Romeo believes he's a grownass man. He's certainly not 'lil' anymore, peaked at #5 on VIBE Vixen's Sexiest Rapper Alive list, is cutting checks as No Limit Records new HMIC and is still humble enough to potentially embarrass himself as a contestant on Dancing With The Stars. Sounds like a beddable bachelor to us. VIBE caught up with the fetching 21-year-old to pick his brain on his new sex symbol status, why he's a qualified president, how 30-somethings can catch his attention and advice for Diggy, Willow and Bieber.—Tracy Garraud
VIBE: I interviewed Yung Berg recently and he said dropping the 'Lil' or 'Young' in your name shows insecurity. Is that true for you?
Romeo: I think it's just a growing up phase. I started in the business young and I just felt Lil Romeo was who I was when I was younger. Just like if you're younger you may have a nickname like Lil Boo Boo, but I always had the camera on my life so people got used to that. But I guarantee over 99% of the people in the world were called something else when they were younger and I felt that was my younger stage. Now I made this transition where I do want to tackle this adult entertainment world and Lil Romeo is just a phase in life. It's not a big deal to me. I'm not one of those people that get mad like, "Oh don't you call me Lil Romeo!" Professionally it's just Romeo now.
Understandable. You're one of the few artists to actually go to high school and then a university. You could've just been home schooled and stuck with entertainment. What made you stay in class?
First, my dad. He made me not worry about money as much. Second, I never looked up to rappers. I looked up to people like Martin Luther King and Barack Obama and saw where their education took them. I realized after high school that those four years went by so fast and that I'm only young once so I wanted to experience the college life and get the college education. I wanted to have no regrets. I just felt that college was going to make me an all around better person.
When was the decision made for you to take over No Limit Records?
I always compare me and my dad to a king and a prince. I always felt my dad was preparing me for something bigger. It happened four months ago. I was told that he was going to pass the business down to me.
Your father's not on grand-daddy status yet. Why did he want to pass it down to you now?
Me and my dad relationship got a lot closer since I went to college. Being a man you start realizing you and your dad's similarities and you start really appreciating him. Then he started realizing my strengths and my weaknesses and found out that I was really ready for the business no matter what my age was. I don't see myself as the average 21-year-old. My dad is my best friend. I was in meetings with him every day. It was just a timing thing and the time is right now.
Got you. I think the first criticism with this role is that you're controlling artists' careers at such a young age.
I've been in this business for 11 years and like I say I don't care how old you are, if you know you're capable of something and you feel like you can handle the pressure, go do it. If I always thought my age was holding me back, I wouldn't be where I am today. People said I wouldn't be able to have a number one song at the age of 10 and I did that. I'm the youngest artist with a number one song ever. Michael Jackson is second. When I became successful at the age, it was when kids weren't as successful like they are now. With that being said, I always had the mind frame that I'm not going to let my age hold me back. That I can do anything if I'm prepared for it and if I've been studying just like anybody else.
Is the sound of No Limit going to change? Is there a Euro-pop song that would come out of No Limit?