Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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OMARION: COMING OF AGE

Omarion
Omarion Omarion

Just as Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie did before him with the Jackson 5 and The Commodores, 21-year-old Omarion utilised his time spent with boyhood super group B2K, which in turn helped mould the young soul vocalist into one of the best in the business. Dominating airwaves all over the globe, Omarion currently holds the number spot on the US Billboard chart thanks to his new age-related album â21â. Heâs also on the hunt for his first ever number one record with the Timbaland-produced âIce Boxâ, which continues to move higher and higher up the US chart with a measured inevitability.

Itâs always a pleasure to interview Omarion. His manner and vocal tone come across as enthused yet comfortable, eager yet relaxed as if heâs getting ready to go out on a Friday night with the fellas. Explaining how things have been for him recently, he beams âLifeâs been pretty wonderful recently. Iâm really grinding hard back in the States. In my albumâs first week of release I got the number one spot. That was an amazing way to bring in the New Year. For that Iâve gotta say thanks to the Man upstairs.â

Originally set for release back in October â06, â21â, already one of the most anticipated RânâB albums of the year, had to be pushed back because of a certain discovery. âWe had a dilemma,â Omarion smiles.
âThe dilemma was that we found âIce Boxâ.â Without question his best piece of work thus so far, âIce Boxâ sees the singer team up with Timbaland, the maestro producer whoâs currently hotter than your breakfast toast, and together they crafted something that is, in all honesty, nothing short of amazing. âWhat happened was, we had a date for the album,â he explains. âBut I had a worrying feeling that the album wasnât quite full enough, like it was missing a song or two. Then, for whatever reason, the album got pushed back once, and then it got pushed back again. Then in the midst of all this we ended up getting together with Timbaland,â he reveals. âTim sent over a bunch of tracks, which included âIce Boxâ and âBeg For Itâ, and I loved them both. So we went back into the studio with him and recorded them both. I was a lot happier about the overall strength of the album after they were included. Anything can wait. Anything can wait for a hit record. That, after all, is what everyone wants at the end of the day. I guess you could say that the wait was well worth it.â

It is clear that the young man is more than comfortable with his own professional and personal life and his newly found level of maturity and assuredness beams from him like a lighthouse ray.
âI recorded about thirty songs for this project. Out of those we selected twelve. Out of those twelve songs I wrote eight,â he says with an undisguised pride. âSo Iâm getting my pen game up too.â Listing some of the producers who worked on the new album, Omarion drops names like Bryan Michael Cox, Pharrell and The Underdogs, but one name in particular he canât stop enthusing about is a newbie by the name of Eric Hudson. âHe plays like five instruments,â he gushes. âItâs old soul. I would consider him my Teddy Riley because heâs helped me project my influences on to this album. If you listen to âElectricâ, âEntourageâ and âBeen With A Starâ, all those records are records that I dug into the crates for to help me create that feeling of old funk. No one makes records like that anymore. Eric helped me to do that. Heâs a name that you should watch out for.
Heâs big talent.â

So are existing Omarion fans gonna be satisfied and thrilled by the new album? âI would say that this is my most personal album to date. I always wanted to project a story, and because I got more involved in writing this time around, the overall project has been more appealing to me, to my life, and to the people that have gone through the things that I have gone through in my life. Thereâs a lot of personal stuff there.â
Itâs good to see that the boy who once offered songs like âBump, Bump, Bumpâ and âGirlfriendâ, hasnât been brainwashed or tarnished by the vagaries and pitfalls of the music industry. He, thankfully, has survived the initial obstacles and has emerged as a genuine talent with his head set firmly on his shoulders and his feet squarely on the ground. âOn all the songs on the record, I feel like Iâve put genuine and real emotion behind them,â he says with conviction. âI wrote and sang about my reactions to real life situations. So I feel like Iâm giving little bits and pieces of me and my situations. Thatâs, I think, is why itâs coming off differently this time, because itâs true... itâs real.â

As to the inevitable lure of the Big Screen, Omarion talks of two new flicks heâs in that are set to drop in the not too distant future. Yeah, Iâve got two movies coming out soon - Somebody Help Me and Reggaeton. âSomebody Help Me is a scary film which stars myself and Marques Houston. Then thereâs Reggaeton (written and produced by Jennifer Lopez) in which I play a character named Rob. Heâs from Harlem and is half black and half Puerto Rican, with aspirations of becoming a rap star. Both of them were lotsa fun to do and a big learning curve.
In Reggaeton in particular, I get the opportunity to show my range as an actor. I have scenes where I cry and a love scene. I think people may be pleasantly surprised at what they see.â

Omarion's album â21â is out now through RCA Records.
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