10-Minute Fortune Teller: Xavier Omär Unwinds At His First-Ever Lollapalooza
There’s nothing wrong with breaking out from a long work weekend for a quick moment of fun and games. That ended up being the case for rising singer/songwriter Xavier Omar, who made his first Lollapalooza appearance this past weekend (August 6). The crowd, much thicker than he imagined it would be (“I only expected five people to show up,” he coyly told the crowd), loved every moment of him diving into fan-favorite jams like “The Motive Used to Be the Melody,” “If This Is Love,” and “Blind Man.” He even treated them to two brand-new cuts, “Running ‘Round” and “Stuck,” before their release later in the year. The set capped off with him chugging two beers Stone Cold Steve Austin–style in celebration.
With his energy still on high, Omar allowed himself to unwind in the press tent and answer some random questions just for the fun of it. Letting VIBE’s trusty fortune tellers be our guides, we chopped it up with Xavier about how bomb he’d be as a sports commentator, canceling R. Kelly playlists, his idea Lollapalooza lineup, and more.
VIBE: If Barack Obama dropped a Trump diss track, what would it be called?
Xavier Omar: “Orange Ain’t the New Black.” There it is.
If you could curate Lollapalooza’s lineup, who would you add to the bill?
I really liked this year. Just for my own selfish reasons, I love all things Coldplay and Foo Fighters, and I would’ve found a way to get Pharrell, because Pharrell deserves to be on everything ever. I have a “Get Lucky” tattoo. It’s been, like, two weeks, so it’s still healing.
Do you smoke?
I don’t, but I know a lot of people that do.
What’s the craziest or most fun story you’ve heard after someone ate an edible?
Just one of the things where they eat one and they say, “This ain’t doing nothing.” Then they keep eating a bunch. And then, I don’t really know what happens after that, except they are just way too high to be existing. I personally have never had one. [He asks his team if they’ve had edibles.] Come on guys, I need a better crew than this. Because if I’m going to be the wholesome one, I need drug people around me for the stories.
Who is the most iconic Tommy: from Rugrats, from Power, or from Martin?
I haven’t watched Power. I’m one of the few people who haven’t watched Power, that or Game of Thrones. It’s not Rugrats. I know what’s left is Martin, but there’s one more Tommy… Green Ranger! That Tommy from the Power Rangers. There it is. He is the most iconic Tommy of all time.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has offered to do for you so far?
I haven’t had anything of that nature quite yet. When I was doing the whole [Purple] Panda thing two years back, I’ve been given a stuffed panda. Cool things like that, but I’ve had weird tweets like, “Hey can I come backstage and roll some blunts with you?” Or “What are you doing after?” I’m like, I literally don’t know who you are. Not in a bad sense, but if somebody tweets you this right now and you have no idea who they are, you will feel this. So I haven’t had anything quite crazy in the sense of offers yet. Want me to tell you the craziest thing that’s happened to me, though?
In San Jose, my first-ever sold-out show, I had been talking to people for about 30-40 minutes. We’re leaving now, and as I’m talking to someone… Well, we weren’t even leaving yet. I was going to give everybody their time, but we were finishing up. As I’m talking to somebody, at the time I didn’t have a beard, and I had a fro hair thing going on. This girl pulls my hair and licks the side of my face. I said “That’s it.” We left. I couldn’t do it. I haven’t even been back to San Jose since, OK? There is no situation I want my face licked. Even if I want you, I don’t want my face licked.
How quickly did you run to go scrub your face?
We left! I wasn’t going to the bathroom because I’d have to go back through the people, so I was like, we are leaving. I don’t want anything else. Oh man, it was all bad. And I wasn’t even a big enough deal to get my face licked! This was two years ago.
Was she drunk?
Yes, she was definitely drunk, but I have no excuses for your drunkness. Nope, I don’t wanna hear it. Control yourself.
R. Kelly’s “Ignition” is playing on the radio. Are you listening or are you changing the channel?
I’m gonna change it, but as I’m changing it I’m gonna sing, “Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce.” It’s still catchy, but it’s gotta go. All of it’s gotta go.
Do you feel guilty sometimes?
I don’t listen to R. Kelly, so there’s nothing to feel guilty about. There’s no R. Kelly on my… Well, there’s one song on my phone that has R. Kelly, now that I think about it. It’s Justin Bieber and R. Kelly. They have a song called “PYD,” “Put You Down.” This was when Justin was still making that transition with Journals, and it was his first sex song. I have that because it’s fire, but I need to get rid of it now.
How would you describe today’s hip-hop to Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X?
You’ll love Kendrick [Lamar] and [J.] Cole, that’s what I would say to King. He’d even love Noname. He’d love Chance [The Rapper]. There’s a lot to love, but when you fight for the goodness of freedom, you don’t just fight for your preference at the end of the day. Your dream is realized even if you wouldn’t truly cosign this person or that person’s use of your dream. But at the end of the day, it’s realized. I think there are people he would listen to, and I also think there are a bunch Dr. King and Malcolm X would say, “Not for me.” We’re living what they fought for.
What do you say to people who criticize today’s music’s blended scene in general?
I think they should criticize us if it all stayed the same. It all sounds the same in its era, but that’s always true. That’s been true about every era of music. It seems that for the most part, music styles all last about a decade before the next thing happens. For a decade, we’re moving towards whatever’s next. So until a decade comes and we haven’t made a shift, I think in these last 10 years it’s been the blending of music. The blending of genres has been the real big thing. There are still styles and sounds that are still coming about, but the blending has been the true mark of 2010–2017. As long as we’re still progressing in that way, you can’t truly criticize it, because it’s different. It is new. It’s not what you did, and you shouldn’t want us to do what you did. We might mess around and do it better, you don’t want that. [Laughs]
If you weren’t an artist, what would be your other dream job? Not necessarily your Plan B.
I would be a sports journalist or a television personality for some type of debate show, whether it be First Take on ESPN [or] Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. Nick Wright and Cris Carter have a show called First Things First. I love sports talk. Or, if I couldn’t do pro sports, I would try to get into pro wrestling talk. I love pro wrestling. Wale’s big on it, too. Matter of fact, he was a part of it. Three weeks ago he was in there, and they did a rap battle. I was like, “Oh come on, it’s gonna suck.” It was really good! It was awesome. It was this team The New Day, three black guys; and then The Usos, two Pacific Islanders. I was very impressed. I can’t think of a bunch of artists who are super into it like I am, but pro wrestling, basketball, football. I’d be best at pro wrestling and basketball.
What’s the last game that had you stressed out?
Oh my God. What was the game that KD [Kevin Durant] hit that shot. I think it was Game 4 of the NBA Finals. KD pulled up and hit that three [pointer] right in front of LeBron [James]. And you knew it was 3-1? That was it. I was stressed.
Let’s touch on Lolla one last time. Who are you excited to see?
I haven’t had the chance to watch the entirety of anybody’s set. We‘ve been moving about a whole bunch these past few days. If I get lucky, I can see Noname. I saw a little bit of Russ, 21 Savage, saw a little Chance, Little Dragon. We watched some of Glass Animals. They had the rotating pineapple; that was amazing. Tegan and Sara had a blow-up ampersand, and that was it. Just a big “and” with just them two. It was perfect. Zara Larsson is someone I found out about, which sounds crazy because she has 3 million Instagram followers. But I just found out about her at this festival. She sang her butt off. It’s introduced me to people and see people who I’ve been fans of for some time, so I’ve enjoyed it.
For your debut set, what was the experience like being on stage in front of all those people?
I love the big stage outdoors because people are there for the fun, they’re there for the party. So the experience of just bringing on true friends from San Antonio, guys that I know their hopes and dreams, and knowing that was part of realizing it live? We also premiered a couple new songs, “Running ‘Round” and “Stuck,” two new records that’ll come out later this year. Also, having the chance to go full Stone Cold [Steve Austin]. I had on the Stone Cold jersey. I did the beer thing afterwards, and I don’t even drink beer, but I had to do it! It was so fun, and I still can barely believe I even did it. No disrespect to them, but I did AfroPunk last year, and that was my first-ever festival, but doing… I think the U.S. has, like, four true majors: Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and ACL [Austin City Limits]. You have newer ones coming up like Governors Ball, Made in America, but the core four there, to be a part of any one of those is wild. This was weird that I did it.
Nervous at all?
It wasn’t nerves. I was so happy to just do it. I’m just excited, because I knew I had my guys. But that was only the second time I’ve used a band, so having my guys there, I was happy for them. I had been on tour with Little Dragon these past few days, and all I had to do was just do what we’ve been doing. A little bit of new fun add-ins, but just go have fun. So, no nerves this time.