Contactmusic.com caught up with R&B sensation Omarion before he headed to his UK tour.
Contactmusic: The artwork on your new album '21' has you looking all grown up. Apart from your obvious weight training, how have you evolved since your debut album?
Omarion: Well, not just appearance but more so mentally. From my last album to this album, I feel this is the best that I have ever felt. When you become of age, you can sometimes feel like you have to force maturity. I've been lucky that I didn't feel that I had to try. Growth is something that is going to come, you just need to sit back and let it happen naturally.
CM: When you first released Entourage, it seemed like R&B was getting it's edged back, however would you agree that what is coming out right now is quite stilted and stale?
O: I wouldn't necessarily say that but I do feel that the funk is lost. The whole era with The Gap Band, James Brown and Earth, Wind & Fire, that real feel good flavour, that live instrumentation music is no where to be found.
CM: So you're bringing it back?
O: Yeah, I would say so.
CM: You worked with producer Timberland this time around, what was that like?
O: That was a wonderful experience. It's funny how that song [Ice Box] came about. We had finished the album and had recorded over 30 records and were at the stage of picking our set of 10-12. However, it was a blessing that we got connected to Timberland and he sent us a couple of tracks, we went in the studio and we wrote Icebox. It became the second single. We had to open the budget to make it possible but I told my boy that if this happens, I know it was meant to be. And sure enough it was!
CM: I can guarantee, that there're many guys out there, who have listened to your track Ice Box and felt that pain. Is the song from a real situation?
O: Yes it is. When it comes to R&B singers, people think of soft men and technically I am not a soft man, not your typically R&B cat, so with a song like Ice Box I wanted to be the voice for others. Women come out with songs all the time about woman empowerment, talking about to the left, to the left [referring to Beyonce's Irreplaceable], so I felt that the fellas needed something to represent how they felt. I know, not only from my own experiences but from my boys, that they may like a girl but for what ever reason they don't know how to really show it, so they separate and she, probably unaware, messes it up for any other chick that comes into his life from that point on. When they eventually decide to love it hurts so they put up all these barriers, and they become cold.
CM: Well, many guys are going to be nodding their heads in agreement and that song is on heavy rotation in the States, so your ex will hate hearing it.
CM: What type of woman would it take to melt your icebox then? I'm single by the way.
O: [Laughs]. First and foremost she needs to be a God fearing woman. Someone that is sure of herself, confident and just willing to be a woman. It is really difficult to find someone that is compactable. I like the biblical way of being in a relationship which is head shipment, I'm not saying that a man should run over a woman, but a man should have his role and a woman have her role.
CM: Easier said than done. Anyway, Cassie (P. Diddy's protégé) clearly thinks she's your type after her comments last summer about you and Bow Wow supposedly chatting her up. Did you ever speak to her about that?
O: [Laughs] Yeah, I did and she actually cleared the air on that. Truthfully, it is interesting the impression that some people can get, because yes she is a beautiful girl and probably gets approached all the time, but say a guy like myself who really didn't have those intentions and maybe just wanted a friendship, it may come across a different way to her. It is what it is. Omarion knows what he wants and [laughs] that was not what it was.
CM: Wow, Okay. With so many people desperately seeking fame, what have you learnt from your own celebrity and what would you warn others, in particular trying to be R&B stars?
O: One thing that I am becoming to learn is that you've got to have patience and wait your turn in this game. I feel like I am progressing as an artist, as a writer and as a performer and I know that there will be that one moment that will change everything. It could be that one record, in fact it feels like it could be Ice Box. So if you are trying to be a star, try to define your individuality.
CM: You're doing more movies, isn't there a film called Reggaeton which is produced by Jennifer Lopez coming out, what's your role in that?
O: Yeah, I play a guy called Rob and it was interesting to play because the character mirrored my life. Rob has a lot of talent but doesn't have leadership he doesn't have a father around, like myself, and he is forced to be a leader on his own. In the movie he strives to be a rapper, but he steals from the wrong person and his mother ships him to Puerto Rico to be with the father he barely knows. While there he founds this new sound of music, which is Reggaeton
CM: In the UK we are obsessed with what American artists think of our homegrown talent. So has anyone caught your ear from here?
O: Yes, there's a group called Fun*demental, I think that they are real talented guys.
CM: Their style is quite similar to what you did in B2K
O: Yeah. I also went out the other night to an open mic. I didn't realise that the UK had so many talented people.
CM: Thanks for the chat.
O: It's been fun.
Interview by Maxine Headley.