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Pop Music Review

Rapper Lil' Bow Wow Plays Games With Youthful Audience

April 24, 2001|NATALIE NICHOLS

"When I say bow, y'all say wow," miniature rap star Lil' Bow Wow commanded his Wiltern Theatre audience during the first of two sold-out shows on Sunday.

"BOW!"

"WOW!" screamed back the mostly preschool-to-preadolescent fans, eager to connect with their 14-year-old hero. Some even sported homemade paw prints in homage to the Snoop Dogg protege, whose hit album "Beware of Dog" has yielded such hits as "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" and the No. 1 rap song "Bounce With Me."

The Columbus, Ohio, native (real name Shad Moss) didn't curse, but his material covered most of the gangsta-rap bases: money, girls and personal badness. Backed by a DJ and an MC, he rapped with pint-sized incisiveness, and his hard-faced demeanor was determinedly authentic. Yet he disappeared so often during the unevenly paced, cliche-ridden 50-minute set that it was hard to tell much more.

Though meant to be cute and harmless (but serious, ya hear?), some moments were worse than hearing a teeny-bop rapper swear. When the audience was asked to decide which of four young girls brought on stage deserved to have Bow Wow's big chestnut eyes locked on her during his tune "Puppy Love," one was actually booed, while others waggled their backsides at the crowd responded with disconcertingly practiced oomph. For a pretend playa, that was keeping it a little too real.

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