Shad Gregory Moss (born March 9, 1987), better known by his stage name Bow Wow (formerly Lil’ Bow Wow), is an American rapper, actor, television presenter, and broadcaster. As Lil’ Bow Wow, he released his first album, Beware of Dog, in 2000 at age 13, which was followed by Doggy Bag in 2001. In 2003, Bow Wow released his third album, which was the first album released after dropping the “Lil'” from his stage name. As of September 27, 2015, Bow Wow has signed a management deal to Bad Boy Records.
Bow Wow made his first movie appearance in All About the Benjamins, in 2002 as a cameo. In the same year, Bow Wow made his debut as the lead role in Like Mike. He later began to undertake lead roles in movies, such as Johnson Family Vacation in 2004 and Roll Bounce in 2005. He also played a supporting role in the film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006. Bow Wow also appeared in five episodes of the television series Entourage and starred as Brody Nelson in CSI: Cyber until the show’s cancellation in 2016.
Bow Wow was born Shad Gregory Moss in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Teresa Rena Caldwell (née Jones) and Alfonso Preston Moss. At age three, he became interested in rap. Under the moniker “Kid Gangsta”, he began rapping recreationally at age six; he was also a fan of N.W.A at that age. In 1993, he performed at a concert in Los Angeles, and was noticed by rapper Snoop Dogg, who subsequently gave him a stage name, “Lil’ Bow Wow”. He then appeared on the Doggystyle album on the track, “Gz and Hustlas”, and on The Arsenio Hall Show in late 1993. He also appeared in the Gin and Juice music video. Furthermore, he was supposed to appear on the Murder Was the Case soundtrack with the song, “After 3”, featuring Kurupt, Jewell, and CPO Boss Hogg but it remained in the vault until the early 2010s.
In 1998, at the age of eleven, Bow Wow met record producer Jermaine Dupri, who helped shape his career. In 1999, the soundtrack to the movie Wild Wild West featured his song “The Stick Up” with his mentor Jermaine Dupri. At the age of 13, in 2000, he debuted with Beware of Dog under the stage name Lil’ Bow Wow. Its debut single was “Bounce with Me”, which featured R&B girl group Xscape. The album also included “Bow Wow (That’s My Name)” featuring Snoop Dogg, which topped the rap chart, “Puppy Love”, and “Ghetto Girls”. The Recording Industry Association of America certified Beware of Dog double platinum on March 5, 2001, signifying sales of two million copies. In a 2009 interview, the rapper claimed that the album had sold over 3 million copies since its release.
In 2002, his second album Doggy Bag was released with singles “Take Ya Home” which peaked at #72 on the Hot 100 and #21 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and “Thank You” with Jagged Edge, #1 on the R&B chart. Doggy Bag peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and was certified platinum. Lil’ Bow Wow performed the track “Basketball” for the soundtrack of his film Like Mike; that song peaked at #1 on the R&B and #25 on the rap chart.
Bow Wow dropped the “Lil'” from his stage name in April 2002; he told MTV News: “I changed my name because I’m getting older now and it’s too many Lil’s. All these Lil’ rappers, I’m just kind of getting real irritated by it. I said, ‘You know what? Drop the Lil’. Forget it. I’m Bow Wow. Besides, I’m growing up, I’m not little anymore. [I just decided that] two weeks ago. I really got irritable. It’s all these Lil’ cats, forget it. I’m Bow Wow now. Everything is just ‘Bow Wow,’ no ‘Lil’ Bow Wow.'”
Bow Wow planned to release his new then-titled album Underrated on Cash Money Records, but the record underwent a number of delays, and, in mid-November 2011, Bow Wow announced on his blog that the record wouldn’t be out before 2012. The album was intended to feature Birdman, Boyz II Men, Chris Brown, DJ Khaled, Fabolous, Game, Lil Wayne, Lloyd Banks, Meek Mill, Nas, Nelly, Sean Kingston, Snoop Dogg, DMX, Styles P and Talib Kweli. The first promo single being “For My Hood”, featuring DJ Khaled & Sean Kingston. On November 1, 2010, Bow Wow released his first promotional single from the album entitled “Ain’t Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” featuring Chris Brown. The music video was a success on 106 & Park and made the countdown in just one day. Two weeks later, it peaked at #1 on the show’s charts and remained #1 for three days. On June 2, 2011, a song from his album called “I’m Da Man”, which features Chris Brown, was leaked and wasn’t the first official single from the album. On October 24, 2011, Bow Wow released the single entitled “Sweat” featuring Lil Wayne, and though it was thought to be the first official single from the album, it was also dubbed by Bow Wow as a promotional single.
On May 18, 2012, after several delays, Bow Wow released the first single from the album titled “Better” featuring T-Pain. The music video for the song was directed by Bow Wow’s personal cameraman Rico Da Crook and was a success on 106 & Park and made it to the top of the countdown. On June 26, 2012, Bow Wow released the second single from the album titled “We In Da Club” and was produced by DJ Mustard. The song went nowhere on any billboard charts, but the video was also another success on 106 & Park making it to the top of the countdown. The third single scheduled from the album was intended to feature Miguel that was titled “Right Now”. Later, there was an announcement that Universal Republic Records was going defunct; all of the artists on the roster that was moved from the label, including Bow Wow, were moved to Republic Records, making the label itself revived.
On August 10, 2013, via his official YouTube page, Bow Wow stated the reason that Underrated had been delayed was the result of raising his daughter and waiting until he was more mature; he also stated he planned on working on and releasing the album after he turned 28. On June 24, 2014, Bow Wow announced via Instagram that after the 2014 BET Awards, he was going by his real name Shad Moss, claiming that he made a lot of history as Bow Wow and that it was now time for “the next chapter and challenge”. He stated that “Bow Wow” no longer fit with his new personality as he was now a father, host, and actor, and he had matured from what he had been early on in his life.
In May 2015, with his long-delayed album with Cash Money still without a release date, Bow Wow announced that he had amicably parted ways with Cash Money Records so he could move on with his music career. He said, “I wanna dictate when my music comes out. I’m tired of going to the studio to make records and then I listen to them. ‘Cuz then they get old. Then when y’all ask for new music I don’t wanna hear it ‘cuz I’ve been listening to it for two or three months. I just can’t be held up by anybody. It’s as simple as that. I got a daughter. I got a family I gotta provide for.” On September 27, 2015, Bow Wow signed to Puff Daddy’s record label Bad Boy Records. He then named the members of his new management team and finished the post by writing, “Making money won’t be the issue. Figuring out where to keep it all is another story!”
On August 7, 2016, Bow Wow officially announced that he is retiring from rapping and will release one more album, titled NYLTH, which was initially tentatively scheduled for release in 2017. As of November 2019, it has not come out.
Prior to his final album release, Bow Wow and Soulja Boy released a joint retail mixtape titled Ignorant Shit on October 25, 2016.
Bow Wow has made guest appearances on Brandy’s TV sitcom, Moesha, as well as The Steve Harvey Show and Brothers Garcia. He made his acting debut in the film Like Mike which was released on July 3, 2002, in which he starred as a young orphan who gets a shot at playing in the NBA. Before Like Mike he made cameos in All About The Benjamins and “Carmen: A Hip Hopera”. Bow Wow also co-starred with Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa L. Williams, and Solange Knowles in Johnson Family Vacation. Since the success of Like Mike, Bow Wow has starred in several Hollywood films, including Roll Bounce, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Hurricane Season. He has also made guest appearances on Smallville and Ugly Betty. He was part of the cast of the fifth season of HBO’s Entourage, playing Charlie an up-and-coming comedian, and Eric Murphy’s newest client. He starred in a 2010 comedy film, Lottery Ticket, with Ice Cube. He is working on a documentary on his life titled Who Is Shad Moss?; Bow Wow stated that the documentary goes all the way back to when he was on Death Row Records, and it was released in 2011.
Bow Wow starred in the film version of Madea’s Big Happy Family, released in April 2011. In August 2014, Bow Wow announced that he would star in a CSI spinoff titled CSI: Cyber.