Percy “Romeo” Miller, Jr. isn’t your average student at Beverly Hills High School. Sure, he’s on the basketball team and just got his drivers license, but while his classmates spend their lunch period doing homework and smoking cigarettes, Romeo is on the phone doing an interview with XXLMag.com. The son of hip-hop mogul Master P is only a junior in high school but over the years he’s slowly carved out his own niche as a teenage rapper and actor. As an MC, he has three albums under his belt, including his gold 2001 debut, Lil’ Romeo. As an actor, he’s starred in his own self-titled Nickelodeon sitcom, which ran for three years before being cancelled last year. Now, the 17-year-old superstar is looking forward to the next stage in his career. in addition to gearing up the release of his latest album, The Gumbo Station, on his own Guttar Music label, Romeo has a promising basketball career. As a 6-foot point guard on Beverly Hills High’s B-ball team, he attracted the attention of Division 1 college coaches across America. Then, last month, the New Orleans native committed to play for the University of Southern California for the 2008 season. Romeo takes a break from his studies and the studio to discuss his decision to play for USC and his upcoming album with XXLMag.com.
With your music, schoolwork and basketball career, how do you have time to balance everything?
I’m real busy, but I’m really dedicated to my work. I love doing what I do. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love doing it. I’m one of those people that look at life like, you only live it once, so you might as well go all out. It’s usually the weekdays that I’m real busy. But I still go to class and I’m [always] in school. I have two free periods during the day. One in the morning, so I workout with my basketball coach. We’ll go hit the weights at like 6:30 AM. Then I have another free period later, at like two, where I’ll chill and just do all my homework or whatever. It’s real busy and I try and stay active with the business side of it and then the whole acting and rapping thing.
Tell us about your new album that’s coming out?
The new album is called The Gumbo Station. I named it that because I feel like it has a lot of different variety. I got songs that will make you dance, think, cry and [get] crunk. I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from this album. A lot of people are saying this is my best album.
Coming from a family of rappers, was it tough for you as a teenage rapper?
It was actually real easy. Being around my pops and my family, I’ve seen all the things they were going through—how hard it was being away from their family—so it really helped me in that way. I’m not going to rush my childhood. I’m not going to rush my age or whatever. I’m going to just go with the flow and still do kid things. I was brought up in an industry where you had to grow up fast, but I still feel I was able to maintain my youthfulness. That’s why it was good for my mom and pops to send me to regular school. It kept me really humble, just seeing what kids go through in their daily life. It taught me how to deal with life. I thank my moms and pops for that. If you look at all my albums, I mature as the time comes. I don’t try and rush it, but I always mature.
Do you feel pressure to perform on the basketball court since your father played some pro ball?
I do this for fun. The pressure, that’s a whole different subject for me. I just love playing ball. I’m one of those people that you see having fun when he’s out there playing on the court. A lot of kids have pressure to get a college scholarship because that’s all they depend on. For me, I’ve already accomplished a lot of things and I’m able just to play the game for fun. At the same time, there can be some pressure, but my pops is there for me and I’m gonna keep doing what I do.
You’ve made a verbal agreement to accept a scholarship at USC. What attracted you to them?
I actually had over 10,000 letters from college coaches and I’m still getting letters right now. I was interested in probably four other schools, but I’m going to sign with USC officially in November when I become a senior. I wanted to get it out of the way so that I can focus on doing what I do. I feel knowing what school I was going to [attend] would help me learn their program before I got there. The reason I chose USC is because I wanted to be in the PAC-10 or the ACC conference. I felt I could get the best of both worlds at USC. They have one of the best film schools and it would help me accomplish what I love doing—basketball, music and acting. I felt like it was my dream school and the coach out there, Tim Floyd, is one of the best college coaches. I call him the college Phil Jackson. I feel he can really take my game to the next level.
Since your father has a lot of connections, are you working out with any professional players?
That’s one of the main things I do. People wonder why I’m in [such great] shape when I play in high school games. That’s because Nate Archibald works me out. It’s crazy because it’s a good opportunity. My auntie is a big sports fan and she showed me [his] game footage from back in the day. To work with him is a real honor because he doesn’t just work anybody out. He told me he likes me because I’m not the biggest player, but I have one of the biggest hearts and I get it done.
What is your pops going to do when he can’t coach you from the bench anymore?
[Laughs] He’ll be in the stands cheering, so it’s all love.