Interview by Souleo (excerpted from December 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine)
After taking some time off to reflect on his career and life, Omarion returns with a new deal through EMI, his own label Starworld Entrainment, plus a new album titled Ollusion. Omarion opened up about embracing his manhood and taking control of his life, why he doesn’t always care to respond to negative press, the truth about his exit from Young Money, why he feels disrespected by two former B2K members, and the rumor that he got married.
Souleo: Before we got on the phone I was reading your Twitter page. You always tweet about being positive and motivated. Where does that positive energy come from?
Omarion: I think when you have that outlook on life, it’s a lot easier. Life always has its twists and turns, but when you keep yourself positive and know there will be a brighter day, it keeps you optimistic. I’ve been living my life like this and I want to share that with people.
Souleo: Usually when someone has that outlook and they overcome a challenge, they come out on the other side even more motivated. So what challenges have made your positive energy increase tenfold?
Omarion: I would say, at this moment, manhood. When you’re an entertainer and have people cater to you all your life since 14—I’ve always been independent ’cause my mom was a single mother. I was oldest of four so I always had this mature persona, but to actually know the different people that play the different roles in my life—like my business manager or my assistant—I now understand why I hire these people. Truthfully, a man can do for himself and doesn’t need anybody. But I had help all my life, so it was a challenge for me to step back and say I want to deal with this on my own. I want to be able to know what it feels like to not have a spending limit. So these experiences in life have balanced me into not living a fictitious, entertainer-driven lifestyle. I think the persona of an entertainer can be misunderstood. When you’re popular and successful, the only thing that seems to matter is your fame. You wonder, how am I gonna look when I arrive? Who is gonna be there? It becomes so self-consuming, and I believe part of being a man is being able to give. So, to answer your question, with all that I said, the thing that has kept me balanced and optimistic is manhood.
Souleo: With so much help surrounding you, was there a point when you were becoming spoiled and losing focus of the big picture?
Omarion: Don’t get me wrong, we are all spoiled in some kind of way. But I wasn’t spoiled to the point where I didn’t give back at all. I still have friends and family who tell me to get my own luggage outta the truck. So those things kept me regular.
Souleo: Would you say you are at a point where you have fully arrived in your manhood or are you still making that transition?
Omarion: I would say that I’ve arrived. The only reason I say that is because everything seems so much more clear now: what I want in a woman, in a relationship and the music business. I have all these answers.
Souleo: You mentioned that, as an artist, you can be misunderstood. What is one of the most misunderstood things about you?
Omarion: I think sometimes people take my kindness for weakness. When stuff comes out in the press and they relate it to my situation—like Young Money or B2K or anything negative—’cause I don’t respond to it the people that have negative things to say think I’m weak. I think the biggest misconception about me is that I am not here. People forget that God and my fans have blessed me with three consecutive #1 albums, so Omarion hasn’t gone anywhere. I took this time to figure out who I was as a man and human being. So now I am back.
Souleo: Do you think you need to stand up for yourself a little more and be assertive when it comes to the negativity?
Omarion: No, I think the high road is always the best option. To be able to sit back and say, “It’s okay.” I think everyone gets an opportunity to speak like I’m speaking to you. And when I speak about it I do it truthfully.
Souleo: That approach helps to not build up any bitterness or resentment. You mentioned Young Money—and now you have the EMI deal, which is a real big move for you.
Omarion: It feels amazing. When you have a record company or any people that have money involved, they want input. A lot of times that can conflict with the vision, ’cause you want to please them as well. EMI told me to be who I am, so I think I’m in a position to showcase who I am as an artist. I’m not even at my peak yet and I took my time to make sure this was the best move. I am so excited. As an entrepreneur I have Starworld Entertainment and I have my own artist. It’s a beautiful thing.
Souleo: Before EMI you were in talks to sign with Timbaland and that fell through.
Omarion: It was similar to the same thing with Young Money. I really felt like where Timbaland is right now and him being a super-huge producer, I didn’t feel like I could have the relationship and get the respect [I need from him]. When people hear Timbaland and what he did for Justin [Timberlake], as a solo artist you want that bond with a producer. You want them to call and say, “I just created this monster for you.” Initially that was my idea ’cause me and Timbaland really bonded on that level when we spoke. But as a solo artist, I felt like I needed a certain amount of attention and Timbaland couldn’t give that to me. So I moved on to Young Money and I felt like I could have that freedom. But, at the same time, [Lil’] Wayne is an entity. With the idols I look up to, they were never branded as part of a camp, and their boss wasn’t an artist. So that was the reason why I stepped back and was like, I need to make the best decision for me. I don’t have no hard feelings with Timbaland or Wayne, and I don’t think there are any hard feelings. I just feel like I made the best decision.
Souleo: How did you get the deal in the first place with Lil’ Wayne?
Omarion: Really, it was a conversation me and Wayne had. I told him about the Timbaland situation; I explained all that I told you and he was into it.
Pick up the December 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister to read more about Omarion’s past relationship with Young Money.