Going into his ninth year in the entertainment business, pint-sized rap star Lil’ Bow Wow is branching out – more music, movies and even a clothing line. Heady stuff for someone who turned 15 on March 9.
Since being discovered at age 6, the 5-foot protege of rapper-actor Snoop Dogg has set the stage for other young rappers. His teen-age fans have pushed his two albums, “Beware of Dog” and “Doggy Bag,” to platinum status.
His story is old hat in hip-hop circles. In 1993 while on the Chronic Tour, Snoop pulled the boy – who was born Shad Moss – up onstage during a show, picking him out of the crowd by chance. An impressed Snoop then invited him backstage, bestowed on him the name Lil’ Bow Wow, got him signed on as an opening act for the rest of the tour, and made him guest rapper on the “Doggystyle” album.
It’s been nonstop ever since for Lil’ Bow Wow, whose hometown is the blue-collar Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg.
Bow, as everyone calls him, has spent the past few years touring and performing with the likes of Madonna at awards shows and benefits.
Now, he’s starring in the movie “Like Mike.” It’s the story of a boy whose magic sneakers let him fly on the basketball court like Michael Jordan. His co-stars are a slew of NBA stars, including Jordan, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett.
“I’m having a lot of fun filming the movie. It’s cool,” Bow said by telephone from Los Angeles during a brief break between filming and tutoring sessions.
“Like Mike” is expected to be released this summer, the same time Bow’s new line of children’s clothing, Lil’ Bow Wear, will be in stores.
1. What else is there left to do in show business that you haven’t already done?
Lil’ Bow Wow: I have no idea. But, I could see having a Bow Wow figure or something. (Laughing.)
2. Do you ever wish for a different childhood?
Lil’ Bow Wow: Sometimes, yes…. The only thing I’m really missing (is) going to school and getting a chance to play basketball every day and hanging out with my friends. I only go back home every now and then.
3. You have said that you’ve always wanted to be a professional basketball player. You recently played in the NBA All-Star Jam, and now you’ve played with Michael Jordan and others for the film. How did a little guy like you hang with the pros?
Lil’ Bow Wow: I did pretty well. I had a lot of things going on at that time, so I was a little distracted. But it was cool, you know, I’ve been an NBA fan ever since I was born, so being out there with everyone is great.
4. Who would win in a showdown on the microphone, you or Lil’ Romeo?
Lil’ Bow Wow: I started it. I was the first. I really opened up the gate and the next thing you know, another ‘little’ comes and another ‘little’ comes, and another ‘little’ comes, and it’s not stopping. It makes me feel good. I’m at the point where I don’t care what everyone else is doing.
5. Who’s the coolest person you’ve met and how did you meet?
Lil’ Bow Wow: Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and all the basketball stars. No, wait. It’s got to be Michael Jackson. Oh, no, Michael Jackson’s mom. Yeah, she’s probably the coolest. She invited me to the house to play with her grandkids one time because they were bored or something, so I went down to the house and hung out. And she said I could go back whenever I wanted. So, yeah, she’s probably the coolest person.