The untold truth of Lil Bow Wow

Shad "Lil Bow Wow" Moss was one of the most talented entertainers to hail from Ohio long before Trippie Redd started representing the Buckeye State. At the age of 13, he teamed up with So So Def Records head honcho Jermaine Dupri to release his multi-platinum debut album, Beware of the Dog, in 2000. A series of chart-topping Billboard tracks followed, including "Bounce With Me" and "Bow Wow (That's My Name)," which featured his mentor Snoop Dogg. 

Moss could've continued on his quest to dominate the charts, but, instead, the Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta star's career took an unexpected turn when he tried his hand at being an actor and TV personality. Hollywood was ready and willing to take him seriously, and the gigs began to pile up, including a role on HBO's Entourage and hosting duties on BET's 106 & Park.

While most people like to focus on his social media antics — such as the time he lied about flying in a private jet — there's another side to this multi-talented star. He not only opened the door for other young artists in the music industry, but his long career's contributions to the music world are unparalleled.

How much do you think you know about the "flyest thing walking through junior high school?" Let's find out as we explore the untold truth of Lil Bow Wow.

Becoming a star

Before breaking into the music industry, Lil Bow Wow was a 4-year-old budding star who went by the moniker "Kid Gangsta," according to The Telegraph. He was already getting his feet wet in the industry by landing modeling gigs, starring in television commercials, and showcasing his rapping skills whenever the opportunity arose.

It wasn't until he was 6 years old when the stars would align. Lil Bow Wow, his mom, and his mom's then-boyfriend were attending Snoop Dogg's The Chronic tour in Columbus, Ohio. Lil Bow Wow was selected to go on stage and rock the mic, and his skills reportedly left Snoop Dogg "in awe," as reported by The Source.

Snoop Dogg crowned him with his new moniker — Lil Bow Wow — and invited the young boy to finish off the tour as the concert's opening act. 

Thanks to Uncle Snoop Dogg — as Lil Bow Wow affectionately calls him — he received his first taste of fame at an early age, and his life would never be the same.

Seriously strange food preferences

We all have our own personal quirks, but Lil Bow Wow appears to have more than most of us. He gave the low-down on his food preferences in a 2015 feature with Us Weekly, which included 25 unknown facts about his life.

Some of his must-haves were quite tame, like his love for seafood alfredo, Sour Patch Kids candy, and Hawaiian Punch juice. But then, he added that he liked to eat "chocolate chip cookies without the chips." Bizarre.

That wasn't where his wacky food preferences ended though. He added, "I also love apple pie — without the fruit."

Thankfully, the rapper-turned-actor knows his way around the kitchen, and he has even recorded himself whipping up some tasty dishes from time to time. Whenever one of his odd food cravings kicks in, we're sure he can whip up his chocolate chip-less chocolate chip cookies and apple-less apple pies in no time. 

A brief retirement

Since he had been a formidable force in the music world since he released his first album at the age of 13, fans weren't the least bit surprised when Shad Moss experienced a bit of burnout. The rapper announced in August 2016 that he was officially retiring from the music game at the tender age of 29.

"'Retirement only means that it is time for a new adventure' over 10 million sold. This the last one. THANK YOU for the musical journey!" his Instagram caption read, in part.

To his diehard fans, they felt his farewell announcement was a bit premature, while others didn't blame him for wanting to hang up his microphone for good once they realized he was at peace with his decision. "Its [sic] a blessing to have made millions and can retire before 30. I mean I'm extremely happy," he tweeted.

After his announcement made headlines, it became apparent that Lil Bow Wow was just bluffing — or maybe he just happened to change his mind. By the time April 2018 rolled around, he was back in the studio, reinventing himself. "Decided to name my album 'EDICIUS' its SUICIDE backwards… the meaning means … To bring yourself back from something. The name represents relentlessness, coming back for more even after death. Left the old me and woke up a NEW ME," he tweeted.

The downside of early fame

After the rumor mill went into a flurry with whispers that the "Let Me Hold You" artist had fathered a child with a dancer named Joie Chavis, Lil Bow Wow took to his official website, Bow Wow Today (via Billboard), to not only confirming the rumors but to give a somber update. "For the past 3 years i been batteling [sic] life. Even thought about taking my own," he wrote, before adding, "I felt like as a kid I did everything and saw everything too fast which spoiled my adult years."

No wonder he has continuously flirted with the idea of bidding the industry adieu — like the time in April 2018 when he admitted he was fed up with the press. "In advance…… WE CAN CANCEL EVERY INTERVIEW. Idgaf. I like talking to the ones who matter my fans. Thats it. I'm not answering your questions. They don't give a f**k about me," he wrote in the caption of an Instagram video.

Let's recap: Because he experienced so much at such a young age, he became desensitized, which ruined his adulthood. He wouldn't be the first child star to struggle with these feelings, though. Thankfully, he would continue to give interviews following his rant about the media and a very special addition to his life would bring about a positive change… 

Fatherhood brought about some major changes

Some have called Lil Bow Wow corny, arrogant, and brash, but others saw him in a new light following the 2011 birth of his daughter, Shai Moss.

After saying his daughter "sparked a plug" in him, he told The Urban Daily, "I think before my daughter I was definitely doing this and that, out running around. I think that's why people look at me differently now even my fam is like, 'wassup you don't act the same.' I got a little me here now."

He also believed his overall personality had done a swift 180. "I definitely had an attitude change, an attitude adjustment. I'm more serious now. Nobody stays the same forever," he said.

Becoming a father at the age of 24 meant he had another priority in his life, and the focus was no longer on him. He wrote on his official website (via Billboard): "I felt as if I had no purpose to live (Thinking selfishly) until god gave me the illest gift of my life."

Who needs an acting coach anyway?

We've seen him flex his acting chops in 2011's Madea's Big Happy Family and on CSI: Cyber. There's no doubt Shad Moss has conquered something many child stars have failed to do: He made the transition from a young superstar to a bonafide, grownup entertainer. And he did so seamlessly. 

Having impressed us on the big and small screens, he told The Urban Daily, "I become the character. I've never had an acting coach, I never really plan on having one. I just always figured acting was supposed to come natural."

Seasoned entertainers may give him the side eye for bypassing traditional acting lessons, but Lil Bow Wow isn't entirely against rolling up his sleeves and putting in some work for the right role. "I think the only time I will prepare for a movie is when it's something out the box like if I had to speak with an accent or something," he said.

The one person he'll take advice from

It was Snoop Dogg (pictured, left) who gave Lil Bow Wow his big break when he was only 5 years old. The "Gin and Juice" rapper even featured Lil Bow Wow on his critically acclaimed 1993 album, Doggystyle. Then Jermaine Dupri stepped in to sign him to his So So Def Records label, which officially pushed the pint-sized artist into superstardom (via the New York Post).

Despite having been guided and mentored by two influential entertainers in the industry, Lil Bow Wow told The Urban Daily in 2011, "I think it's hard for anyone to give me advice, I've been doing it for so long. I'm kind of like a young veteran myself. What these rappers do, I've done it 3 times." 

But if he had to choose one person to continue to go to for advice, the rapper said Snoop Dogg is his main man, referring to the veteran artist as his "Hip-Hop OG."

Growing up without a dad

Lil Bow Wow was raised by a single mom, and  he continued to live under the same roof as her as recently as 2015, according to People magazine. But he always missed having a father figure in his life, so, in July 2017, he invited his estranged dad, Alfonso Moss, to be featured on an episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta"The idea of me talking to him was playing in my head for so long," he told theGrio. "I was gonna do it anyways, because I need it for my life."

He and his dad — whom Lil Bow Wow described as an alcoholic — attempted to repair their relationship, and Lil Bow Was appeared very forgiving. "I just wanted him to know I don't hate him. I outgrew that part. Once I had a kid and I've experienced some things with me and my daughter's mom and how we rock, I kinda understood why might have he ran out or why he wasn't around or why he left," he shared while discussing the heart-wrenching episode.

After his dad admitted that he hadn't stopped drinking, we weren't too surprised to learn that the rapper wasn't ready to fully allow him to be present in his life. "Even to this day, he reaches out but we still don't talk. I'm cool," he said.

A 'dark moment' nearly pushed him over the edge

Lil Bow Wow has made several references to self-harm over the years, but many didn't realize just how badly he was struggling until his 2016 interview with VladTV.

The rapper admitted that, after the release of his 2003 album, Unleashed, his life took a turn. "I was in a dark space. … Right around the third album, that's when I was just done," he said.

The feelings of despair didn't wane, and, by the time March 2018 approached, the Lottery Ticket actor appeared to be at his breaking point. "Sometimes I REALLY wish I never existed… I can never do S**T RIGHT EVEN WHEN IM DOING RIGHT! Im better off," he wrote in an Instagram caption.

With the April 2018 announcement that his forthcoming album would be entitled EDICIUS, which is "suicide" spelled backwards, fans became increasingly concerned about his wellbeing.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call or chat online with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Say no to drugs, kids

Shad Moss, or Lil Bow Wow, teamed up with R&B singer Omarion in 2007 for a collaborative album entitled Face Off that peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Despite the joint venture being a musical success, things weren't so rosy in the rapper's life.

Lil Bow Wow took to his Instagram in September 2018 to share a clip from the Face Off bonus DVD that included behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the album, including a clip of the rapper acting a bit off-kilter.

"Kids this is why drugs are not cool! I was so protected they never wanted the truth out. I was high off lean EVERY DAY EVERY SECOND of my life while doing this album with @omarion," he wrote, in part, in a caption over ten years after the release of the footage.

He also admitted that he was "high and sick" before one performance and was forced to cancel a show in Chicago. At the time, his public relations agent reportedly told the public he was dehydrated, but the artist said he was actually "f***ed up dying in the hospital," adding, "My body had too much codeine in it."

He ended his caption with some sage advice to his devoted fans: "STOP THE DRUGS STOP THE PILL POPPING. We want you here."