Omarion — A Day in the Life
It’s an early New York morning, and much like an athlete preparing for their shining moment singer Omarion is prepping himself for a grueling day of promotion for his new album ‘Ollusion.’ As he makes his way from his hotel room to a waiting SUV, the 25-year-old steals quiet moments to himself before heading over to the Power 105 ‘Ed Lover Morning Show’ with his game face on. “I don’t know if there is any such thing as unwinding in the midst of work,” he says of the jam-packed schedule his management has him on. “You unwind when you get back to the hotel and you’re done with work. Most of the time conversations range from the interviews that just happened or what we’re going to do later. When we’re in the midst of business it’s usually about something that’s going on or something that’s to come.”
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As he takes his seat in the studio next to morning show co-host Free, O can’t hold in his laughter from all the personal questions — like who he’s “banging” — the duo throw his way. His next stop is rival radio station Hot 97 where Peter Rosenberg quizzes him on how well he knows black women, asking what kind of food a black woman wants on a dinner date. “Chicken!” Omarion says smiling. “I know my black women!” At break time O and his team head over to The Pink Tea Cup for breakfast before hitting his next location. It’s his first time at the West Village soul-food institution and there he manages to find some time to play a few songs on the jukebox and a game of Sudoku in a local newspaper. “That’s like a hobby of mine when I’m really bored, or I’m just chilling,” he says.
Riding behind tinted windows O makes his way over to Barney’s New York to purchase some clothes for his appearance on BET’s ‘106 & Park.’ “I got a sweater, a pair of jeans and some shoes,” he says after purchasing the clothes. “I spent $1200! They’re expensive in there, I’m gonna stop going to Barneys,” he jokes. Backstage at BET, O gets his hair trimmed by a barber that he’s skeptical about at first but settles on getting a line up instead of a full cut. “Truthfully I’ve had a lot of bad experience with other barbers. I’m really anal about that.” While in the green room he goes over the script with the director before heading to the soundstage full of screaming fans, which even after spending a good portion of his adolescence in the public eye, never gets old. “Its always really cool [to feel the fans’ energy] especially because I’ve been away from 106 for a while.”
In 2000, Omarion was the lead singer of the R&B group B2K, where they shot to fame by way of a handful of chart topping singles. Yet at the height of the group’s success, the four men — Omarion, Razz B, Lil Fizz and J-Boog — went their separate ways, but not without controversy. The three group members claimed that their manager Chris Stokes had mishandled their money. O stood by Stokes denying the claims and embarking on a solo career. His 2004 self-titled debut spawned the hits ‘O‘ and ‘Touch,’ but it wasn’t until 2006’s ’21‘ that the youngster showed he was more than just a face in a boy band, dropping the chart-topping Timbaland-produced hit ‘IceBox.’
Three years later, O wants to show his fans that his time off has allowed him to mature. “I really think this is an industry that’s driven off of perception. ‘Ollusion’ derives from the word illusion. I felt like I wanted to capitalize on people not really having a full understanding of who I am. A big part of me is reason. I would never make a move without any reason, everything in my life has to have reason. I never do things off the wind, or [because] I’m living life to the fullest or [say] ‘I’m just going to do it.’ That’s not really a part of my personality.”
“[The album has] some classic Omarion love bangers. I think that a lot of people have an assumption of who I am, especially in the public eye. I’ve always kind of been ridiculed and misquoted. At this point in the game people take the negative from things. It’s almost like, if a lot of people don’t like you, then most of the time people have negative stuff to say about you. People love to hate you. It’s just the time that we’re in.”
Growing up in the music industry did little to jade the Los Angeles native’s belief system when it comes to women and relationships. O steers clear of supporting infidelity and multiple sex partners when it comes to his music. “I really felt like for me it was important to stick to who I am as a man and my personal topics and issues; and then not have to say I’m [going to] make a song about being with three or four different women because that’s the perception of an R&B artist or that’s the perception of the [music] business. That’s really not who I am, so I wanted to keep everything in the bracket of who Omarion is as a person, as a man, as a human being and as an artist.”
“This is the first time I’m being able to stick to that and the reason why is because as an artist you want to have hot records so most of the time you have producers and songwriters sending you hot songs and you don’t want to miss on an opportunity to have a hit record if you like something. But because I wrote on every song on the album, I didn’t want to be that artist that found a hot song and ten other records don’t sound [anything] like that hot song on my album.”
Using his personal relationships, one of which was rumored to have resulted in marriage — a claim that he quickly discredited — O set out to tell stories about the good and bad sides of being in love. “[I have] a song called ‘Speeding.’ I think this record is like one of the dopest records that I’ve done. I think everyone goes through a time in their life where they might be in the middle with their feelings with someone. They really feel like ‘I want to be with this person’ or ‘I don’t want to be with this person,’ I need to race to my decision.” Testing his boundaries on tracks like ‘Wet,’ in which he explains in detail the steps he wants to take to please his woman, or ‘Bi,’ where he ponders his girlfriend’s sexual orientation, ‘Ollusion’ provides a conceptual expression, some of which some of his fans may not be used to hearing. “I think the album really feels good. It has those elements of what a good album is. You can play it from top to bottom. Its about the expression of love and the true essence of being able to capture that feeling.”
As his day winds down a few fans spot O in his SUV and run up to the car to take pictures. By the time he makes it back to the hotel it’s late, so he climbs into bed, checks a few emails then settles in to watch his favorite Japanese-anime cartoon ‘Naratu’ before falling asleep with the television on.