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.
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.’