-- Shaheem Reid, with additonal reporting by Shari Scorca
It didn't take much to amp up the dozens of kids crammed into a New Jersey studio, waiting to see their hero Lil' Bow Wow. A little less than month before the December 18 release of his second album, Doggy Bag, the Columbus, Ohio, native performed his single "Thank You" and another potential hit, "Take Ya Home," for the NBA's "Inside Stuff" program.
The show's stage director doubled as a hype man, and it quickly became clear that he was far from the conventional hip-hop rabble rouser when he strung together the most elementary of rhymes. "Throw your hands in the air, yeah, yeah, yeah," the middle-aged, balding man implored.
"Will somebody get him off the mic?" "Inside Stuff" co-host Ahmad Rashad said, looking at a monitor in his dressing room while getting his makeup done. Rashad has been essential in getting the sports show to feature musical performances by acts like 'NSYNC and 112, and he's especially pleased to have Lil' Bow Wow on.
"I have a 14-year-old daughter, so I really know how that works," Rashad said of the kids chanting Bow's name in anticipation of his arrival. "It's kinda cool to have a star like Bow Wow on our show. He's a talented young man."
About 30 minutes later, the kids were swaying back and forth as Bow Wow started displaying his star power, rapping, "The reason I'm seen is because of you/ The reason I'm heard and my dreams came true/ Now if you ever made a poster, or wrote a fan letter/ All I'm tryin' do is show you some L-O-V-E" during "Thank You."
"'Thank You' is discussing my first time out with Beware of Dog. ... [It's for] everybody who gave me love," he explained later. "It was real important for me to come back out that way. I wanted to let everybody know how much I appreciate all the love. All the little gifts the girls are giving me and all the crying and the hugs and all that stuff." [RealVideo]
The girls in the studio that day weren't so caught up in the rapture that they were bawling for Bow's performance they were too busy dancing to the uptempo beat the Neptunes provided for "Take Ya Home."