In between receiving BET and Nickelodeon awards, headlining a national tour, and receiving the key to the city of Camden, N.J., Lil’ Bow Wow (aka Shad Moss) managed to record the follow-up to his debut album, “Beware of Dog.”
“Doggy Bag” — the strong 13-track sequel due Dec. 18 on So So Def/Columbia — is led by the single “Thank You.” It was sent to R&B and crossover radio Nov. 8 and pop radio Nov. 21. The vinyl version of the single, featuring labelmates Jagged Edge and Fundisha, is also commercially available Dec. 18.
Another track, “Take Ya Home” — co-produced by So So Def chief Jermaine Dupri and the Neptunes — was released exclusively to mix-show radio and club DJs Dec. 1. Dupri produced the rest of the album in collaboration with Bryan-Michael Cox. Highlights include “Get Up” featuring Fundisha and “The Wickedest” and “Pick of the Litter” featuring So So Def newcomers R.O.C and Tigah.
“‘Thank You’ is the most powerful song I’ve released in my career so far,” says the 14-year-old Columbus, Ohio, native. “It’s about thanking all the fans, DJs, and people who made this all happen.” His gratitude is understandable: According to SoundScan, the young rapper’s freshman effort has sold 2.4 million units to date. In March, the set was certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for U.S. sales of 2 million copies.
An essential element of Lil’ Bow Wow’s success is his online community of young consumers. “The Internet has been a powerful vehicle for Bow Wow,” agrees Monica Hooks, director of product management at Columbia Records. “Since Bow Wow’s site was launched, he has been a top-5 artist at Sony Music. He even has an online street team. We’ve been able to sign up 20,000 kids to spread the word for us online.”
Mark Ghuneim, Columbia Records senior VP of online and emerging technologies, also attributes the online success to a reciprocity strategy. “[The kids] get signed pieces of merchandise, free CDs, free posters, or access to live performances before anyone else,” Ghuneim says about the site, which was relaunched Dec. 4. “There’s definitely some added value for them to work for us.”
Kids can also pick up points for voting for Lil’ Bow Wow videos at BET’s Web site. As a result, they’ve helped him maintain No. 1 runs on the network’s “106 & Park.” “I call BET ‘Bow Wow Entertainment Television,’ ” Lil’ Bow Wow jokes about his popularity on the network.
BET VP of music programming Stephen Hills adds, “Bow Wow succeeds in that he is precocious. He’s been here before. He gets this and understands what he’s doing. We’ve done a number of shows with him. All of them have been extremely high in the ratings.”
Lil’ Bow Wow appeared on “106 & Park” Dec. 4 in support of “Doggy Bag” and will return Dec. 17. He’s already turned in appearances on BET’s “Access Granted” and “Rap City,” and MTV’s “TRL.” He’ll also host “BET’s Top 25 Countdown” Dec. 22 and appear on MTV’s New Year’s Eve countdown program.
The rapper kicked off a promotional tour on the East Coast Nov. 26, hitting Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and New York, and then the West Coast — where Lil’ Bow Wow began filming the 20th Century Fox film “Like Mike.” The remainder of the promo tour is being booked around his filming schedule and will run through the early part of 2002.
“Doggy Bag” is due out in Europe in the spring. At that time, Lil’ Bow Wow will tour as either a headliner or as part of a So So Def extravaganza. Lil’ Bow Wow is also preparing to launch his own clothing line, Lil’ Bow Wear.