NEW YORK (AP) -- If there were any doubts that Bow Wow is all grown up, his new CD — which comes with a parental advisory sticker — will drive the point home.

The 22-year-old rapper says "New Jack City II" shows his growth, from the amount of control he had on it to the lyrical content.

He's also growing as an actor. He returns to HBO's "Entourage" this summer and appears in the Hurricane Katrina-inspired basketball drama, "Hurricane Season," with Forest Whitaker, Taraji P. Henson and Lil Wayne, later this year.

In a recent interview, he talked about executive producing his new CD, keeping his cool and why he thinks he'll win an Oscar before a Grammy.

AP: You used to be known as Lil Bow Wow. Do you feel like you've officially ventured away from the kid rapper image?

Bow Wow: I told myself that I would never force it upon people to make them think or make them believe that I'm grown (and) I said I'll just do it all through my music and that's something I always preach. I never acted out with my actions to show people that I'm getting grown, you never see me with a cigarette, or see me wilding out or doing anything like that.

AP: Did you ever wish you didn't grow up in the media?

Bow Wow: Not at all. Everything happens for a reason. I'm just one of the chosen few that actually grew up in the limelight and maintained and still be normal.

AP: What's been the most challenging part about it?

Bow Wow: Trying your best not to get stressed out, the hardest part is not to get down, not to let the business get to you. I think the business is more mental than it is talent. I think you can have the talent, but if you don't have it up here, I think you can easily just break down. That's why you see so many artists just go crazy (and people ask), "Why's he doing that? Why is he on drugs? Why? ..." Because the business can drive you to do that if you don't have it here. If you're not strong-minded here, it could steer you the wrong way and when it steers you the wrong way, then it might take forever to get back.

AP: What else do you want to do in your career?

Bow Wow: Take over the world if I can. I'm pretty much happy with the things that have been handed to me already. Seven albums, eight arena tours ... I think there's nothing I really would look forward to besides winning a Grammy one day if that would happen.

AP: Or an Oscar, right?

Bow Wow: I think I have a better chance at getting an Oscar before a Grammy.

AP: Why so?

Bow Wow: Because the music industry is so fickle, there's so many politics. I think a lot of people don't pay attention to the credits or the artistry no more. I think there's so much concern about what's going on right now instead of the actual artistry. But that's how the record business is, but for acting, I got that covered.


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