Omarion on white background

Omarion Aims To Please With ‘Sex Playlist’

Whether putting his woman first on Love & Hip Hop or satisfying the ladies with his latest effort Sex Playlist, Omarion aims to please. One round of his forth studio album will indefinitely lead to more as one-minute men get rejected at the door. On the 13-track offering, O masters the art of longtime lovemaking (it's a marathon, not a sprint) in the name of good R&B and fulfilling his own expectations. "I feel like this is a real body of work so I’m happy," he says.

Beyond his extracurricular activities between the sheets, the 30-year-old crooner (real name Omari Ishmael Grandberry) is now a proud papa to three-month-old Megaa Omari Grandberry, with longtime lady, Apryl Jones. He's even embracing his grown manhood by showing off Megaa's early talents on Instagram.

Draped in a red plaid poncho, white button-up, jeans and Timberland boots, the former B2K frontman recently stopped by VIBE HQ (Dec. 3) and bared all while discussing future wedding plans, being a reality show star and the essentials necessary to make Sex Playlist a pure body party.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

VIBE: Let’s start from the beginning because that intro was something serious.
Omarion: Did you hear the saxophone?

That was your uncle, right?
Yes, Gerald Albright and he’s an O.G. in the game. It was real cool to be able to do a record like that because I feel like it really represented R&B music. Let’s be honest: which R&B brothers is using the saxophone? There’s only one other person I’ve heard use the saxophone in their music and it was Ty Dolla $ign on his mixtapes. Terrace Martin did it and I was like, ‘That’s fly.’

It sounded like the perfect opener for Sex Playlist. Did you plan on your uncle contributing to this project?
My uncle was doing a show in L.A. and I was like, ‘Come through, Unc.’ When he came into the studio, I didn’t really know what to expect but he went in there and did his thing. That record was actually produced by Eric Hudson and Fauntleroy wrote it.

What is it like working with Fauntleroy?
Besides him being a really good friend of mine and us being from the same city, he's so talented. Working with him is always cool because you recognize and realize when writers write for people, it can be as standard or as personal. Because we have a relationship and he’s been a fan of my music and watched me grow, he just knew. When we were speaking about the music, he was like ‘Slow jams. I want to give you the ultimate slow jams.’ I didn’t really have to say much or sell him on the idea of what was going on in my life. I would really attribute that to our friendship and our relationship. He doesn’t write music like that [for just anybody]. I’m just sayin’.

What was your frame of mind approaching this album because it's all about sex.
Sex Playlist is more about connecting than sex. I feel like everything is so now, about the turn-up and how fast you can do it. It’s really about love. I started so young and when I developed, I understood the importance of listening. What’s the maturation, sonically and lyrically, in the past from “O” to “Touch” to “Ice Box”? This album is climactic in that aspect. It’s touching on how to really connect with a woman. The first lyric on Sex Playlist is “I can’t believe I got her all alone.” I’m already putting myself in a situation of vulnerability because I’m excited that I’m actually about to share a moment with a woman I’ve been dreaming to share a moment with. It’s not that fake, ‘I’m finna turn up on her, she got a fake ass, ooh it’s goin’ up’ [kind of love]. I’m taking my time. I experimented on this music myself hence why my child is here and why I’m a father now because I wanted to feel that ultimate passion.

How long did it take you to do this album?
Probably a year and a half of just changing the album title [from Love & Other Drugs], working out the kinks, [finding] what works, what doesn’t work, what fits into the concept, what are people talking about these days, and how can we connect with the culture. And that’s what it really was for me because yo, we can turn up all night but what’s the message?

Let’s talk about “Post To Be” because it brings another element to the album.
That’s the confidence. You gotta walk in there, even if you got dun da duns on, you gotta be walking in there, rock hard, like “How it’s ‘posed to be” and she’s gonna be like “Well, turn up on me then!” I’m just tryna connect with the youth and what they’re accustomed to now. It’s a special record to me because first of all, Jhené [Aiko] has never been on a [DJ] Mustard song and would have probably never been on a Mustard song. Me and Chris Brown haven’t worked together. We could have easily gotten a rapper. I could’ve paid those bands or [collaborated with] who’s hot right now on the radio but I wanted to do something different. All [of us are] singers and we’re give you the same feeling when you listen to [Big Sean’s] “I.D.F.W.U.”

Who came up with the brilliant line of “eating the booty like groceries”?
Jhené did. She wanted to say that and I was like, “OK.” (Laughs)

How has fatherhood and being on Love & Hip Hop shaped Omarion the singer?
It’s definitely given my audience, onlookers or new fans a different piece of me. Fatherhood is a process you can’t really express. I didn’t understand when people said, ‘Oh, my son is a genius. My baby can dance,’ and I’d be like ‘Oh you’re probably biased ‘cause that’s your child’ but I feel that. To show a different side on Love & Hip Hop and bring some validity to it and not just be ratchet, messy or whatever the case may be, it was cool to be that guy, not just from a fan standpoint but an artist standpoint. I know [the show's] reaching out to a lot of people now and I’m pretty sure that a lot of people are entertaining the idea because of how my storyline was shaped. I’m so happy with Mona [Scott Young] because I had preconceived notions of what it would be like to be on a reality show but it wasn’t that. Then I had Fizz on the show with me and we shared success and a lot of our experiences together. It really worked out for me. I thought it would be cool too because my son could look back on it and be like, ‘Dang, I was born on the show. My parents is live.’

Was your son listening to Sex Playlist while you were making it?
No, he was getting made. It’s really cool that I have a boy because he will get to that place where he’ll be like ‘Dad’ or he’ll have other siblings like ‘Yo, bro’ ‘cause I was very much that kid. I told my mom I wanted to buy roses for my teachers so I’m pretty sure my son’ll be that way too. It’s gonna be cool when he gets old enough to understand what Sex Playlist is and who it’s for and we can have those conversations.

ALSO SEE: 14 Lines To Text (After Dark) From Omarion's Sex Playlist

Speaking of reality shows, Bow Wow is now engaged to Erica Mena. Do you have plans on attending the wedding?
If I get that invite. Regardless of what anyone thinks you’re supposed to do when you have a friendship, you gotta support your friends even if they lookin’ crazy or if they lookin’ good. If I get that invite, I’ma be suited and booted, supporting my dog [telling him] ‘It’s over for you, buddy. No more turning up unless it’s a joint venture turn-up.'

Are wedding bells in your near future?
Well, me and my lady are unconventional when it comes to that. I feel like me and her are more married than a lot more married couples out there. If it is something that we plan on doing, whenever that time comes, we cool, we confident and we in this situation together. It’s us. We got a child now. I couldn’t erase her even if I wanted to.

When it comes to your own sex playlist, who would we find on there? Not including yourself.
(Busts out singing R. Kelly’s “Bump N’ Grind.”) Let’s say R. Kelly “Body’s Callin’”, Sade. You can get The Best of Sade and just press play. Her band is called Sweetback and they got an album that’s all instrumentals with maybe like two or three songs. Probably some Silk and Jodeci.

Give me your 30-second pitch for Sex Playlist actually leading to sex.
We’re gonna be touching on five senses so the first thing we wanna do is get some candles to set the mood. Number two, we wanna have Sex Playlist playing. Three, we wanna have an aphrodisiac. The trust gotta be there but we wanna blindfold her and get what I consider to be the best dessert, warm butter cake from Mastro’s. We got essential oils. It’s real important to understand how to get your lady in the mood ‘cause sometimes, she might not be feelin’ it but she will never turn down a massage. What I say is you gotta butter it up before you stick it in the oven. Last but not least—and this is a little freaky deaky—is you wanna introduce some toys into the room. I travel a lot and when I’m traveling, my baby get a little lonely. So I hit her up on Skype, like ‘Wassup, I left somethin’ under the sink for you, you feel me. Handle that.’

Dive into Sex Playlist by purchasing it on iTunes here.

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Genres Aside, Here Are Our 25 Favorite Songs Of 2018

Keeping up with all of the music from 2018 was a full-time job, with loads of songs releasing every week and not enough ears to keep track. But the volume of music comes with an advantage: there’s something for everybody. Fittingly, our list of the 25 Best Songs of 2018 represents the multi-genre mayhem that is in everyone’s playlists this year.

Some of the entries on our list, like cuts by Drake, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, were at the forefront of the conversation in 2018, dominating streaming services and radio around the country. Indie darling Saba made waves, and he’s included here as well. Jazz wizard Kamasi Washington dropped some of the best protest music of the year. But there are also some songs on this year’s list that spoke to the VIBE Tribe in a different way. Cardi B had hits all year, but an album cut impressed us most; Usher and Zaytoven’s new album didn’t make a huge splash commercially, but one of its songs appears here. And Beyonce appears on one of the best songs of the year that never even saw an official release–but that didn’t stop us from including it here.

Music broke the rules this year, and so did we. Read below, and tell us what surprise choices are making your songs of the year list.

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Remember The Time: 10 Times Drake And Kanye West Were Stronger Together

Kanye West and Drake aren’t exactly in the best place at the moment. West’s Dec. 13 Twitter rant detailed their issues, in which he accuses Drake of “sneak dissing” and threatening him.

“You sneak dissing on [Travis Scott] records and texting Kris [Jenner] talking about how’s the family.” he wrote among many other tweets and allegations against the Scorpion MC.

While this is a bump in the road, the two haven’t always been enemies. Despite the shenanigans surrounding them, Kanye West and Drake have had a very fruitful relationship. All drama aside, the duo have created many memorable moments in hip-hop and pop culture. They’ve written and recorded some incredible songs and shared countless stages during concerts and tours.

To abstain from dwelling on the negativity, VIBE has collected a list of moments taking you through the high points in the rappers’ relationship. Check it out below.


Drake's Freestyles Over Many Beats By 'Ye

Before he was one of the most sought-after rappers in the world, Drizzy has looked up to Kanye West and sampled his work. For “Say What’s Real,” a single off his mixtape So Far Gone, the “In My Feelings” MC sampled Yeezy’s “Say You Will” off of his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. The admiration continued throughout the years, resulting in more freestyles over songs like “Swagga Like Us” and “Barry Bonds.” Both tracks feature beats created by the Chi-town native. 

‘Thank Me Later’ Proves Their Shared Power 

After meeting in 2009, the duo came together to bring Drake's Thank Me Later album to the next level. They collaborated on two tracks- the futuristic love songs “Show Me A Good Time,” and “Find Your Love.” With West holding down production, deep-pocketed 808’s and table-top scratch sounds were highlighted. The accolades for the latter song resulted in the No. 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as they created their own lane.

Drake Calls Kanye “The Most Influential Person”

In a 2009 interview, the then-industry rookie had some nice words for West. Speaking specifically about the 41-year-old’s 808’s and Heartbreak album, the Toronto rapper described ‘Ye as "the most influential person” who was important to young emcees in the game.

"Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes," Drake said. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I'd even go as far as to say he's the most influential person as far as a musician that I'd ever had in my life."

Their Collaborations On Wax 

The pair has been making music together for nearly 10 years, with some standout tracks including “Forever,” the remix to “All Of The Lights,” and “Pop Style.” On their 2017 song “Glow” off of Drake’s playlist More Life, both rappers discuss their growing, limitless success. West was rumored to initially appear on Drizzy’s smash-hit “Nice For What.” He reportedly had a verse on the critically-acclaimed track until the beef between Drake and his G.O.O.D. Music cohort Pusha T became lethal.

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Kanye confirmed the plan to release an album with Drake to Vogue in 2016, shortly after hinting at a joint project during OVO Fest. The Take Care rapper co-signed the announcement, saying "What my brother was asking before was, are you ready if we make an album?"

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Drake wrote a song for Kanye’s 2016 effort, The Life of Pablo. The Canadian hip-hop star helped pen the Isaac Hayes and Nelly-sampled “30 Hours.” Drizzy was also reportedly on the original, unreleased version of Pablo’s “Wolves,” which featured Icelandic artist Bjork (the album version features Vic Mensa and Sia).

The Duo Become Friendly, Competitive Neighbors

By the time of their initial meeting in 2009, Kanye already clocked in nearly a decade of music industry knowledge, and Drake was making the transition from teen TV star to full-time rapper. But who would have thought the duo would have eventually become actual neighbors?

Drake eventually moved to Calabasas, Calif.- a neighborhood in Los Angeles many celebrities call home- around the same time West began publicly dating his now-wife, Kim Kardashian. In the 2016 bop “Summer Sixteen,” Drizzy jokes, “Now I got a house in LA, now I got a bigger pool than Ye / And look man, Ye’s pool is nice, mine's just bigger's what I’m saying.”


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There goes the neighborhood

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Kanye Supports OVO Fest

Drake created a hip-hop festival called OVO Fest in 2010. Not only does it feature notable acts in urban music, but it also gave a platform to upcoming artists from Canada who might not have gotten a platform back home. Kanye West was one of the first supports of the music event, performing at three of the festivals.

He also admitted that Drake inspired him and JAY-Z to record Watch The Throne during 2013’s OVO Fest, stating, "Me and Hov would've never made Watch the Throne if this ni**a wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects.”

Kanye Apologizes To Drake Over G.O.O.D. Music Album Rollouts

Earlier this fall, Kanye West apologized to Drake in a series of tweets for planning the rollout of albums by artists under his G.O.O.D music roster around the proposed release of Scorpion.

In one of the tweets, Kanye wrote “Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place. We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.” In another tweet, ‘Ye revealed that he never listened to the diss tracks between him and Pusha, and didn’t have conversations regarding Drake’s child with him.

Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place … We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.

— ye (@kanyewest) September 5, 2018

They Shared Laughs Over Meek Mill Memes

Drake and Meek Mill were in an infamous feud back in 2015. After performing his diss track aimed at Meek- "Back to Back”- at the 2015 OVO Fest, Drizzy, Kanye, and Will Smith enjoyed a laugh over the countless memes mocking the Philly MC.

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Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

What a year 2018 has been for music lovers.

Listeners enjoyed a buffet of diverse melodies, savoring in the choice of curating the tunes they craved as opposed to consuming more than they can digest. Rumored albums from veterans like Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V and The Carters' first joint project battled its way to the top of our personal charts alongside music's innovators like Noname, The Internet, Buddy, and Janelle Monae.

Within that aforementioned list of artists, a new generation of lyricists and vocalists found their footing with fans and critics alike. The rising crop of talent released projects that should motivate each of them to carve out space for forthcoming awards. While we took into account the albums released from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 20, 2018, that moved us emotionally, we also checked off a list of requirements like replay value, overall production, critical reception, and cultural impact.

Here are the 30 albums (in alphabetical order, not ranked), that instilled pride in our culture, made us take a look within, and encouraged us to appreciate music all over again.

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