Apr 20, 2013

L'il Romeo, Big Romeo

Born in 1989, L'il Romeo was a preteen rapper, releasing singles and albums beginning in 2001.  His lyrics were similar to those of big rappers, except G-rated: bragging about his bling, evaluating girlies, representing his hood.  But without the foul language we see in rappers like the New Boyz.

He broke into acting at the same time, in Max Keeble's Big Move (2001).  After several more movie and tv roles, he got his own tv series on Nickelodeon, Romeo! (2003-2006), about an aspiring rapper whose family  is in his band.   Louis Testaverde (Noel Callahan) was his adopted brother and best friend.

By 2006, the 17-year old was no longer little, so he began going by Romeo or Romeo Miller. He starred in some low-budget videos along with his father, rapper Master P, which inadvertently produced some older-younger gay subtexts.

Don't Be Scared (2006): a serial killer targets college students.
Uncle P (2007): a boy discovers that his estranged uncle is a famous rap artist.
The Pig People (2009), about college students seeking elusive monsters in the woods.

Surprising for a rap artist who sings frequently about women, Romeo's characters often express minimal heterosexual interest. In "Royal Angel," a 2011 episode of Charlie's Angels, he plays the son of an assassinated African king who is too busy adjusting to his new responsibilities to think much about girls.

 In Madea's Witness Protection Program (2012), Jake (Romeo) works with Madea (Tyler Perry) and George (Eugene Levy) to recover funds lost in a Ponzi scheme, but doesn't get a girl.

Frat Brothers
(2013), about two brothers who pledge different fraternities, and One Heart (2013), about a juvenile delinquent basketball team, both pair Romeo with Darrin DeWitt Henson.  They look like them might have some some gay subtexts.

In keeping with the general media refusal to display black beefcake, there's not a lot of beefcake in Romeo's on-screen performances, but he makes up for it with many shirtless and semi-nude bicep and bulge photos available elsewhere.  A full-frontal nude photo is reputedly making the rounds of the internet.

Most rap artists, including the other former pre-teen rapper Bow Wow, are notoriously homophobic, but in 2007, after an outburst by Ja Rule, Romeo gave a pro-gay statement: "I’m not gonna hate on peeps for who they are. I have a few friends who are gay and why not? They alright with me."