The Many Ballads of Bow Wow

The Internet hasn’t been kind to one Shad Moss, aka Lil’ Bow Wow aka Bow Wow, in the past couple weeks. Or ever, actually. Maybe it’s his never-quite-stunting-right. Maybe it’s our built up anger of having lost a beloved child star who enriched our childhoods with his easy smile and trademark Harlem Shake, to the jaded and often bitey adult who suspiciously hosted 106 & Park after having an entire contest to see some unknown host it. Let’s also not forget this choice moment.

I mean. It’s a fraught relationship. Shad was at one point the crown jewel of an era. So So Def was an army. Better yet, a navy. Pre-Trap-Takeover Atlanta was a sound. But hey, times, they-a-change, yeah? And maybe, all this nostalgia is also the problem. The cat (dog? pup? I’m unsure of the right terminology here for sure) was a kid out here pushing the teenie bopper culture forward. But did he get to be a kid? Did he get to actually enjoy his life? I’ve got a lot of issues with child star culture, and especially how young black boys and girls get heavily sexualized and stylized in the music industry. But, that’s another essay.

My point in the here and now is this: Shad Moss may be the King of L’s, but I don’t think we give him enough credit for the wins he’s enjoyed and shared with us through the years. Fandom is a fickle state of being. And if Shad’s losses have taught us anything, it’s that the Internet rarely forgets. Especially when you continuously, braggadociously, provide fertile content to be parodied.

So as a peace offering to Mr. Moss, and to properly respect the work he has done to add to our lives, I present this short retrospective. Below you’ll find some choice moments from days when Mr. Moss wasn’t the laughing stock of anyone with an internet connection and a slight mean streak.

A close up screenshot of Shad Moss, aka Lil Bow Wow, dunking a basketball as Calvin Cambridge in the 2000 comedic movie, Like Mike.

Like Mike

His magnum opus, if you will. At a ripe 15 Lil’ Bow Wow (not yet, Shad) was still my height, and on the cusp of entering the terrible ugly duckling phase of child stardom. To capitalize on his seemingly eternal babyface and youth, he jumped out the window for the alley oop with Like Mike. Less a movie and more a bid to employ as many NBA players as possible with a licensed soundtrack, Like Mike is full of quintessential Lil’ Bow Wow moments and even more corniness. But, it gave us some great moments. Like doing trigonometry with Morris Chestnut via basketball analogies and Bow Wow’s terrible, low budget CGI slam dunks. And of course, the title song. Considering its importance to the culture, and its significance as the milestone after which things became rocky for Shad, I give it 4 paw prints and 2 woofs.

An ensemble shot of the cast of the 2005 movie, Roll Bounce, starring Shad Moss, aka Bow Wow.

Roll Bounce

Quite possibly grown up Bow Wow’s (now Shad) greatest cinematic achievement to date, Roll Bounce did what ATL failed to do in the oft attempted, but rarely achieved, “be a cohesive movie led by non-actor rappers” category. While the stakes are about as low as a bald fade, the movie succeeds in making you invested in these kids. From their relationships to their attempt to become the best roller skaters on the block, Roll Bounce is a solid, casual flick. This casual nature boosts its “feel good movie” status while  leveraging the best of everyone involved. Shad especially flexes some of those acting skills, while shockingly embracing a non-cornrow hairstyle. Considering the Lil’ Bow Wow/ Bow Wow brand, I wonder if that afro of his is considered method acting. Oh, and: are we sure that Sweetness, Wesley Jonathan, isn’t related to actually Nick Cannon? For effort, storyline and sheer competence, I give it 3 paw prints.

A medium screenshot of Shad Moss and Natauri Naughton in the 2010 comedic movie, Lottery Ticket.

Lottery Ticket

For those who don’t know: Shad wins the lottery in the hood, and everyone tries to track him down to drain him of his incoming funds. This movie is highkey written by a Twitter nigga. From start to finish it’s filled with lusty gold diggers, signifying homies and Brandon T. Jackson (again) before he became a Black Israelite. Need. I. Say. More? The only reason it’s on the list here is because it’s lowkey funny, and again, we see Bow Wow enjoying himself because he knew he’d be getting our money at least for opening weekend. For the fact that this movie happened but is never spoken of after the fact, I give it 2 big dog paw prints and 1 puppy paw print.

these boots mine.Dap owns Timberland boots and is committed to loving black women, eating good food and diversifying media as he sees fit and while he can. He can be found yelling into the abyss and being snarky on the following:  IG | Twitter