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Hip-Hop Heir

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Growing up in New Orleans, Lil’ Romeo would sneak into a studio belonging to his father—gangsta rapper and No Limits Records mogul Master P—to record his own rhymes. “One day the producer was playing the songs,” says Lil’ Romeo. “My dad was like, ‘Who’s that?’ and the producer was like, ‘That’s Romeo.’ That’s how it got started.”

But with lyrics about roller-skating and school, Lil’ Romeo, 12, is hardly following in his father’s hardcore footsteps. “His music is straight for the kids,” says Master P, 32. “And grown-ups like it because it’s got a clean message.” So much J so that Lil’ Romeo’s debut single, “My Baby” (one of 16 songs on the self-titled CD that he and his dad helped cowrite), became a chart-topping hit for 10 weeks this summer, pushing, him past Stevie Wonder as the youngest solo artist ever to have a No. 1 single. That honor is just amazing,” says the rap rookie.

Not that success is anything new to him. In addition to earning A’s and B’s at St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Baton Rouge, Lil’ Romeo (real name: Percy Romeo Miller Jr.) is a star basketball player, ranking among the nation’s top point guards in his age group. “I want to be a pro,” he says. “That’s always been my dream.”

For now he’ll make do with acting on a new Nickelodeon sitcom this fall and kicking off his first solo tour this month. But neither of those gigs will free him from chores at the New Orleans mansion he shares with his father, mother Sonya, 33 (who’s also his road manager), and five younger siblings—or from his parents’ rules. “You’ll see no tattoos or earrings on him,” says Master P, “until he turns 18.”