New Jack City II (So So Def/Columbia)
Nine years ago, Shad Gregory Moss seemed to have a tight grip on a nation’s worth of training bras. With the release of his debut album Beware of Dog (Columbia), the then thirteen-year-old was pubescent and ready for puppy love. Bow Wow established his wholesome ‘n’ hood persona early in 2000, but since then has been determined to blind any sight of a child-star stigma. Now at twenty-two, he’s old enough to buy (and beef) about Lamborghinis. But with his seventh studio album, New Jack City II (Columbia), it’s unclear if Bow Weezy’s really ready to drive into his peers’ lanes.
Whether it’s his squeaky clean past, or fragile frame, it sounds like Bow Wow is overcompensating. The majority of his set is soaked in materialism and machismo, when in contrast it might have been best to showcase personal rather than bankable growth. On the catchy “I Aint Playing” featuring Trey Songz, Bow boasts, “In the club now / Tatted up / Tank top / Standing on the couch screaming / Who bank I can’t stop?” The Napoleon complex doesn’t stop there, as Bow joins Ron Browz and Nelly for a “money walk” on “What They Call Me” and later links with Swizz Beats to keep the ladies “pantin’ and drippin’” on the zippy “Shake It.”
When Bow does include a speck of retrospection it instantly becomes the album’s high point. “Roc the Mic,” with mentor Jermaine Dupri, has the two father and son as they reminisce about their early success. While “Been Doing This” is another credible coming-of-age track, displaying Bow’s signature bounce and a scholar-like T.I. But these moments of insight and humility are rare.
It’s obvious that Bow can buy anything he wants. The hottest feature guests, the most stunning of groupies, another Lambo—still, New Jack City II reveals it’s hardest to buy respect.
1. “Get That Paper”
2. “What They Call Me” feat. Ron Browz & Nelly
3. “Roc The Mic” feat. Jermaine Dupri
4. “Been Doin’ This” feat. T.I.
5. “You Can Get It All” feat. Johnta Austin
7. “Like This” feat. Dondria & Johnta Austin
8. “She’s My” feat. T-Pain
9. “I Ain’t Playing” feat. Trey Songz
10. “Pole In My Basement”
11. Shake It feat. Swizz Beatz
12. “Big Girls” feat. Yung Joc
13. Marco Polo” feat. Soulja Boy
14. “Anything You Can Do”