soulja Boy are also on the bill.
HP: Are you sick of people making fun of the album cover, which has your faces split in two?
BW: That's why we did it, to entertain people! I wanted people to talk about it. If they not talking, it's a problem. It was on every blog and Web site, so I'm like, "Right there, we won."
HP: As a rap veteran of sorts, what advice would you give to your tour mate Soulja Boy?
BW: Number one, don't listen to what nobody got to say, because right now Soulja Boy's been catching flak. [Some artists] feel like anybody can go into the studio and say "you" a hundred times and have a hit record. But one thing that you can't take away from him is his stats. Right now he's got the biggest record out, period. If you asked a lot of rappers to make records like Soulja Boy, they couldn't do it.
HP: What do you think about the video circulating of him peeing off a hotel balcony?
BW: [Laughs] People don't realize that he's only 17. He's just a kid. I'm not saying that's the right thing to do, to pee off a hotel balcony. But people need to realize that Soulja Boy is Soulja Boy. He's a wild 17-year-old. I would tell him, "Don't do that no more, because it's nasty!" That's very disgusting. I actually saw the clip. It's crazy. But that's what makes Soulja Boy Soulja Boy.
HP: Why did you break off from Jermaine Dupri?
BW: The main reason was to discover who I am. My whole career I've wanted to write my records. I want to be more involved with the direction my music goes, and I can't do that when I have a coach that I'm playing for, and he draws up the plays. I've learned everything I can from Jermaine, and now I'm ready to move on. I'm so smart that, when my fans hear the music — especially my next album, which I might do myself — they're really not going to be able to tell whether Jermaine was part of the project or not.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.