BOW WOW

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Every now and then a kid rapper breaks through and enjoys some short-term novelty success before getting swept away by the next big thing, and during the early 2000s, Lil Bow Wow was one of those kid rappers, though he did his best not to get swept away, changing his name to Bow Wow and swapping his originally poppy style for a more mature one.
Born in Reynoldsburg (Columbus), OH, Bow Wow began rapping at a very young age and had developed his style quite impressively by the time he hooked up with Jermaine Dupri of So So Def, a successful Atlanta-based record label. Dupri had experienced much success throughout the '90s with kid rappers such as Kris Kross and Da Brat, and he saw similar potential in Bow Wow, enough to bring him aboard the So So Def hit parade. Along with his right-hand man Bryan-Michael Cox, Dupri wrote and produced the bulk of the preteen's debut album, Beware of Dog (2000). The album spawned a runaway breakthrough single (and summer anthem), "Bounce with Me," along with a couple heavily rotated follow-up singles, "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" (featuring Snoop Dogg) and "Ghetto Girls."
All this success put Bow Wow's career into overdrive: he went back into the studio with Dupri and recorded a consciously poppy follow-up, Doggy Bag (2002), that was intended to consolidate the youngster's success, and he also went to Hollywood to star in Like Mike (2002), a kid-movie vehicle about basketball that turned out pretty well. Along the way, Bow Wow enjoyed another really big hit, "Take Ya Home" (produced by the Neptunes, right around the time that duo was unstoppable, churning out one hot hit after another), and changed his name from Lil Bow Wow to just Bow Wow. Among other changes that took place around this time, Bow Wow left So So Def and signed with Columbia, leaving his musical parents, Cox and Dupri, behind as well.

His first recording for Columbia, Unleashed (2003), showcased a more mature sound, one that straddled the mainstream and the streets simultaneously. The album didn't do so well commercially, however, and this didn't bode well for the pint-size rapper, especially considering the all-too-common fate that often befalls here-today, gone-tomorrow kid rappers. Appearances in the films Johnson Family Vacation (2004) and Roll Bounce (2005) kept Bow Wow out of the studio for a couple years. When he returned, he reunited with Dupri and released the Top Ten hit Wanted in July 2005. The album included a pair of Top Five singles, "Let Me Hold You" and "Like You," that helped re-establish Bow Wow as a rap star. A year later he released Price of Fame and appeared in the film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. For a while, he was romantically linked with Ciara, another young urban music star.

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