I heard that you and your daughter were best friends?
The question — initially posed as an icebreaker to Shad “Bow Wow” Moss — was met with a long, thoughtful pause, followed by a huge grin that could rival even the jolliest of Cheshire cats. And as if the smile wasn’t enough, the answer that followed thoroughly shed light on the rapper-actor’s life view as a father.
“I can’t lie man, that’s my best friend,” he assured me. “Every father should make sure that he becomes best friends with his daughter.”
And there you have it: Bow Wow 2.0
The sentiment served as a gentle reminder that the man before us is no longer a child prodigy. No, this is a man who has made a conscious decision to be settled in his life; first as a good father, and soon to be as a husband.
He was very open about both topics during his visit to rolling out’s Atlanta studio for his Father’s Day-inspired photo shoot. Here are a few of the memorable moments from that day.
Most people don’t know you got your start when you were only 5 years old. Does it feel like you’ve been in the game for 23 years now?
No. Not really. To me it doesn’t feel like I’ve been in the game that long until I really break down the years. I guess the only reason I don’t feel it is because I’m doing the work. People try to break it down for me, but I just don’t see it. In a way, it keeps me humble. To an outsider, it’s been 23 years, but to me it feels like three. My life is so fast-paced, so I really don’t feel it. Yesterday, I looked up and I had braids with no mustache. Today, I look up and I’m tatted up and no braids and a beard.
Do you ever want to slow down?
Absolutely not. The most successful people in this business that are on top of the Forbes list have two things about them: They are crazy as hell, and they don’t sleep. I understand what that means. Not saying that’s some safe s— to do, but you have to be crazy to be up for two days straight. And I’m not saying you have to be on anything. It’s just the high of wanting to win, wanting to be the best, and it’s about who wants to make the most money.
Speaking of wanting to be the best, you continue to expand your resume, now with a role on a CBS staple. What was it like walking onto the “CSI: Cyber” set?
Well. for me, I didn’t feel any type of way. See, the thing about Hollywood is that a lot of cats feel you have to change and you don’t. A lot of cats go into these meetings with top directors and executives not being who they are. Nobody likes people who are fake, so what I mean by that is when I got to “CSI,” I never stopped being Bow Wow. You’re going to love me for who I am. I’m still going to be high energy. I’m still going to be having fun, and I’m still going to be dancing. My cast members will tell you that “Bow comes on the set with the most energy.” I’m still going to be clowning. That’s how I work, so when I stepped on set, I said in order for this to really work they have to respect and accept me for who I am. I understand that I’m the only Black person that’s cast. I understand I’m the young rapper with tattoos. I understand that I probably won’t have that many chances if I get in trouble. I understand all this stuff and I approach every job understanding that.
How do you feel Hollywood handles African American talent that gets into legal issues?
This is corporate America. Hollywood is a little different. If I was just a rapper I could get away with going to jail. That’s a part of a rapper that just makes you cool — fighting, and turning up. But they cut those real checks in Hollywood, and there is a no tolerance. One and you’re done.
But these guys are your peers. Do you ever talk to them, so that they can share a similar mindset?
At the end of the day, these are grown men. You can talk to them once as a friend, but they are grown. It’s not my place to tell them how to live their lives.
Let’s switch gears a bit to focus on your personal life. With all of the amazing things currently in play in your life, you could have really embraced a playboy lifestyle. What made you want to settle down with Erica Mena at this juncture in your life?
I could have easily been the Black Hugh Hefner. Erica would be the first to tell you that “Bow is Bow.” I still uphold that young, flashy, on-the-scene lifestyle. That’s never going to leave. But for me, I just follow life and life just hit me differently this time. With me starting at 5, I might be 28, but really I’m 40 years old in entertainment years. So when people are asking why I’m slowing down, the truth is, I’ve had everything. There isn’t a woman that has ever been on camera, ever been interviewed, or ever been on the red carpet that I haven’t been in contact with. So, I’m done with all of that. They say you’re supposed to get it out and live your life. At this point in my life, all of that is boring, and that was when I knew it was time … it just felt right for me and Erica to take that step. Also, I wanted to focus on being the best father that I could be, because my father definitely wasn’t a good father. I want to have time for [my daughter] whenever she needs me. So all of this works together to allow me to have some stability in my life so I can focus on what I need to do.
How has having a daughter changed you?
Having my daughter has helped me put a lot of things into perspective. I’m still who I am, though. You can look up a video today and still see me pouring champagne, Patron, or any vodka into people’s mouths in any club [around] the world. That’s how daddy gets the money to bring home to my daughter. But, I’m more respectful now. Looking at my little girl, I really have tunnel vision. How could I ever let her down? She’s my best friend, and I’ve been waiting for her to finally get to this age [4 years old]. Now, she can come to work with me and just be chilling. I love it.
I wanted to focus on being the best father that I could be, because my father definitely wasn’t a good father.
What’s the biggest challenge of balancing fatherhood with your career?
I shared a post not too long ago where Jermaine [Dupri] and I were promoting the new single “Where You At,” and my daughter was with me a full day. I went through a whole day of radio, while my daughter was sick. We drove an hour away, and not one time did she cry or act up. It just made me think that I will never get a nanny. I’m going to raise my kids. I don’t need someone to raise my kids. I just feel like, as a father, I just want to spend all that time with my daughter. So I keep her with me now. She’s of age and it’s fun, and its not hard to keep her with me. It’s nothing hard about being a father, but it’s a 24-hour job and it never stops. If she Facetimed me right now, I would have to stop this interview. There’s no excuse to not be there for your kids.
There are many Hollywood fathers that can’t have the same type of relationship that you are describing due to bad blood with the mother of their child. How is the relationship with your child’s mother?
I am just thankful that I’ve never had that, and that I don’t have to go through that. I think at times us men have to take responsibility [for why our baby’s mamas go crazy. We do a lot of s— that even if it’s not your baby’s mama, it can make them go crazy. You can make your girlfriend go crazy or your fiancée go crazy. I look at both sides of what you did and what I did and I am going to be accountable for everything I did because as the man, and the leader, I understand that if she wilds out it’s because of me. So I don’t have those problems, because I take care of my business. It’s really simple. All you have to do is show up and do what you said you were going to do and you should have no baby mama drama.
But we all mess up, and fall short in life. So if there are times when you mess us when it comes your fiancée and your daughter, how hard is it for you to say you’re sorry?
It’s very easy, because I’m real, honest and very blunt. I could be arguing with somebody about something I did, and I’ll admit to my faults and own up to it. So I can easily say I’m sorry. I like admitting to my mistakes. I think that’s what makes you a great human being.
What’s the one thing that you are most proud of?
Doing the things for my daughter that I wish happened for me when I was growing up. It’s not the plaques, movies or the money. It’s the little things like doing my daughter’s ponytail in the morning, or rushing out the door to get her to school on time. It’s the normal stuff in life that I’m most proud of.