Lil Romeo
Son of Master P
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One of the more curious entries into the early-2000s teen pop explosion, Lil' Romeo shot straight to the top of the Billboard charts with his first single at the unheard-of age of only 11. Alongside Lil' Bow Wow, Romeo proved that a substantial market existed for clean-cut preteen rappers with cute looks and PG-rated rhymes. Many of his biggest hits interpolated popular songs from the past in the grand tradition of the most unabashed pop-rap. Of course, the young rapper didn't break into the rap game alone. Just as Jermaine Dupri had masterminded Bow Wow's success, Romeo owed much to his father, notorious rap mogul Master P. Given his father's reputation as a savvy businessman, it was perhaps no surprise when a substantial buzz surrounded the youngster before his debut single, "My Baby," even hit the airwaves. When it did hit, it hit big, topping the Hot 100 chart. In a strange twist of fate, Romeo's success helped revive his father's career, which had soured. The two became inseparable, often wearing the same outfits and even getting their own television show on Nickelodeon.

With a father and two uncles -- Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder -- who were all superstars during No Limit's mid- to late-'90s reign over the hardcore rap scene, Romeo grew up surrounded by rap. It wasn't until 2000 though that Master P seriously considered catapulting his son into the spotlight. Around this time, No Limit had quickly crumbled; not only had most of the label's roster been dismissed, but sales were undeniably dismal. It was clear that Master P needed a new direction, even if that meant moving away from the gangsta motifs that had initially made his label famous. At this same moment in time, a young preteen rapper by the name of Lil' Bow Wow was monopolizing the airwaves with his innocent raps and cute looks. Master P did what he has always done best: find what sells, create a generic version, release it, and market the hell out of it.

Though many, no doubt, scoffed at Master P's questionable choice to propel his son into the spotlight, it worked better than anyone could have predicted. First came the expected media-targeted hyperbole, with Master P comparing Romeo to Michael Jackson. Next came the lead single, "My Baby," a song that took no shame with its overt interpolation of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." Then came the results: the song quickly rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 before the album even hit the streets. Suddenly, Master P seemed relevant once again, thanks to his son, with an album that didn't even warrant a parental advisory sticker; once again proving that even if the Southern entrepreneur's reputation had been built through exploitation rather than aesthetics, he was surely one of rap's craftiest businessmen. ~ Jason Birchmeier, All Music Guide
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