Bow Wow Interview
|Label:||Cash Money/Universal Republic|
|Next Project:||New Jack City Part 2|
|Twitter:||Bow Wow on Twitter|
|Website:||Bow Wow's Website|
Friendship, though it plays a major role in every individual’s life, is perhaps the single most overlooked topic in popular music. This is somewhat understandable; the high-profile, business-driven nature of the industry can make it difficult to separate the truly trustworthy from those simply looking to make a quick buck. In any case, 21-year-old emcee Bow Wow is one big-name artist who knows the value of a good friend and colleague.
Inspired by his reunion with Jermaine Dupri, his hitmaking partner and musical mentor of more than a decade, Bow’s titled his forthcoming sixth studio album New Jack City Part 2, referencing the tumultuous friendship of Nino Bless and Gee Money in the 1991 crime thriller. In addition to dual lead single selections “You Can Get It All” and “Roc Da Mic” (both featuring J.D.), the album will include previously-featured cuts “Marco Polo,” “Big Girls,” and, “Pole in My Basement,” and is scheduled to arrive in stores on March 31st.
In an exclusive interview with our very own DJ “Z,” Bow Wow steps inside the Booth to discuss the ways in which fame can put a strain on personal relationships, how he deals with the haters, and whether his success with the mother/daughter demographic has led to any off-the-mic action.
Listen to the Interview
Bow Wow Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth for the second time is a multi-platinum recording artist who, at 21, has already released five solo albums and is considered an industry veteran. Please welcome the man behind New Jack City: Pt. II, Bow Wow – how you doin’?
Bow Wow: That shall be me – I’m good.
DJ Booth: Thank you for joinin’ me, my friend.
Bow Wow: Thanks for havin’ me.
DJ Booth: Anytime. Last we spoke, you and O were busy promoting your joint album, Face Off. This time around, you are embarking upon the release of your sixth studio album. The title, New Jack City: Pt. II, which I mentioned off the top, from what I understand it’s inspired by your reunion with mentor and long-time music partner, J.D. – please elaborate for me.
Bow Wow: Yeah, how we came up with the whole title of the album is just watching Allen Payne and Wesley Snipes’ friendship in the movie; it was very similar to how me and Jermaine were. The Carter in the movie was their administration and how they made money – our Carter was So So Def, that’s how we made money. And how they stopped being friends was due to the fact of the business. They just got caught up – you know, girls, they were sleepin’ with the same girl, and just different things like that, that when money comes into play and when business comes into play, it eliminates all of the fun, and it gets really serious. To make a long story short, that’s basically what kinda happened with me and Jermaine. Of course, everybody knows we fell out due to the business, and due to differences and things like that, and it just wasn’t fun anymore.
DJ Booth: You stated that the business came between you, which is what allowed your personal friendship to be affected. For people who hear that and think to themselves, “Man, I would never allow business to get in the way of friendship,” explain how hard it is to manage a personal relationship with someone who you’ve also gotta do business with.
Bow Wow: I mean, it is difficult, because you feel like you can say anything to that person, but being that you’re a celebrity, you do have an ego – every celebrity has an ego. So it’s like, even though y’all have been cool for so long, there’s still that dynamite waitin’ to blow, where if you do say something wrong you could trigger it off, no matter how comfortable you are with that person. The business itself is so stressful, so if you’re havin’ a bad day you can easily take it out on somebody, and then you takin’ it out on somebody can easily turn into a blowup. Words are being exchanged and different things – like, I’m not sayin’ that that’s what happened with me and Jermaine, but I’m just sayin’ that this is how business can mess up any friendship. It’s weird, because you might really get to know a person by doin’ business with them, then you probably decide you don’t even wanna be around them, and that can really launch it off, too. There’s so many ways, man – it’s easy to get the business involved in the friendship, trust me.
DJ Booth: So you guys have completely forgotten about what’s happened and you’re on the right foot forward in ‘09?
Bow Wow: Yeah, I have amnesia; I don’t even know what happened.
DJ Booth: Okay, well, we won’t go there.
Bow Wow: [laughs]
DJ Booth: I read that production credits on the new album include Swizz Beatz, Nitti, Ron Browz, T.I. – what does J.D. do differently from these men which continues for the two of you to make hit records?
Bow Wow: I think the thing is, he knows me. We’re talkin’ about a guy who practically raised me since I was 10 years old, as opposed to someone like T.I. who’s somebody that I met later on in life, and I might only have, like, two studio sessions with him.
DJ Booth: The chemistry just isn’t there…
Bow Wow: No, the chemistry’s there, but the amount of time and knowledge of knowing that person is not there, you know what I’m sayin’? So it’s kinda like, when I step in the studio with Wayne – well, not Wayne, ‘cause we’re close – but if I stepped into the studio with let’s say Swizz Beatz, who did production on my album; it’s different, ‘cause Swizz, he’s only produced for me at this moment, whereas [Jermaine] met me at 10 years old and has seen me grow till I was 22 years old, and he knows me personally to the point where it’s so easy for him to give me a record. Producers now, they give me records to try to give me the records that Jermaine makes for me, and they don’t work ‘cause it’s not that brand.
DJ Booth: Considering the explanation that you just gave me, do you ever find yourself overly disappointed with the quality of production that you get from anybody but Jermaine, because you know what you can achieve with him?
Bow Wow: Never until I actually play the production for Jermaine. When the production’s not done by Jermaine, he’s a harder critic.
DJ Booth: So you play it for him and he’s like, “What is this sh*t?!”
Bow Wow: Not, “What is this sh*t?!” but it’s almost like this: Jermaine feels like he made me, which he did, credit all due to him for that. So he feels like anything, if it’s not him, it’s being tampered with. If I bought you a Bentley, you don’t want to just pass your Bentley around and let everybody drive it, ‘cause it’s a luxurious car, it’s your car, you bought that car with your hard-earned money – you don’t want everybody hoppin’ in it. That’s basically what it is: it’s like, “I made this. Can’t nobody make records for Bow Wow like I can.” And it shows on the charts. Only one other producer has done that, and that’s when I did, “Imma Flirt.” That’s my only number one record without Jermaine; other than that, all my big hit records are by Jermaine.
DJ Booth: Well, speaking of joint records, you’ve got one with him: “Roc Da Mic.” Your musical partnership has led to, and he said this in the record, “killin’ all the daughters and their mamas along with ‘em.” Since we know that you’ve been able to successfully tackle the mother/daughter demo, Bow, please reveal if you’ve been able to successfully tackle the mother/daughter combo, if you catch my drift.
Bow Wow: I haven’t, but it’s funny, because somebody, one of my homeboys, they have, when we were on tour. I ain’t gonna say no names, but my homeboy, he actually had a mama and daughter moment.
DJ Booth: Is it on your to-do list?
Bow Wow: Nah, not really. I couldn’t be with ‘em at the same time – they’d have to be separate.
DJ Booth: So let’s say that they’re both of age, ‘cause that’s critical, obviously, and it’s separate – is that like, “Let’s check it off?”
Bow Wow: If they’re separate, I can do it, but together, no – that’s terrible.
DJ Booth: But it would produce a hell of a story.
Bow Wow: Man, it would. I’m sure it would entertain everybody.
DJ Booth: There’s another song on the album, it’s entitled, “Like That,” which you describe as a “sensitive record.” Bow, as an artist whose catalog includes mostly pre and post-pubescent love songs, has it been hard to really open up about your feelings on a record?
Bow Wow: Nah, not really, ‘cause honestly, when it comes down to it, everything I do, I do it because it’s me. At the end of the day, I only know how to be me. Everything is gonna be authentic, so I think, when it comes down to sayin’ certain stuff in lyrics, or whatever the case may be, it’s just me bein’ me and me bein’ honest.
DJ Booth: So, this is a long way from that puppy love of the past?
Bow Wow: Exactly. And, on top of that, it’s like I said: at the end of the day, I only know how to be me, so I’m only gonna share real life experiences. That record right there is definitely something that I’m sure a lot of guys actually go through, where if you have been in a relationship before, you really don’t want to get yourself caught up in it, but maybe she’s just so good at what she does, or her as a person, she just hooks you in, you basically have no choice. That’s why I’m like, “I’ve never really felt like this before, but it’s something about you, but I really don’t wanna be in that situation, but it’s so good I gotta do it.”
DJ Booth: On another record on the album, “Anything I Can Do,” you talk smack about yourself. Out of all the smack you’ve heard people talk about you, what has been the most laughable diss?
Bow Wow: I don’t really see it as a beef or anything like that – that’s something I don’t really do – but the reason why I did that song was because I get criticized so much. On everything I do I get criticized.
DJ Booth: Why do you think that is?
Bow Wow: ‘Cause I came up in the game young, and people feel like I’ve been rich since I came out of my mama’s womb. They feel like I’ve basically been rich my whole life, and that’s never been the case. I didn’t meet Snoop till I was five years old. I wasn’t rich immediately when I went on tour with Snoop – as I recall, I wasn’t getting paid at all!
DJ Booth: That you knew about.
Bow Wow: Yeah, I didn’t know at all until I actually got money later on, when I got discovered. So I guess God had a plan for me. And since then, people [have thought] that everything’s been handed to me. I had to work for everything. And I’m gettin’ better, so instead of sayin’, “Bow Wow’s getting better,” they always wanna blame it on why I’m getting better, instead of just giving me the props. “He might be getting better because somebody’s writin’ for him!” you know what I’m saying? They always [say], “Well, Wayne or T.I.‘s writin’ for him,” and that’s not the case. So that’s why, when I had the chance, I was like, “Who knows me better than me, so why not me hate on myself?” And I can laugh at it, and that way people can’t say nothing bad about it.
DJ Booth: When I spoke with Chamillionaire late last year, he and I discussed the popularity of artists who embrace their haters. On the real, though, how have you personally gone about handling all the criticism.
Bow Wow: I don’t. That would be another job, if I had to handle haters – that’s a lot. I don’t think Superman can even… that’s a lot. You know how Santa Claus’s duty is to get to everybody’s house before Christmas?
DJ Booth: Which is damn hard.
Bow Wow: Exactly. That’s so difficult, to try to deal with every hater. I don’t expect people to like my music whatsoever. How I deal with it is, I don’t give them fuel.
DJ Booth: But how hard is that, for you to idly sit there knowing that people are taking shots at you?
Bow Wow: It’s okay. I ignore it because, at the end of the day I’m gonna get more money, make more money, come back to my condo, be in bed with a bad model girl at the end of the night. It doesn’t really stress me out. My life is not stressful.
DJ Booth: When you have a bunch of commas in your bank account, that helps also.
Bow Wow: Yeah, it doesn’t matter. You know who you are as a person, so it doesn’t matter.
DJ Booth: One last record I want to touch on, which we featured on DJBooth, is “Pole in My Basement” – a personal favorite of mine, might I add. You’re prominently featured on the song, singing. Did you consider using an R&B guest feature, or did you know that this was something you wanted to do?
Bow Wow: Aw, man. [laughs] How I got that record was, [I was] sittin’ in my living room, you know, most guys my age are in college right now. This is, like, our grown-man stage. I’m livin’ the ultimate bachelor’s life. I always envisioned me havin’ a pole in my living room, and just lighting candles around my crib and just sittin’ there mellowed out and havin’ the baddest girl dance melodically – not raunchy, but very sexy and elegant on a pole – and let the spotlight be on her. It might sound weird, but that’s how I just envisioned it. When I did it, I was like, “I can’t make it raunchy or disgusting, I gotta make it melodic and sexy and real low-key, something that you can drink to, something that could come on in the strip club, smokers can smoke to it.” Whatever it is that you do, you can do it to this record, but I wanted to make it sexy for the girls, so that whoever’s dancing on the pole when the song comes on, they feel it. Drumma Boy actually produced the official version. I think the version y’all got is, like, the mixtape version, ‘cause I jacked that beat; the version y’all will hear on the album, the lyrics and the pattern are the exact same, but it’s a different beat.
DJ Booth: I know you probably don’t have a basement in your condo, so, “Pole in My Condo,” or is that just not catchy enough?
Bow Wow: [laughs] No, it’s still gonna be “Pole in My Basement.”
DJ Booth: Movin’ forward, Bow, when you’re done with this album, I’ve read several reports that you’re more interested in going the Hollywood route. Is there a music future after this album, or are you straight movies?
Bow Wow: [There] is, ‘cause I feel like I’m just startin’. I’ve been puttin’ out so many records, man – freestyles, I put out my first mixtape late last year, it was a success. I’m about to put out my other mixtape at the end of this month, on the 31st, called Half Man, Half Dog Vol. 2, hosted by DJ Infamous. I think I’m just now startin’ to get to the point where guys are startin’ to respect my grind, and respect my lyrics and things that I’m gettin’ into, and they see the hunger in me, and they know that I wanna become the best, and I’m just tryin’ to prove myself. I feel like it would be a letdown if I stopped now.
DJ Booth: I’m gonna let you get out of here after this last question. It’s honesty time – when you exploded onto the scene in 2000, I did not think that Lil’ Bow Wow had a long-term future in this industry, but your success has certainly defied my initial expectations. So, has your success defied your expectations?
Bow Wow: Of course. Like, it goes down to [what I said about] haters and beef – the reason why I don’t is because, for me, it’s just not it, you know what I’m sayin’? I beef and battle with myself, ‘cause I’m in competition with myself. I feel like I always have to outdo whatever it is that I’ve done. I’m too busy worrying about myself, and how can I better me, or how can I beat the last material I put out. That’s the realest, most honest way I can answer that question, is it all starts with me.
DJ Booth: Well, you’re makin’ all the right moves, obviously, and it’s all leading up to the release of your new album this March. Bow, go ahead and give everybody a website or a MySpace page, something so they can find out more.
DJ Booth: Thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth. The best of luck.
Bow Wow: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.