Maybach Music Group’s Omarion: ‘The Music Is Sounding Good Right Now’
There’s a large gulf between the pursed lips of the defunct R&B group B2K and Maybach Music Group’s lobster bisque, but somehow, some way, Omarion is bridging it. (Sometimes through dance steps; we’ll get to that.) Rick Ross signed the former B2K member to be his crew’s in-house romantic, and he’s embracing the role. It’s an appealing move, so far: on Self Made 2‘s “MIA,” Omarion sounds tougher than usual; Wale, a little softer. This Valentine’s Day, O was in New York, performing on 106 & Park, hosting a listening party with Ross for his upcoming album Love & Other Drugs, and presumably making some lonely girls’ nights. But just like that, early the next morning, he was gone, on his way to LGA, headed to Fort Lauderdale. Just like a man.
First of all, I need to ask the question on everyone’s mind just so we can get it out of the way. How many times a day do you hear the Maybach Music drop?
[Laughs] Yo, no one’s ever asked me that! That’s hilarious. Um . . . if I could probably count . . . I heard it, like, 15 or 20 times on this show we just did yesterday, on 106 & Park.
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I need to ask you about the BET Awards. It‘s your first time really stepping out as a member of MMG, you‘re performing “Ice Cold,“ there‘s a lot of momentum leading to this point. Then you do this dance, all of the comments are negative, and that‘s now the running narrative. Would you have done it again?
Yeah. Yeah, probably. I always tell people that was like a great learning experience for me, because I am reestablishing myself. Because I’ve been doing this for so long, a lot of people feel like they know me. Even if they’re not super-Omarion fans, they’re like, OK, we’ve seen this guy, we know this guy. So, coming out on the stage like that was kind of reminiscent of my old high-level-energy self. It’s an example of an adjustment that I’ve wanted to make, because people only see a few dimensions of me – just dancing and performing. To answer your question: I wouldn’t take it back, just because it’s so true to me, who I believe to be. But at the same time, with a different audience, at a different time . . . I don’t know if people were prepared for that.
Well, let me ask you this – did you plan your entrance ahead of time, or was it just something you felt in the moment?
I mean, it’s been a minute since I’ve been onstage at an awards show or something of that magnitude. The only thing people could reference to me having that type of energy is, like, my start – being in the group, my solo stuff, “Touch.” Seeing that, that’s all they could reference. And then, too, it was a hip-hop crowd. It wasn’t like I was Hammer and had 50 dancers. I mean, it was just me. But like I said, I feel like it was an organic me. I stepped onto the stage and just had a high level of energy and performance – that’s all I know how to give. Truthfully, that’s just not what people are used to seeing anymore.
You’ve got an album coming out, Love & Other Drugs. The only thing I know about the movie is that Anne Hathaway went topless. What about the movie spoke to you, or is it just a title?
[Laughs] Well, no, it speaks a lot of volumes to my music and life, in general. I believe love is a drug. Everyone says that when you experience love in a real way, it shifts your life. Or when you get your heart broken for the first time. You either decide to be a part of the class that’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to love like this again,” or you become the part of the class that’s like, “I could love harder.” But yeah, the music is sounding good right now. I’m working with some new producers and of course some classics – I’m working with Pharrell. I’ve got some collaborations.
Any chance you’ll reunite with Timbaland?
Yeah, me and Rozay actually had a conversation about Tim. Sonically, my best connections were of course on records like “Touch” and “Ice Box.” Timbaland and Pharrell have always truly been important figures to me, and I’ve always wanted to work for them, so I would love to work with him on this album. I think Rozay’s gonna arrange that.
He is a boss, so he sort of has to.
Right! He is, he is.
How often do people approach you to dance-off?
Man, all the time. You’d be surprised! I actually was walking through the airport just now and a young lady – I don’t even think I was dancing. But I’m not mad, though! I’m not mad. I grew up on Michael Jackson! Performing and dancing is just another universal language that, if you really delve into it, it changes people’s lives. That’s what I’m here for, you know? We just changing lives.
A few years ago, news stories started popping up saying that you were Jehovah’s Witness. And I saw a tweet you put out recently, saying that you’re trying to stay true to that. Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses are super-strict, and R&B is super-sexual. Have you ever made compromises between your faith and your job?
Well, technically, I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness. You have to be baptized in order to be Jehovah’s Witness; they are Christian. I’ve had the opportunity to experience a lot of things at a young age. And I’ve always felt like there was a driving force, something special regarding the things that have happened in my life. I definitely feel like there are some things I’m going to have to change in my life, eventually. But I feel like if Prince can do it, then anybody can do it.
That’s absolutely true – if Prince can do it, anyone can.
It’s true, because he was purp’d up. I mean, you know. That’s the man right there. [Laughs] Michael Jackson and his family, they studied it, too. It’s not a religion I grew up on – none of my family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses, just me – and it’s an interesting religion and practice. One day I’ll probably have to sit down somewhere and . . . chill out. [Laughs]
For a while, you and Bow Wow were inseparable, and then you weren’t seen together for four years. There were rumors that you left YMCMB because he signed to Cash Money. But now he’s at 106 & Park, and you’ve been on there to promote stuff and things seem OK. What is the state of yours and Bow Wow’s friendship?
The thing that’s probably the most obvious is that we’ve both been in the game as long as we have, throughout the ups and downs, throughout the transitions, throughout the times that people counted us out and thought we was over. That’s one thing that we’ll always have in common we’ve had a lot of success together, so we’ll always have a respect for each other. You know, I’m older than Bow – I’ll be 29 this year. I believe he’ll be, like, 25. There’s always been, like, a brotherly camaraderie, and after he had his daughter, Bow really matured as a man. Where he is today, he’s in a good place, just like I’m in a good place.
Listen, he’s a guy who’s ended friendships because of video games and Soulja Boy driving the wrong Lamborghini, so nothing surprises me when it comes to Bow’s interpersonal relationships.
[Laughs] Right, right, right. Well, I was gonna say that, but without saying it.
I can’t think of two people more different than you and Gunplay. What was your first conversation like?
Gunplay actually is one of the first MMG, Triple C’s members that I met. Well, besides Rozay. Because Gunplay early on would travel with Rozay all the time. I’d see Gunplay and be like, Yo what’s up?! Gunplay’s a cool dude. He’s just a cool dude.
I feel like every time I’ve seen him, he’s been zonked out of his mind. I’m sure you’ve had different encounters with him, though.
[Laughs] Well, you know, we all have our point of views and our own biases. Some people feel like I’m weird, but you know, I don’t. I feel like I’m pretty normal . . . for a weird guy.