Bow Wow, a.k.a. Shad Moss, made a big announcement over the weekend that he was leaving Cash Money Records and ending his six-year run with the house that Birdman and Slim built. Cash Money has been in this situation, in which their roster dwindles in numbers due to an artist being unhappy, before. But for the former 106 & Park host, it’s a “peaceful situation” where he showed nothing but love for Stunna and the things he learned as a Cash Money artist.
“I got so much respect for Birdman. A lot of respect,” he said in his message posted on Facebook. “This is a man who took a risk on signing me, not only that, but a person who opened up his space to me […] I never had other issues that a lot of other artists are having, I never had that with him.”
They say the grass is greener on the other side, and Bow Wow is living proof of that. He’s excited for the next phase of his rap career, realigning with veterans Snoop Dogg and Jermaine Dupri, who were both instrumental in his success as a child. The 28-year-old rapper is a free agent now, enjoying his freedom as an independent artist until the right opportunity presents itself. Until then, we can expect a game-changing single, “Can’t Wait,” which will be produced by JD and features Snoop, that’s coming later this month.
While Bow Wow was out in Los Angeles, we spoke to him about his new musical direction, his time on Cash Money, the roles Dupri and Snoop will play in his career now and what’s next.
Congrats on CSI: Cyber getting a second season. How do you feel about the first season and your first recurring role on television?
I feel real good. For me, it’s just trying to branch off and win in different areas. I’ve tried this TV thing twice before, and unfortunately I had to go through two failures to get to a third situation, which is now CSI. For me to be finally, finally be winning in TV, it just lets me know that hard work pays off. It also lets me know that timing is everything. It just wasn’t my time then. I feel like now it just started to come around. It’s looking to become my time so I’m looking to take advantage of it.
What are you gonna do in between the seasons?
We’ve been off since the end of January. We actually are filming probably in two months. We back up and running in July. I really don’t have that much time to really kick back and relax. It’s cool. It’s what I’m built for. I’m ready to get back on set and back to work anyway. Season two should be fun and it should even be easier for us. It should be easier.
You announced recently that you’re coming back to music. How have you progressed artistically since your last album, New Jack City II? You’re probably a lot different now.
Yeah, it’s totally different. It’s supposed to be like that because music is supposed to be organic. It’s supposed to come from the gut. It’s supposed to come from the heart. And I can only make music on how I feel and the things that I see every day and the things that I do in my life. That’s where I get all my inspiration from. With that being said, the music is definitely different. It’s more melodic rap. I do a lot of that now. You know, it’s kind of catchy. I find myself that I want to have fun in music. I want to have fun with my own shit.
Nah, it’s gonna be a whole different side. More trap-based, Southern-based production, as well as uptempo stuff that Jermaine [Dupri] is doing. Also, I’ve been working with 808 Mafia, just doing a lot with them. They are what I consider the hottest producers in the South right now, as far as that trap sound. That’s what you are looking for. A lot of bass, a lot of it is gonna sound like the area that I’m from. I live in Atlanta, I live in LA, and so you kind of get a mix of both. So that’s where I’m at right now musically.
Are you going to share more of your story? You’ve said before that you always wanted to talk about your days in So So Def and growing up around Death Row.
For me, it was kind of like I would rather do a movie than really do music on it. I don’t know. I think I’m just in a different space. You know, I just wanna have fun. I wanna enjoy life. I’m in a good space. I think that’s what music is about. You create music on what space you in. I think all the greats have done that. Whether it’s Jay Z saying, ‘I want to do an album called American Gangster.’ He saw the movie and got inspired and it just made him want to do an album. He went through the drug dealer and created a wonderful album. Of course, you got Wayne and he tried rock. It all depends on where you at.
Who do you think is your audience now?
I think that my fan base varies. Whether it is age, race — everything. It’s just different. I got fans that are six to 40 years old. So with that being said, all I gotta do is just go in the studio and just do me. No matter what I do, just be Bow. Just pray that my fans accept it. That’s all I can do.
You told your fans you had a lot of records in the stash. Are we gonna see those soon? Or are you starting from scratch?
I’m definitely starting from scratch soon because the sound has changed. I’m for sure gonna be putting out these records that I’m holding on to for some time.
What’s the oldest one you have?
Man, there’s just so many of them now just thinking about them. I got records with so many people now that I think about it. From Wiz [Khalifa] to Musiq Soulchild, it’s just that range. If you can just see from Wiz to Musiq Soulchild, I’ve worked with just about everybody in the game. I’m excited to finally put out this music and get it going and get the fans ready.
You established the Bow Wow brand on So So Def, and you got a lot of newer fans while on Cash Money. What did you learn on that label?
I learned how to be independent. I learned how to get it on my own. That made me more independent. That taught me how to really believe in myself. No handouts are given over there. You kinda just have to do you. That’s pretty much what I learned. But other than that, there’s pretty much nothing I can learn from you. I’ve been doing this for so long, so I didn’t go over there for learning anything. Really, you know, try to be successful. That’s the only thing I can really take away from it is the hustle and being more of the grind and really believe in yourself and just know that ain’t nobody gonna work for you or work as hard for you as you will for yourself. That’s what I learned.
Do you think Birdman was a good mentor?
Yeah, without a doubt. Anybody who is successful in anything can be a great mentor. With success, anybody wants to have a branch off that type of a tree, you know? [Laughs.] With that being said, anytime you got somebody who’s put out artists the way he has put out artists and so on and so on. Definitely someone with that magnitude can definitely be a great teacher.
Yeah, and I’m thankful for that. I just felt like it was a bad choice of records. I think that’s why I chose to go back home with what I know where I can really win at. And that’s being with Jermaine and just getting back in pocket, getting back in key and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. You know, I had a great time over there. I definitely wouldn’t take anything back. I wouldn’t change anything. The time I spent over there I did learn a lot. With that being said, I’m back home with Snoop and JD, where I need to be. I’m ready with a squad that’s ready to get down and handle business and do it how you really supposed to do it.
You posted this message on Facebook: “Shoulda signed to Atlantic. Chose _____ business over the right way to do business. Lesson learned. Cats a rob they own kind for the power and bread…” What was the meaning behind that?
Just with business in general, you could be the manager at Dunkin Donuts and it could be anybody. I just think with any business, there’s always going to be three. There’s going to be power. There’s always going to be fighting to be number one. I mean, you seen that happen with Kobe and Shaq. With Shaq, Kobe felt a way. He really wanted to showcase that he was the man. So for me, thinking everything over and just reminiscing like, ‘Man, things could have been different if I did sign that contract versus signing this one.’ I think things would have been different. Of course, they would have been because every situation is not the same situation. You know, I said what I had to say on it. I put a video out there and pretty much say what I had to say. Now we just going [about] the situation the way we supposed to and we handling it and everything is gonna be everything. I had a good time over there; it was a cool little vibe. Now it is time for me to handle my business and do what I gotta do. And get back on track and have fun doing it for my day ones [fans].
You aligned yourself with Snoop and Jermaine again. What roles are they gonna play now?
Big roles. Life coaches. Musical mentors. Producers. Advisers. Everything. Even as great as Michael Jordan was, you gotta coach him. You know Michael wasn’t without a coaching staff. He had the skills, but it took the coach to bring the skills out. And it’s the same way with Jermaine and it’s the same way with Dogg. That’s just what it is. I’ve always been an artist to listen. I’ve always been the artist to listen, no matter how big I get. I feel like I’m the boss when they not around. But once they are around, I feel like I’m still boss but it’s kinda like it notched me down two levels a bit, which is cool because they’ve been doing it longer than me. It’s an oldest, some respect thing.
You wanted to have total control of your sound this time around. Do you think you’ll bump heads with Snoop and Jermaine at some point?
Definitely not. Jermaine gives me a lot of freedom in the studio now. He’ll come in. He’ll walk in if I’m in the booth and he’ll hear something. 'Just switch that around and just put that word there.' That’s pretty much it. Jermaine lays down the foundation. He does the beat. He does all that. Once he got that, he’ll track it over. I’ll hit the go and I don’t write down nothing. I’ll just go in the booth and I’ll just get to going off the top of my head and then boom! We got it. I’m shouting out stuff and there it go. That’s pretty much how the magic happens now.
It used to not work that way. It used to be a whole other process. Now, it’s just different. It’s fun — a lot of energy in the studio. The music we create right now, we are just trying to create scenery while we make the music we are trying to make. So it’s dope. I feel like it’s going to be very, very interesting come this time around. It’s gonna be fun, and I can’t wait.
What are you and Jermaine going to bring to the table now? What do you think is missing in hip hop?
Me. All me. I think Jermaine, with him DJing all over the world, that gave him the easiest cheat code in the world. To play so many records and to hear so many sounds and the producer, to hear what people are moving to. Hundreds of people that are moving to. As a producer, when it is time for you to go back and make music, it’s like a no-brainer to make the people move. You understand sequence. You understand what songs go after this, so for him to give me a big record or a club smash or whatever you want to call it. It’s just gonna sound right because he understands the sound and how it just flows into each other. It’s kinda easy. And with me out here still being young and knowing what’s hip and knowing what’s hot and me still having a lot of influence on my culture alone, you put that two and two together, it’s gonna be monumental.
Tell me about the single coming up. It’s called “Can’t Wait” and it has production by Jermaine and featuring Snoop?
When I hear the record, I just think pool party. I just think radio smash and I just think club smash. Undeniable. That’s what I hear. That’s the best way I can describe it. Undeniable. Catchy as hell. Easy. Simple. And just a hit.
Is the album still gonna be called Underrated?
I don’t even think we stepped in the studio and think, “OK, we are recording an album today.” Me and Jermaine, we are just at point where we just work. We just work. If it’s hot, we putting it out and we going with it. We just riding the wave. If we gotta put out one, we will. We ain’t hesitant to do that, but we ain’t in a rush to do it neither. We want to have some fun with the music. Get out here, put these records out for the people and go out here and do what we gotta do. And build this ship up. That’s when we want to do.
Are you putting out music as Shad Moss or Bow Wow?
Nah, the music is coming out as Bow Wow. See that’s the rapper s**t. Shad is the actor, that’s the vodka dude. We know how to separate the two. When it’s time to get back on the mic, we know there’s only one person who can touch that. That’s Bow. Shad gotta stay away from that. [Laughs.]
(Photo: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images)