In With a Bark, Out With a Whimper
Well, it’s “official”. Rapper/Actor/Host and Insta-ranter, Shad Moss (a/k/a Bow Wow, f/k/a Lil’ Bow Wow) will retire from music after his forthcoming album NYLTH. While the news may have been something of great importance and relief to the former 106th & Park host, it was met with the same indifference that has pretty much defined the rest of career. Moss’ success in entertainment is undeniable, but when the responses to your “retirement” are various versions of “I thought you retired ten years ago” it’s safe to say, Shad got fired on his day off many moons ago, he was just the last to know.
The problem with Moss’ career, mostly in his music, but it could be argued in other facets as well, is one of validity. The child star always had a seemingly uphill battle in getting people to take him seriously, even while he was selling out shows and releasing platinum albums. He was still seen as the little kid playing rapper. Whether it was designated from Uncle Snoop or not, professionally calling yourself Lil’ Bow Wow, and pushing song after song, album after album with doggie puns won’t get you much in the way of credibility. Neither will dropping the “Lil” as most rappers did around 2006, since well, your name at that point is just Bow Wow.
Then there was the issue of actual talent. Not whether he could actually rap, it’s clear that he can. The validity dragon that he chased, and eluded him so much was because his career, like many a child star before him, was so carefully crafted by the team he was surrounded by. Bow Wow was Kriss Kross 2.0, but now with the mega marketing power that hip-hop had been afforded in the decade since the Mac Daddy made ya jump (likely because backward pants had something of a bathroom flaw). Bow Wow was included on movie soundtracks, candy commercials, and had movie cameos. All based around his precociousness and stature, yet nothing to do with his own prowess behind the scenes. No, we didn’t expect at 10 year old to take pen to page on his own songs, but as his career progressed, his involvement stayed about the same. Moss doesn’t start to rack up writing credits until his 4th album, and that’s only on two songs. He likely doesn’t dry out a single bic until his joint LP with Omarion Face Off, at the ripe old age of 20. Which is about the time he claims he took time off to focus on acting.
Welp, Shad while you and JT (Justin Timberlake, we assume) have about the same amount of film/screen credits in about the same amount of time, your screen career was never seen as “time away” from music, mostly since we’d tuned you out years before. It was just another thing you were doing. Always present, never relevant.
So now, as he”officially” walks away from music, once again lashing out at those that never actually embraced him to begin with and after his stint on CSI: Cyber comes to an end, Shad claims he’d always wanted to be done with rap by the time he was 30. Odd choice, as most of the top acts in the game (Drake, Kendrick, J. Cole, KRIT, Big Sean, etc) are right in that age group, and seemingly getting better. Dude defied the odds by sticking around as long as he did, without becoming a complete punchline, but he focused on all of the things we didn’t care about as opposed to his accomplishments. He was never the “top guy” in hip-hop. Could have been because we all knew he wasn’t responsible for his own image, or that he never seemed to age beyond 19, but whatever the reason, you say you’re stepping away, when it seems more likely we just told you to step off.