Also Credited As:Shad Moss, Shad "Bow Wow" Moss, Shad Gregory Moss, Shad Gregory Moss, Bow Wow Wow, Lil Bow Wow, Bow Wow
|March 9, 1987|
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Born March 9, 1987 in Columbus, OH, Shad Gregory Moss was the son of Teresa Caldwell and Alfonso Moss. The precocious child was interested in music from the age of three, and began performing rap music at age six under the moniker "Kid Gangsta." After meeting rap superstar Snoop Dogg, the youngster quickly impressed the veteran and was christened "Lil' Bow Wow" and given the opening slot on Snoop's tour. Signed to Death Row Record, Bow Wow's ascension was assured when he made a cameo on Snoop's controversial and groundbreaking Doggystyle debut album in 1993 and played the rapper's younger brother in the music video for "Gin and Juice." He came into his own at the age of 11, however, when producer Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def record label took Bow Wow under his professional wing.
His debut album Beware of Dog (2000) sold over two million copies, and his single "Bounce with Me" featuring Xscape appeared on the soundtrack of the hit movie "Big Momma's House" (2000). The song went to No. 1 on the U.S. rap chart and went Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also spawned the hits "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" featuring Snoop Dogg, "Puppy Love" and "Ghetto Girls." The rapper's second album Doggy Bag (2001) was a hit as well, spinning off the No. 1 hits "Take Ya Home" with Jagged Edge and "Thank You." Bow Wow's fame led to cameos in the ambitious Beyoncé/Mekhi Phifer adaptation "Carmen: A Hip Hopera" (MTV, 2001), on Brandy Norwood's sitcom "Moesha" (UPN, 1996-2001), and in the thriller "All About the Benjamins" (2002) with Ice Cube.
Bow Wow earned his first starring film role with the basketball fantasy "Like Mike" (2002), playing an orphan who discovered a pair of magical sneakers that he believes imbue him with the athletic skills of Michael Jordan. The kid-friendly film was a surprise hit, and featured appearances by many NBA stars. The following year, he dropped the "Lil'" from his professional name as well as his collaboration with Jermaine Dupri. His third album, Unleashed (2003) was a disappointment despite the hits "Let's Get Down" featuring Birdman and "My Baby" with Jagged Edge. He nabbed a flashy role as Cedric the Entertainer's feisty son in the successful road trip comedy "Johnson Family Vacation" (2004) with Vanessa L. Williams and Shannon Elizabeth. In his next film, the well-received "Roll Bounce" (2005), Bow Wow played a teenager competing in a roller disco contest in Chicago in 1978. He returned to music - and to producer Jermaine Dupri - with Wanted (2005), which lived up to its title, going platinum and charting a pair of singles, "Let Me Hold You" featuring Omarion and "Like You" featuring Ciara, who was briefly romantically linked to the rapper.
The following year saw Bow Wow staying busy, playing the colorful, street-smart Twinkie in monster hit "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (2006), guest-starring on the Superman reboot "Smallville" (The WB, 2001-06; The CW, 2006-2011) and releasing his fifth album, The Price of Fame (2006), which included the hits "Shortie Like Mine" featuring Chris Brown, "Outta My System" featuring T-Pain, and "I'm a Flirt" featuring R. Kelly. He slowed down his output in 2007, releasing the collaborative album Face Off with Omarion, which included the minor hit "Girlfriend," but picked up steam again the following year. Bow Wow filmed five episodes as a guest star on the young-bucks-in-Hollywood hit "Entourage" (HBO, 2004-2011) in 2008 and appeared as himself on an episode of the America Ferrera comedy series "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010).
His next album, New Jack City II (2009) was the rapper's first to receive a parental advisory sticker, but it languished on the charts and failed to make much of an impression. He played a supporting role in the direct-to-DVD sports drama "Hurricane Season" (2010) alongside Forest Whitaker, Taraji P. Henson and Lil Wayne, which told the inspirational story of athletes from five different high schools brought together to compete on the same team after Hurricane Katrina. Bow Wow returned to the multiplexes with a winning "Lottery Ticket" (2010). In the comedy, Bow Wow and his mother (Loretta Devine), win the lottery, but have to survive a holiday weekend - and the comical, colorful and violent schemes of neighbors, friends and family - to claim it.
By Jonathan Riggs