Lil Romo hails from Englewood, Chicago, which means triumphing through the struggle. The 19-year-old rapper has overcome some of the hardest challenges life can offer, but music would be his outlet.
With Lil Wayne and Michael Jackson as his early influences, he carries a great appreciation for both lyricism and artistry — while putting on for his hometown and leaving the negativity behind.
Last year, Romo unleashed his breakout single “Let’s Do It,” with the official music video breaking a million streams. Soon after, he joined the EMPIRE family. When it comes to his rhymes, he speaks on real-life experiences from losing loved ones to gun violence to the reality of being a young black man growing up in the southside of Chicago.
Now, he returns with his debut project titled King Without A Crown, with the title speaking for itself. The 13-track project tells his story the only way he knows how, blending melody with his rapid-fire flow and giving fans meaningful lyrics they can relate to.
AllHipHop caught up with Lil Romo to discuss his come up, the making of “Let’s Do It,” new project, goals, and more!
AllHipHop: What was it like growing up in Englewood, Chicago?
Lil Romo: It was cool, my granny stayed in Englewood. My mama used to stay on the eastside, she already tried to keep us away from Englewood for some reason. My granny stayed on the 17th floor since 2007. It was regular back in the day. When I was a kid, there was no tension or nothing. I was doing kid stuff.
AllHipHop: Were you in the streets? I know a lot of people from that area are.
Lil Romo: Nah. We was outside though. We were probably having school wars, fighting other schools. Before the streets even started … it was nothing.
AllHipHop: When did music come into play?
Lil Romo: I was 9 years old. I’ve been rapping for a long time.
AllHipHop: Did you record your first song at 9 years old?
Lil Romo: I actually did, but it was some bars my big brother had written for me. I remember they were always rapping. My brother was a producer, and my mama’s baby daddy was a producer. I’d be going to sleep hearing them make beats.
AllHipHop: What artists were you looking up to back then?
Lil Romo: Wayne, Sosa (Chief Keef), Gucci Mane was going crazy, I was looking up to Micheal Jackson, a lot of people. I used to love music, I fell in love with music at such a young age.
AllHipHop: When did you realize you could do this for a living?
Lil Romo: I got kicked out of two high schools, a lot of people knew me from fighting or being bad at school. When I realized where I was going with it, the benefits that come with it. How I can help my family and help everybody around.
AllHipHop: “Let’s Do It” hit over a million views, how’s that make you feel?
Lil Romo: It made me feel good, but I know I gotta keep going. That’s the beginning. I just seen SBG Kemo hit 10 million on the “Heavy Steppers.”
AllHipHop: Bring us back to when you recorded this one.
Lil Romo: I had heard the beat on YouTube. We’re playing beats, having us a little smoke session. The beat came on, that’s the first thing I was hearing. I ran with it like that, it was a constant mood. I recorded the second verse a month later. I was listening with one verse only for months. The whole process of the song was long basically, we had the song done 6 months before it dropped. I didn’t know if I wanted to put a second verse on it, I did it and it went crazy.
AllHipHop: Congrats on the release of King Without A Crown! How you feeling?
Lil Romo: I feel good, now that’s going to allow me to put more videos out. I like consistency. I’m definitely ready to drop all the videos I got planned for the tape, then I’ma drop new stuff.
AllHipHop: You say you’ve been grinding in the studio for the last 8 months,
Lil Romo: Me and the producer OGMicWill, <https://www.instagram.com/_ogmicwill/> we’ve been locked in. He got 8 songs on the tape. We always connect, he be helping me. He’s outspoken. When he talks, he’s humble. He lets me know when I can do something better, the criticism and everything. Every morning he’s calling me or me calling him: “we’re coming to the studio.” We probably made 150 songs, before we even dropped the tape.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Lil Romo: I don’t really need too much. Some weed, but that’s to keep me more focused. I focus more off the weed, but I don’t need it. I can still make a raw song. “Move For Me,” I was sober when I made that. “Let’s Do It”, I was smoking in the studio. A lot of my songs, I was rapping sober. I don’t even like to smoke before I rap.
I need some food in there. Especially if we in there long, we gotta get food. If I’m not by myself, the energy gotta be right. I can be by myself, go to the stu and still lock stuff up. I can’t have nobody coming who aren’t in the same energy. I’m looking at everybody else and I look at you, you know you’re gonna throw the whole thing off. I don’t even want you around.
AllHipHop: “223” is super personal, talk about spitting over these heartfelt beats.
Lil Romo: The only reason I named it “223” is because I made it on February 23rd, because of the date. That’s on accident though, I ran with it. That’s one of my favorites. When we made it, I slept on it for a month. I kept hearing it, it was so turnt when I heard it. I finally understood what I was saying, I did go crazy on that. Then I put a second verse, that’s why I took so long to get that record out.
AllHipHop: On “When I was Down” you say it started as a dream, what was your dream?
Lil Romo: Man, I have a lot. The dream was being the boss really. It started as a dream, look what I found. I really found my lane, I found my way. Everybody got dreams, on God.
AllHipHop: What songs mean the most to you & why?
Lil Romo: On the project, “War Is Won” because of the masses. On the hook, “I’m saying let the kids go outside, better not be no driveby. Sorry for my disrespect but I’m not no bad guy.” That’s just the hook. I felt in life, the war is won within myself. Everybody if you hear it, you might have a different opinion. You got your own battle and what you’re going through in your personal life.
AllHipHop: What jersey are you rocking?
Lil Romo: 34, Shaquille O’Neal. I’m actually a Lakers fan, but I really got it to match with my shoes. I wish they had the Mamba one, the #8 with the yellow and black.
AllHipHop: How’s your journey with EMPIRE been?
Lil Romo: I mess with EMPIRE. They allowed more control and their assistance helps. It’s a learning process too, that’s a lot. Especially for an artist who’s never signed no deal, learning everything behind closed doors is a lot. But it’s better, I’m just glad I got the tape out. The process of the tape was wearing me out, “damn, I gotta send in lyrics. I gotta do all this,” but I mess with it.
AllHipHop: One thing fans may not know about you?
Lil Romo: My birthday’s on 4/20, on the weed day. That’s crazy. Everybody be tweaking off that.
AllHipHop: Goals for yourself?
Lil Romo: Drop more music, pull more streams, grow my fanbase. I want to connect with my fans on another level. Being humble, staying and maintaining. I got some ideas for visuals to, if anything, I’m finna go crazy. I want to be the best I can be.