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Unleashed
     

Unleashed

by Bow Wow
 
From the sound of his more mature third disc, Bow Wow no longer wants to be a Toys "R" Us kid. Although the 16-year-old dropped the "Lil' " from his rap moniker after his silver-screen debut in 2002's surprise hit Like Mike, on Unleashed Bow Wow reinforces his desire to break free from his squeaky-clean, adolescent image

Overview

From the sound of his more mature third disc, Bow Wow no longer wants to be a Toys "R" Us kid. Although the 16-year-old dropped the "Lil' " from his rap moniker after his silver-screen debut in 2002's surprise hit Like Mike, on Unleashed Bow Wow reinforces his desire to break free from his squeaky-clean, adolescent image with booming beats and reflective lyrics such as "I step to a new day, a new age, and a new page" ("I'll Move On," featuring R&B heartthrob Mario). And while he may not be down with Jermaine Dupri's So So Def camp anymore, Atlanta producer Jazze Pha does a fine job providing the teen rapper with a consistently danceable sound sure to keep the young 'uns shaking their tail feathers on several tracks, including the bass-heavy "I Can't Lose" and the jiggy lead single, "Let's Get Down," featuring Cash Money's Baby. Also helping Bow Wow pull off his street-credible makeover are the omnipresent Neptunes -- who lend their beat wizardry to the aforementioned "I'll Move On" and the old-school rap reminiscent "The Don, The Dutch" -- and Swizz Beatz, who puts his frenetic stamp on "Get It Poppin'." Despite being in a rush to grow up, Bow Wow is still a proud mama's boy, and he pays tribute to his "best friend" on the poignant "To My Mama," featuring Mary J. Blige sound-alike Amerie. That track proves that while Bow Wow wants to be Unleashed, this pup never strays far from home.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jason Birchmeier
A lot more changed for Bow Wow between his second and third albums (Doggy Bag and Unleashed, respectively) than his name. The formerly "lil" rapper starred in a Hollywood film, Like Mike (2002), and changed labels, leaving behind the hitmaking expertise of Jermaine Dupri and So So Def Records for the free-range pastures of Columbia Records. Moreover, the teenage rapper's voice changed noticeably and he decided to project a more grown-up attitude. He also changed his musical style -- while Doggy Bag had been a grab bag of pop-rap interpolations (appropriating everything from New Edition to the Cars), Unleashed lets loose esteemed contemporary rap producers like Swizz Beatz, Jazzy Pha, and Lil Jon. The result is unsurprisingly a very contemporary-sounding album, for better or worse. Bow Wow certainly no longer sounds like the pop-rapper that he began as, now that he's rapping alongside Baby from the Big Tymers on "Let's Get Down" and spitting tough game over DMX-worthy Ruff Ryder beats on "Get It Poppin'." But that candy-coated pop-ness was what had made Bow Wow so novel in the first place -- "Bounce Wit Me" certainly wouldn't have sounded as fun as it did without a kid rapping it, nor would "Take Ya Home" have sounded so adorable had a thug-pimp rapped it. That's the dilemma faced by Bow Wow and company on Unleashed: retain the kid-rap novelty (which can only be done for so long) or succumb to genre (which is inevitable). Curiously, Unleashed wants to have it both ways. The gratuitous sex, drugs, violence, and profanity that characterize most popular rap is largely absent, yet so are the "lil" aspects that made Bow Wow so darn cute in the first place. So, what you get are songs like "Let's Get Down," which is kid-code for "Let's Get It On," and songs like "Hey Little Momma," which is a PG-rated version of Cam'ron's similarly themed (yet far more explicit) hit from the year before, "Hey Ma." For sure, Unleashed is a transitional album for Bow Wow, yet it's a satisfying one -- and an interesting one at that, as you get to hear the superstar teen carefully walk the fine line between teen pop (à la the Jackson 5) and the streets (à la 50 Cent).

Product Details

Release Date:
08/19/2003
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0696998710320
catalogNumber:
87103

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bow Wow   Primary Artist
Charles Pettaway   Guitar
Toya McKinney   Background Vocals
Tameka Cottle   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

John Frye   Engineer
J.C. Phillips   Composer
Mike "Hitman" Wilson   Engineer
Kris Feldman   Art Direction
Jazze Pha   Producer
Jonathon "Lil' Jon" Smith   Producer
Josh Butler   Engineer
R. Harrell   Composer
Swizz Beatz   Producer
Bink   Programming,Producer
C. Harris   Composer
Andrew Coleman   Engineer
Bow Wow   Executive Producer
R.L. Griffin   Composer
Frank Carbonari   Graphic Design
Kasseem Dean   Composer
Shilla Benning   Groomer
Bam Bowser   Producer
Ryan Bowser   Producer
Teresa Caldwell   Executive Producer,Groomer
Derek Delay   Engineer
Steve Fisher   Engineer
Brian Stanley   Engineer

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