After an ugly run-in with New York City rush hour traffic, Omarion makes his 4:30 pm interview time, even after pushing it back an hour later. At an hour where most would be prepping the turn-up for happy hour, O is carrying his baby, Megaa, deep in slumber, followed by a six-person entourage comprised of his massive body guard, publicist, camera man and confidants.
For Omarion, daddy duty is just as much of a full-time gig and passion project as his unwavering career. But this isn’t the same B2K frontman we’ve grown to love. His energy, while still high and cheery as ever, is now a bit more subdued as he carries the title of father.
Fresh off the One Hell of a Nite Tour’s Connecticut stop, O stopped by the VIBE office to catch us up on what’s been going in his world. While holding his sleeping bundle of joy, Omarion talks the unexpected success of “Post To Be,” his fifth album Reasons and his love affair with fatherhood, all while pop-locking in true Maybach O fashion. –Ashley Monaé
VIBE: This past year, you’ve been killing it with “Post To Be.” Million dollar question: Will we ever see you, Jhené and Chris perform the record live?
Omarion: [Laughs.] I think it should be coming up soon. I think it would be dope. We’re always in different places but hopefully soon. Chris and I are on tour so that’s half of the battle. We’re just waiting for Jhené now.
Were you expecting the record to become as big as it did?
Honestly, no. This is the biggest record that I’ve had to date. It was completely unexpected. I guess just showing up to work and always giving your best is really what it takes.
Truly understanding that being an artist is not just a job for me. This is my purpose. That’s probably kept me in the game more than anything because there have definitely been times where I’m been like, “Man, I’m not doing this anymore,” especially when I started to learn the politics [of the game]. When I started getting into that, I was like, “This is crazy.” You know what I mean? It took the joy away from what it is that I do and I love so it’s definitely been the drive–sheer drive, motivation, knowing I belong here, knowing I deserve to have a hit as big as “Post To Be.” Just knowing that I’m on Earth to give music and help people create moments in their lives that’s unforgettable with my music has kept me grounded.
As the summer closes, we’re conjuring up a list of the best songs of this summer. What was one song you can’t stop bumping?
It’s my new album. It ain’t just the new song—it’s the new album. It’s titled Reasons and this is my fifth installment. This is just a different body of work. This is me in my transformation phase coming off of “Post To Be” and Sex Playlist. Sex Playlist was like the birth of creation. I really was happy to be motivated the way that I was by my son, that’s a whole other thing. When you have a child, you really understand what it means to love, to have something to be selfless for. I think that elevates you. It elevates your consciousnesses, your level of thinking, your art and the way you approach it—everything. My son really, really leveled me out. I’m on my wave because of Megaa right here, who is sitting with his mouth open in his interview. My dude is [knocked out]! [Laughs.]
Speaking of fatherhood, you’re on tour with Chris Brown. Have you given him any parenting pointers?
It’s funny because he came to the bus the other day with Royalty, and her and Megs were playing around. Our whole conversation was about them. I mean to have a conversation like that as young fathers is crazy. He was like, “Yeah, so I have a designated play area for Royalty so if Megs wants to come and play,” and I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s cool.” It’s super cool. I can tell that he’s motivated differently these days by being a father now. It’s probably the most selfless thing that can happen to anyone in our position. Growing up in the game, you are taught that you have to make certain harsh decisions and a lot of the time, they are selfish because you want to obtain a certain level [of success]. But when you have a child–well, for me–that all goes away. It’s almost like it ain’t even about you anymore. It’s really about feeding your child.
Although you guys are proud fathers, any crazy or memorable moments from tour yet?
I’m going to be honest with you, it’s been light. This is our second week of shows so we still have time for some crazy things to happen. But thus far, everyone has just been getting in the swing of everything. New city, new spot, trying new records, just figuring it out. The first week and a half has been awesome.
Has any of the other performers surprised you?
I haven’t been able to watch everyone’s shows just yet but for the most part, since I go on right after Fetty Wap and before Kid Ink, so it’s a nice pass of the energy baton. Right after Fetty’s done, the crowd is always amped and I’m like, “Woo!” and send them on their way and pass it off to Ink. It’s been fun.
Back to the album, do you have a release date?
The release date is October 23. Besides it being my fifth installment, I think it’s my most important albums because prior to “Post To Be” and its success, a lot of people were sleep. I always would hear people say, “Omarion is underrated,” or “Omarion doesn’t get the props he deserves,” and I always thought that was interesting because I have had a certain level of success. It’s so interesting now because there are so many reasons why and that’s why I named my album that. Five is the common denominator of this whole thing. I have 15 songs on the album, three times five is 15. Three: that’s me, my son, my lady. Five, 15, fifth installment—I’m just looking at numbers. It’s 2015, things are just adding up and making sense right now and not because of me. I’ve been doing this all along. I’ve always pushed myself and wanted to be better and do different things. Even from the “Touch” Omarion to now, I’m still dancing but in a different way because I don’t have backup dancers with me. I’m constantly challenging myself so it’s cool to see people finally catch up. And then they’re like, “Oh man, the Care Package was dope,” and I’m like, “Um yeah, that’s crazy because nobody downloaded that when it came out.” And now, we’re here so it’s super cool to have another go at the music and it be exciting still. It still be a competition and something that I wake up yearning to do and I don’t feel jaded. I don’t feel like I’m putting records out because I have to. It’s just my art and I love it.
I worked with a small team this time around. Of course, James Fauntleroy, who I would consider a guru and young Yoda in his time because he’s just amazing at what he does. He’s so talented and a great friend of mine. Also, I worked with this producer named Knowledge and Anderson Park, who did six songs on the new Dre album. I also worked with this new young producer named Murder who’s coming out of Toronto. I worked with Stereotypes on the my next single–I can’t wait for people to hear that. Just good energy, great music.
Any dope features?
Well, yeah but they’re sending in their verses right now so I don’t want to say anything and I don’t get the verse. [Laughs.] But expect nothing but the best.
Love & Hip Hop Hollywood‘s second season is premiering soon. You really did an awesome job at not embarrassing yourself like others have done time and time again. What can we expect from you and your family this season?
We got a little TV action, a little music action—we’re all over the place. I want to say that I’m really in my music bag. I’ve got shows, I’m on the road, so you’ll definitely see the challenges of that and being a new father. You see, I’m at the VIBE office with my sleeping son so this is not a game. I need him to know daddy is working hard.
Well, fatherhood suits you well. Are you up to sealing the deal with another newborn anytime soon?
[Laughs.] That would be nice to have a child again.
What’s the most important lesson that Megaa has taught you?
Everything that is supposed to happen [will happen], as far as timing goes. I think people get really wrapped up in time. That’s where I’m starting to understand and figure out, especially with having a young man that I have to raise. It’s all about the time you spend, the hours you spend, the focus, all of that. A lot of people wouldn’t deem what I’m doing parental, especially when you’re an artist and you’re creating a perception and a concept for the type of music that you make. But it’s like, “Why not?” Why not be the young swaggy father? Why can’t I be the poster child for that? I think it’s truly about being honest about who you are. People really gravitate towards that and I’m finding more and more that it’s not about how people see you but knowing yourself. When you know yourself, you create your best work.
[Photos by Ian Reid]