Lil' Bow Wow's Keepin' It Real Clean

Thirteen-year-old rapper rhymes about his basketball skills, being on Soul Train, on platinum debut, Beware of Dog.

Lil' Bow Wow watches what he spits.

Unlike some other rappers, who revel in profanity, the 13-year-old takes a stand against offensive lyrics.

"I do have a responsibility, and that is to always stay positive like I am,'' Lil' Bow Wow said. "I don't curse, so [fans] can just listen to the album. That's my main thing ... to say focused and positive.''

On his platinum debut LP, Beware of Dog (So So Def/Columbia), Lil' Bow Wow rhymes about such topics as his basketball skills and being on Soul Train.

"I have to stay positive for the younger fans,'' Lil' Bow Wow said. "I do have a job, and that's to maintain that image.''

Lil' Bow Wow's current single, "Bow Wow (That's My Name),'' is at #55 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

"[Lil' Bow Wow's] keeping it clean so far, and he's being creative, rhyming about situations,'' said urban music impresario B. Bernard Brown. "Being a child he has to keep his music clean, because no one's going to accept a kid cursing it up.''

The young rapper was dubbed Lil' Bow Wow by Snoop Dogg, when as a 6-year old, he got a chance to perform on Snoop's 1993 Chronic Tour stop in Columbus, Ohio, Lil' Bow Wow's hometown.

Lil' Bow Wow was such a hit Snoop had him open the rest of the tour.

In 1998 a Snoop Dogg associate sent Atlanta producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri a tape of Lil' Bow Wow. Dupri was responsible for the backward-pants-wearing teen act Kriss Kross in the early 1990s.

Dupri became the executive producer of Beware of Dog, and Snoop Dogg, Xscape, Jagged Edge, R.O.C. and Da Brat contributed performances.

Despite his young age, Lil' Bow Wow distinguishes himself as an advanced rapper who uses melody and inflection.

"I just created my own style, really,'' Lil' Bow Wow said.

Dupri, Da Brat and others wrote Lil' Bow Wow's material on Beware of Dog, a situation he said will change on his follow-up.

"I'm going to be writing my next album,'' Lil' Bow Wow said. "It's going to be similar, but hopefully we're going to make it better. Every time I sit down to write a rap, I'm going to try to make it better, so hopefully I'm going to make this album better than the first one.''

Lil' Bow Wow, who has performed selected dates around the country, is planning a tour, but he wouldn't disclose details yet.

In the meantime, he's keeping himself busy with television appearances and his studies at Reynoldsburgh Junior High in Columbus.

"School is #1 with me,'' Lil' Bow Wow said. "I'm always going to stay in school.''

The young rapper also plays plenty of hoops. His favorite play is to sink a three-pointer, but he's also a multi-talented player.

"I'm a shooter, but they put me at point guard,'' Lil' Bow Wow said.