NEW YORK — It was hard to tell whether the kids who filled up J&R Music and Computer World in lower Manhattan were in line for the principal's office or to see Bow Wow on Tuesday. Teenage girls were crying, trembling, holding their hands over their mouths in disbelief, and one was shaking so hard she could barely hold onto a photograph.
This is the type of pandemonium Bow Wow has been evoking as of late. Regardless of album sales or other players, the 18-year-old has been the champion of his age bracket, and in NYC, he couldn't have asked for a better reception as he promoted his new LP, Wanted.
"This one is big," Bow said of the album. He was upstairs at the store conducting interviews and taking pictures with a few radio contest winners — and yes, a few of the young ladies actually burst into tears upon meeting him.
"Everybody at Sony says it's capable of being the biggest record I ever put out," Bow continued. "The only thing I can do is try not to think about it. It's a lot of hype built around the record. Thanks to my fans, I have the #1 rap song in the country. Hopefully I'll have the #1 rap album in the country. I would love to have that. I'm just blessed.
After taking photos with fans and eating some pizza and KFC, Bow was ready for a performance across the street at City Hall Park. But a performer of his magnitude couldn't simply walk several feet to the park; there was no way he would have made it there with all the fans outside ready to mob him. So he had to sneak out the side door and drive over in a black Escalade. Cheers of "Bow Wow, Bow Wow" drowned out every car radio in the vicinity.
"That's how it is, it's just love," he said. "It's just something about me. I don't know what it is."
When Bow got onstage for a short set at the park, no song roused the thousands of spectators — some whom had been waiting for as long as five hours — more than his current single, "Let Me Hold You."
|Photos: Check out backstage Bow Wow Pictures from his Manhattan performance and in-store on Tuesday.|
After the show, Bow went back to J&R to sign more autographs. And he was wanted, indeed.
"My name is Melissa and I've loved you since the sixth grade," one girl said. "Can I get a handshake?"
Another young woman had three little kids with her. Two of the children were so small their heads could barely reach above the table; the other had to be carried in the arms of her mom.
"Bow Wow, are you a basketball player?" one of the tykes asked.
"I play basketball," he answered.
"He's going to be my husband," another crying female named Veronica yelled to her friend, letting the whole store in on her delusion of grandeur.
Veronica's homie had taken off one of her Tims for Bow to sign, but the rapper's bodyguard doused her hopes.
"Put your shoe on," he told the girl.
"Please. He's gotta sign my shoe," she answered, tears pouring down her face.
"No, he's not signing your shoe," the bodyguard replied. "Put it on."
"I'm so mad you go out with Ciara, but as long as you happy, I'm happy," Veronica said once she got up to Bow, who wound up signing her friend's arm instead of her boot.
"The fans be like, 'Why he always gotta leave? Why does he leave so long?' " Bow said after the signing. "People don't understand that when I leave, I'm still working. They wanted me back, something was missing. ... It's like a marriage. It's like when the wifey don't return home, you wondering where she at. Your mind starts wandering. I'm wanted. I said I have to come back. It's about time."
The New York show and in-store were just a taste of what's in store for Bow this summer. He kicks off the fourth installment of the Scream Tour, also featuring Omarion, B5, Pretty Ricky, Marques Houston and Bobby Valentino, July 20 in Trenton, New Jersey (see "Bow Wow, Omarion Team Up For Single And Scream IV Tour").
"We ain't wasting no time," Bow said. "We can't. That's the thing me and my management came up with; drop the album a week before the tour. It's something different we gonna do. I had a lot of people doubting me. A lot of people didn't want to go on tour with me when we first brought up the Scream IV Tour. A lot of people was skeptical."
If the fanfare surrounding Tuesday's events was any indication, that skepticism has long since evaporated.