Unleashed (Bow Wow album)

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Bow Wow - Unleashed album cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 19, 2003
GenreHip hop
ProducerBow Wow, Teresa Caldwell, Bink!, The Neptunes, Jazze Pha, Swizz Beatz, Lil Jon
Bow Wow chronology
Doggy Bag
Singles from Unleashed
  1. "Let's Get Down"
    Released: June 24, 2003
  2. "My Baby"
    Released: 2003

Unleashed is the third studio album by American rapper Bow Wow. It was released on August 19, 2003, by Columbia Records. Recording sessions for the album took place from 2002 to 2003. The album features guest appearances from Amerie, Baby, Mario and Jagged Edge, with its production handled by Bink!, The Neptunes, Jazze Pha, Swizz Beatz and Lil Jon, among others. It is Bow Wow's first album without assistance or production from his mentor Jermaine Dupri, and where he dropped the 'Lil' from his stage name after his film debut in Like Mike (2002).

Unleashed received mixed reviews from critics, who felt that despite the changes in flow, production and lyrics, Bow Wow didn't distinguish himself enough to stand out from other rappers. The album debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 129,000 copies in the United States.[1] It was supported by two singles: "Let's Get Down" and "My Baby". The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with excess shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States.


Following the release of his sophomore album Doggy Bag (2001), Lil' Bow Wow achieved minor success on the Top R&B Singles charts, with "Thank You" and "Take Ya Home". In 2002, after finishing production on his debut film Like Mike and releasing his cover of "Basketball" for the film's soundtrack, Bow Wow chose to drop the "Lil" from his name completely and continue his career simply as Bow Wow. In an interview with MTV, he said that he wanted to distinguish himself from the other rappers, who had the word in their moniker:

"All these Lil’ rappers, I’m just kind of getting real irritated by it. I said, 'You know what? Drop the Lil'. Forget it. I’m Bow Wow.' Besides, I’m growing up, I’m not little anymore. [I just decided] two weeks ago. I really got irritable. It’s all these Lil’ cats, forget it. I’m Bow Wow now. Everything is just 'Bow Wow,' no 'Lil' Bow Wow.'"[2]

In an interview with Billboard, he spoke about the album's content, saying that he wanted his fans to follow him on the journey that he has started three years ago with a new sound and different lyrical content that defines his growing maturity.[3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

T.I. had a ghostwriting credit on the album.

The lead single, titled "Let's Get Down", which was co-written by a then unknown, Clifford Harris (aka T.I.). Bow Wow talked with Billboard on wanting to make an impact, after changing his name and wanting to work with rapper Baby, saying that he was looking for a single that would grab people's attention and that Baby's inclusion almost didn't happen but then changed his mind to work with him on the song.[3] In September 2003, in an interview with website Whudat, T.I. talked about his contribution to Bow Wow's third album and the song itself:

"Yeah this time around I wrote some songs for him. Even on the single, 'Let's Get Down'. I wrote the third verse and the hook. Usually how we did it was [Jazze Pha] he'll write one verse, Bow Wow would write one verse, his homeboy Rocka would write one, and I'd write a verse and come up with the hook."[4]

In 2009, in an interview with HipHopDX, Bow Wow commented on how getting T.I. to ghostwrite for him on his third album didn't tarnish his credibility as a rapper, saying that he learned about the songwriting process by contributing about 85 percent to the album while T.I. wrote a full song and a couple verses to a few tracks.[5]

"Eighteen", which was produced by Lil Jon, is described as a coming-of-age song, where Bow Wow is proclaiming some things that he wants to do when he reaches that milestone age.[6] "My Baby" is an emotional song that has him comforting a friend dealing with a broken heart.[6] Bow Wow described on this Neptunes-produced track "The Don, The Dutch" as "the '2Pac record'" that'll surprise listeners not expecting it.[3] Another Neptunes track "I'll Move On", has him asking his fans to let him grow up into adulthood and not overthink the decisions he makes as he progresses.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[7]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[10]
Vibe3/5 stars[11]

The album received generally mixed reviews from music critics who appreciated the maturity in the production and lyrics but felt that Bow Wow hasn't found a style that defines him. Steve 'Flash' Juon of RapReviews praised the album for being consistent with its beats and Bow Wow for changing his lyrical tone saying, "By maturing his musical sound along with his voice, he successfully sheds the "Lil" image for good and makes an effective play for establishing his longevity in the business."[9] Donnie Kwak of Vibe said that Bow Wow manages to by past formulas with his mature flow and display his sensitive side on "I'll Move On" concluding that, "Because he's willing to embrace his growing pains, Bow Wow's future is promising."[11] Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic commented on how the album manages to straddle the line between Bow Wow's previous pop rap material and his new mature hip hop image.[7] Despite changing his flow and lyrics and experimenting with new beats, People felt that Bow Wow "has yet to really develop his own style and sometimes regresses to playing to the kiddie crowd."[8]

Track listing[edit]

1."Get It Poppin'"
Swizz Beatz3:28
2."Let's Get Down" (featuring Baby)Jazze Pha4:11
Lil Jon4:50
4."Follow Me"Bink!3:53
5."My Baby" (featuring Jagged Edge)
  • Bam
  • Bowser
6."The Don, The Dutch"The Neptunes3:57
7."The Movement"
  • Moss
  • Griffin
  • Williams
The Neptunes3:56
8."I Can't Lose"
  • Moss
  • Alexander
  • Griffin
Jazze Pha4:02
9."Hey Little Momma" (featuring Jagged Edge)
Jazze Pha3:38
10."I Got Ya'll"
  • Moss
  • Bowser
  • Harris, Jr.
  • Macon
  • Bam
  • Bowser
11."I'll Move On" (featuring Mario)
  • Griffin
  • Harris
  • Williams
The Neptunes4:06
12."To My Mama" (featuring Amerie)Lil Jon5:17
13."I'm Back"L.T. Hutton3:48


Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Harris, Chris (July 20, 2005). "R. Kelly Fights Off Slim Thug And Bow Wow To Hold #1". MTV. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Reid, Shaheem (April 4, 2002). "Bow Wow Drops The Lil', Collars Tour Dates". MTV. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Hall, Rashaun (August 16, 2003). "Bow Wow Unleashed". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 115: 15–17. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  4. ^ "T.I. - interview". whudat.com. September 2003. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  5. ^ Arnold, Paul W. (January 19, 2009). "Bow Wow Talks New Album, T.I. Ghostwriting". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Reid, Shaheem (June 5, 2003). "Bow Wow For 'President'?". MTV. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Birchmeier, Jason. "Unleashed - Bow Wow". AllMusic. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Picks and Pans Review: Unleashed". People. Time Inc. September 15, 2003. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Juon, Steve 'Flash' (September 9, 2003). "Bow Wow :: Unleashed :: Columbia Records". RapReviews. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  10. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved 2012-12-03.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. ^ a b Kwak, Donnie (September 2003). "Bow Wow 'Unleashed'". Vibe. Vibe Media. 11 (9): 288. ISSN 1070-4701. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  12. ^ "Unleashed - Bow Wow | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  13. ^ "Bow Wow Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  14. ^ "Bow Wow Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  15. ^ "American album certifications – Bow Wow – Unleashed". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 7, 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  16. ^ "Year-End Charts: Billboard 200 Albums - 2003". Billboard. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  17. ^ "Year-End Charts: R&B/Hip-Hop Albums - 2003". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2015.