Bow Wow Brings the Heat

Rapper returns to Dupri, Snoop on latest album

July 20, 2005 12:00 AM ET

The title of Bow Wow's fourth effort, Wanted, was inspired by people craving a new release from the rapper. "The fans were always asking, 'Where Bow Wow at? When he coming back? When he gonna do another CD?'" says Bow Wow. "I just felt wanted."

And his fans backed up their demands, as Wanted is the Number Three album in the country, selling 119,000 copies in its debut week.

For Wanted, Bow Wow -- who felt 2003's Unleashed lacked the vibe of the producer (and fellow Atlanta resident) who shaped his career -- reunited with Jermaine Dupri. "I wanted to go back to what molded me into who I am now, and that was working with Jermaine," he confesses. "We got our old formula back."

Born Shad Moss, at the age of thirteen the Cleveland native took on the name Lil Bow Wow for his 2000 debut, Beware of Dog. The album took off on the strength of the single "Bow Wow (What's My Name)," featuring Snoop Dogg. By 2003, the rapper, no longer as pint-sized, changed his name to Bow Wow and released the more mature Unleashed. Still a teenager at eighteen, Bow Wow believes that his growth continues on his latest effort. "I've matured," he says. "My lyrical content has changed, the topics of the songs and the things that I'm now able to talk about and discuss are totally different from the past." "Let Me Hold You" and "Like You" are sultrier tracks, while "Big Dreams" tells the story of a sixteen-year-old friend who was fatally shot during a gang dispute.

Part of maturing meant returning to his roots -- as superstar rapper Snoop Dogg's protege. Along with a guest spot by his girlfriend, hot teenage hip-hop diva Ciara, Wanted features the Doggfather himself, on the track "Caviar." "Snoop was really the main target," says Bow Wow. "Once you make records with certain people, you know it just feels right."

Bow Wow just wrapped his fourth feature film for release this fall: Roll Bounce, with Nick Cannon, about Seventies roller-skate jams. And he'll be joining the lineup of this summer's Scream IV tour in America and Europe, featuring Omarion, Marques Houston and Ludacris protege Bobby Valentino.

"I cannot wait," Bow Wow says of the tour. "It's going to be extremely big. I'm so excited to perform for the fans."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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