Just as diamonds are created from carbon through intense heat and pressure deep beneath the earth’s surface, Bow Wow — listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest solo rapper to ever hit #1 — has matured from a multi-platinum teen rap star into a full-fledged musical force with his fifth studio album, The Price of Fame, a journey inside the mind of a man who’s grown up in the public eye, felt the pleasures and pitfalls of acclaim, and learned valuable lessons from the wealth of his experience.
According to Bow Wow, who will be 20 in March 2007, this last year “was emotional and stressful. I felt like I was going crazy with things bothering me, and all this comes with being famous.” Coming off of one of the busiest — the SRO Scream IV Tour and top-grossing features films including “Roll Bounce” and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” — years of his career, Bow Wow wanted “to go in the studio and work because it’s just natural. Every song is from experience. It’s easy for me to do what I do because it is a reflection of my life.”
As a youngster growing up in show business, Bow Wow felt that he couldn’t freely express himself on a variety of issues because of his age. While his first four albums — Beware of Dog (2000), Doggy Bag (2001), Unleashed (2003), and Wanted (2005) — showed an artist progressively expanding the range of his style and the reach of his topics, The Price of Fame takes Bow Wow boldly into new areas of musical and lyrical exploration. “Now that I’m older, there are things that I can talk about. I feel free,” says Bow Wow. “Finally I’ve gotten the green light to talk about what I’ve wanted to talk about for so many years. It’s definitely a real rap album. I’ve stepped up lyrically. I want to become known as more of a lyricist, I want to prove I am more than a heart-throb.”
Bow Wow re-teamed with longtime mentor, friend, producer and current co-manager Jermaine Dupri to co-executive produce the new album. Always mindful of his fans, Bow Wow gives them heart-throb familiarity with his first single, “Shortie Like Mine,” produced by JD and features R&B heartthrob Chris Brown and longtime songwriter and singing newcomer Johnta Austin. “Give It To You” is another high energy, Bow Wow-produced track destined to light up the dance floors of club land.
For The Price of Fame ,Bow Wow delved deep into his writing while trying his hand once again at production. On the intro to the title track, “Price of Fame,” Bow is heard venting: “I’m letting people feel my pain, letting them know what I’ve been through in this year alone.” Young Jinsu, a 13-year-old, Rhode Island rapper by way of New York, is heard throughout the track pumping Bow Wow up.
Bow Wow is both wordsmith and budding entrepreneur, having signed Jinsu to his own label, The LB Dub Gang. “I’m passing the Lil Bow Wow torch to Jinsu,” Bow Wow offers. “This Bow Wow movement with teenagers, girls and kids goes back to Jermaine being a mentor, father figure and learning from him and watching him for the past seven years.”
“This is my crew,” Bow Wow announces and that includes Clee-O, an 18 year old actor/ rapper who co-starred with Bow Wow in “Roll Bounce” and The Rock in “Walking Tall.” Bow Wow’s vision for his new label reflects his growth and maturity. “Jermaine has blessed me with the ability to do what I do and he’s given me my shot into the industry,” acknowledges Bow Wow, “so now it’s my turn to give blessings back to other people that also have the opportunity to do bigger and better things. It’s only right to push your people forward.”
As Bow Wow welcomes his fans into the truth of his world, it’s apparent that The Price of Fame comes with a price tag. “People ask for this life but they don’t really understand what comes with it,” Bow Wow confesses. “People just see the outside and that looks good – big houses, cars, girls, but you never see how the person is feeling deep down inside. Me personally, being a man, I’m going to feel better displaying all of this and pouring my heart out on each record.” As the rapper/actor/entrepreneur charts his course through the next phase of his career, Bow Wow is very clear. “There’s a lot of pressure,” he says. “I’m a real guy, and trying to hold all of this in one brain can make you go crazy sometimes. So that’s really been the price of fame for me, just dealing with all the drama and the b.s.”
With a new energy and spirit Bow Wow is playing the game to win. “I let life really guide me,” he admits. “Just going through things that I’ve been through in my life has helped me to become a better person. Things have helped me grow and become who I am. Once you go through things, you’ll see things differently, and that’s basically my motto and what I’ve learned so far.”
For Bow Wow, The Price of Fame is ultimately worth the cost. “I don’t have a choice,” says the born artist. “I’m ready to take on anything and this album is a way for me to release it all. I can take all the negative energy and turn it into a positive simply by purging my soul through music. That’s how powerful music can be. When people hear this record, they will definitely know where I’m at as far as my life and me as an artist. This album is really a tell-all album.”