Lil’ Bow Wow isn’t the only pup in Jermaine Dupri’s kiddy litter.
Lil’ Johnny is also barking up a name for himself as the latest teen act from the prolific Atlanta producer. Dupri produced four songs, including the sexy title track, on Johnny’s debut album, I Got You, scheduled to arrive in stores July 10.
Fans who can’t wait until July to catch Johnny may catch him as one of the opening acts on Bow Wow’s kidcentric tour, which also features Lil’ Zane and B2K.
Working with Dupri was a coup for 16-year-old Johnny.
“The label signed me, had my demo and was picking different producers for me to work with,” said Johnny, who is in Los Angeles this week to shoot the video for “I Got You” with Dupri. “Somebody came up with Jermaine, even though we didn’t think we’d get him. But we did so it turned out hot.”
Johnny also feels fortunate to be touring with Bow Wow and friends. “I didn’t think I would enjoy riding on the bus, but I do,” he said. “I love being in the bunk and closing the blinds and going to sleep. Plus, me and my dancers play PlayStation 2 and watch movies and stuff. I like road tripping.”
But the road isn’t a vacation. A tutor travels with Johnny, helping him stay on track with his high school studies.
Johnny said the second single from his forthcoming album would either be the Dupri-produced “Please” or “You Can’t Be Serious,” which features Lil’ Zane. Another strong cut on the 13-track collection, the game show-inspired “Wheel of Fortune,” was also on “The Brothers”‘ soundtrack.
Although Johnny worked with producers who provided direction for the young singer, his lyrical input determined the album’s subject matter: teenage infatuation.
Johnny’s work ethic likely derives from his early music-biz experience. When the Flint, Michigan, native was 11, he recorded a demo with local producer Corey Peterson. Less than two years later he signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. and has been working on his debut album since.
“I’ve been recording the entire time, trying to come up with the right album,” Johnny said. “We had some songs in the wrong spots and other songs didn’t quite fit the album. Now the album flows. You can listen to it the whole way through without skipping any songs.”
Lil’ Johnny appreciates his position in the spotlight.
“It only took a few months for us to shop my demo and for me to get picked up,” he said. “I’ve really been blessed.”