Year in Music 2017

The 'Price' Is Right

Bow Wow's image as the cute preteen heartthrob who cut his teeth on pop confections still lingers. But that's not the Bow Wow criss-crossing the country promoting his fifth album, "The Price of Fame,"

Bow Wow's image as the cute preteen heartthrob who cut his teeth on pop confections still lingers. But that's not the Bow Wow criss-crossing the country promoting his fifth album, "The Price of Fame," due this week. Yes, the Columbia rapper still leaves hearts throbbing. But now he's added a less innocent feel to his rap game. "I'm grown," proclaims a deep-voiced Bow Wow, who turns 20 in March. "This time I'm definitely pushing the edge."

On the heels of 2005's "Wanted," which featured the top five crossover hits, "Let Me Hold You" featuring Omarion and "Like You" with Ciara, Bow Wow is reclaiming the same territory with current hit "Shortie Like Mine." The fast-climbing single pairs him with fellow heartthrob Chris Brown and singer/songwriter Johnta Austin.

When it comes to edgy, the female-targeted, smooth-grooved "Shortie Like Mine" doesn't exactly fit the bill. But as producer Jermaine Dupri notes, it and similar songs are integral to Bow Wow's transition from preteen novelty act to full-fledged adult rapper. "I've tried to make records that grow with his fans," he says. "Although he's five to 10 years older mentally than his true age, I never let him leave those fans because that's who made him and I made him for them."

After "Shortie," Bow Wow says "Price" features two other "real girl records. Other than that, this is definitely a straight, edgy rap album." The title track, one of four co-written by Bow Wow (born Shad Moss), is one example. On its intro he declares, "I'm letting people feel my pain, letting them know what I've been through this year alone." Guests Lil Wayne, Pimp C, Lil Scrappy and Short Dawg join him on "4 Corners," which he calls the "ghettoest street record I've ever done and the only record on the album that we really had to clean up."