Romeo Miller, the entertainer and entrepreneur formerly known by his rap moniker Lil Romeo, has a new gig. He is the host of the new MTV reality series Ex on the Beach, which premiered on Thursday night. In case it’s not clear from the title, the show gets 10 reality stars from shows like The Bachelor, Big Brother, and Are You The One? together on a beach, and then their exes unexpectedly show up. “It's kind of like a horror movie if you think about it,” Miller explained to me in a recent phone interview. This is the first hosting gig for Miller, who is not only the son of rap legend Master P, but an actor on Freeform’s Famous in Love and one of the stars of Growing Up Hip-Hop. However, in securing his new Ex on the Beach role, Miller has joined a legacy of rappers who have transitioned seamlessly from hip-hop to hosting.
When Pimp My Ride first aired in 2004, Xzibit was a relatively popular West Coast rapper. Now thanks to the success of the MTV series, it’s likely that a fan of Xzibit would be more likely recall one of his most memorable episodes than a single song of his. These days you can catch Redman hosting the VH1 horror/reality show Scared Famous. And Ludacris — the same rapper responsible for classic hits like “What’s Your Fantasy?” and “My Chick Bad” — hosted the revival season of the Fear Factor. Nick Cannon’s rap career is often the butt of the joke on his own MTV series Wild n’ Out, just one of the shows he hosts. He was the resident host of America’s Got Talent for seven years before resigning last year. Generation Z might not be old enough to remember LL Cool J as an MC, but I do. Before he was hosting the Grammys or Lip Sync Battle, he was delivering classic hits like “Doin It” and “I Need Love.” From Queen Latifah to Snoop Dogg, lyrical connoisseurs have proven their versatility by guiding audiences through all kinds of viewing experiences.
But how? Not every rapper has the opportunity or chops to transition to television. So I asked Miller what he thought the magic ingredient to a multifaceted entertainer actually was. “You have to have that character,” he explained. “You have to find your niche. I think that's the key. Finding your niche, and finding something that matches you.” And when you think about the place rappers hold in our culture at large, it makes perfect sense. These musicians spend a lot of energy (and money) to give off an air of copacetic debonair, be the life of the party, and get crowds hype. They don’t have to force jokes to prove that they’re cool, and they often likely break up a monotony of white faces at major events. It’s not just music producers who have been able to benefit from these big personalities.
In Miller’s case, his rap career began with him as a young heartthrob for teenage girls in the early 2000’s. His iconicity as a ladies man is lending itself to him as a Hitch-like mediator for Ex on the Beach. “This is the type of show I want to host because there's so many aspects of me that I get to show in there. Growing up everyone called me Dr. Phil. Everyone would come up to me and ask for relationship advice, situationship advice, whatever they're in.” It also doesn’t hurt that he’s young and has more abs than what seems humanly possible. On the show, Miller bears the bad news to the contestants that their exes will be joining them on their island of paradise. He's composed, calm, and wearing a gold chain because... why not? But most importantly, he's comfortable. Two decades in the entertainment industry have made sure that he's camera-ready at all times.
Hosting has become the ultimate proof that a rapper is a jack of all trades, and that’s why Miller admits that he isn’t afraid of what many people call the “reality curse,” or the phenomenon of entertainers from different genres being pigeonholed into the less lucrative world of reality television. “It's a new world. It's a new generation. Success is a lot different now. You gotta be able to do a little bit of everything,” Miller noted.