“This is definitely a new age for me,” Omarion tells Rated R&B over a phone conversation. It’s a December afternoon, and the R&B veteran is reflecting on the last few years of his music career. He likens his 2020 project, The Kinection, to the launch of a new musical era. It was the first album he independently released under his company Omarion Worldwide.
“It comes a time when you’re doing something for so long where you have to check in with yourself and say: ‘What am I doing this for? Am I doing this for me? Am I doing this for people? What’s the purpose of this?’” he shares. “It’s this constant arriving to myself. The aesthetics change. The message gets deeper. The focus has been more on my message, frequency [and] the feeling I want to give people.”
In 2023, Omarion ambitiously released two albums: Full Circle: Sonic Book One in May and Full Circle: Sonic Book Two in December. (He also released an Alt Sounds Pack for Sonic Book One in July with sped-up, instrumental and acapella versions of every track.) “It’s funny because I still have more music in the clip,” he teases.
Omarion’s more consistent release schedule is a perk of running his own label and having complete autonomy over his music. “For a long time, I did not have full control of my output as an artist being under labels [and] time constraints,” he notes. “Building up my company [Omarion Worldwide] and taking responsibility for my output is the reason why I’m able to put so much music out.”
Following his departure from B2K, Omarion released his solo debut album, O, in 2005 via Epic Records. Omarion’s first solo effort debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and scored him a nod at the 48th Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary R&B Album. His 2006 sophomore album, 21, also debuted atop the Billboard 200. Omarion teamed up with rap sensation Bow Wow the following year for a joint album, Face Off, released via Columbia Records. It opened at No. 11 on the Billboard 200.
Over the next few years, Omarion would change labels on multiple occasions. After asking to be released from Columbia Records, he signed with Timbaland’s Mosely Music Group (2008) and then briefly to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment (2009). He didn’t release a project under either label.
Pressing forward, Omarion struck a deal with EMI Label Services via his StarrWorld Entertainment imprint. His third album, Ollusion, was released Jan. 12, 2010. While Ollusion underperformed compared to his prior albums, his Gucci Mane-assisted bop “I Get It In” did manage to enter the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 83.
Two years later, Omarion signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group/Atlantic Records, where he released his fourth album, Sex Playlist, in 2014. The sensual album included his hit single “Post to Be” featuring Chris Brown and Jhené Aiko, which peaked at No. 13 on the Hot 100. The Mustard and Mike Free-produced track also won Best Collaboration at the 2015 Soul Train Music Awards. While “Post to Be” put Omarion back on the charts, the album was his lowest debut, peaking at No. 49 on the Billboard 200.
Omarion began teasing the release of his fifth album, Reasons, in 2015. However, it was delayed multiple times over the next few years before getting shelved.
In a 2022 interview with The Breakfast Club, Omarion spoke about his departure from Maybach Music Group. He shared his gripes about the lack of support from the label head. “He could have helped more. He could have lent more of a hand than what he was maybe portraying to be,” Omarion commented.
Although Omarion has experienced some hiccups in the past, the King of Unbothered is planted in the present moment. “These are exciting times because I really do love music,” he says gleefully. “To be able to tell this Sonic [Book] story is always a treat for me.”
The 39-year-old’s latest album, Full Circle: Sonic Book Two, takes a deeper dive into the nuances of love and life. The 11-track offering includes features from his brother O’Ryan (“Ice Cream”) and rising singer BJRNCK (“Taking Off”), who also appeared on “Sunny Dayz” from Sonic Book One.
In Rated R&B’s interview with Omarion, the singer talks more about Sonic Book Two, decodes the meaning behind select tracks on the album, explains how being vulnerable is one of his strengths, and gives an update on his long-awaited Passport project with James Fauntleroy.
Your 2020 album, The Kinection, seemed to have launched this new era of Omarion. From the aesthetics of your album covers to even the content you share on social media, there’s this fresh sense of mindfulness. How would you define this moment in your career?
This is definitely a new age for me. Music has always been a foundation for everything creative in my life and a springboard to push me in all sorts of directions. Becoming a father has [also] shifted my message. It has given me keen awareness within the scope of my own heart and emotions. The focus has been more on my message, frequency [and] the feeling I want to give people. How do I want to inspire? What sonic legacy am I leaving behind? It’s been a constant arrival to these different aspects and focuses of myself. Great artists are constantly arriving. I saw this clip of Beyoncé and she was talking about how she is being vulnerable within her music and sharing certain aspects. I think that is the journey of an artist. Also, this AI machine era is like what Full Circle is representative of — this new age of digital and esoteric knowledge.
You mentioned your music is getting deeper. What does a studio session look like when you’re in that vulnerable space of creating?
For this album, I kept a very small team — myself, Greg Curtis and Milton Adams, a wonderful writer — to help me curate a different message to tell my experience through sound. The studio session looks like having real conversations and sharing perspectives. It’s a collective expression coming through a source. My ideas are different from Greg’s ideas. Greg’s ideas are different from mine [and] Milton’s, so it’s this gumbo pot of experience. Vulnerability is something that has become a superpower for me. Having full autonomy in the creative space [and] being vulnerable are all of my recipes to make timeless music.
How would you compare Sonic Book Two to Sonic Book One?
Sonic Book One is more of what I feel people want to hear. I think we are in a space where people want to hear upbeat music. They want to definitely get the R&B tunes, but maybe not so deep. Sonic Book Two is more in-depth. It’s deeper. It’s needed to put the listener in more of a reflective state. When listening to Sonic Book One and Sonic Book Two, you have to be listening with this perspective of love [and] knowing yourself. We live in a world where social media props you up to live this perfect life [and] it’s not that way.
The album opens with “Black Magic.” What was your intention behind that song?
Black magic has always been a taboo thing. I remember getting the Voodoo album and not really understanding all of the layers of what D’Angelo was doing. That was a highly influential album for me, sonically, as a musician. That album kind of matured me, in a way. I always like to pay homage to the people and the music that inspires me. Shout out to Mitone. He played me [“Black Magic”], and I love the metaphors. I love how, even though it seemed like a taboo thing, it was a deeper message. I’m speaking about the womb — the womb being when I had kids. I never understood what a miracle was until I saw my child being born. Me engaging in the love act and creating a child, there’s this space that exists out of lightness.
In the visualizer, all of these taboo things on the surface seem like one thing, but once you start diving deep, you’re like, “Wait a minute, there’s so much to this.” “Black Magic” is that song I want the listener to dive a little bit deeper. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. Tap into the occult [and] dig into your black magic because we all have it. Black [is] representative of how everything comes from this dark place. [It’s] not a negative thing — dark being a magical thing [and] a place [where] a spark can happen. There are certain ideas and things that are on the planet, and we can all channel if we dive a little deeper; that’s what “Black Magic” is about.
“O.E.O (Our Eyes Only)” is another standout on the album. What’s the story behind that song?
In a time where OnlyFans is popping and everybody’s sharing everything, they don’t even know what they’re doing it for. People say it’s a monetary game, but there was a time when things were just for our eyes only. The song is talking about those intimate moments. It’s like, “Hey, it’s okay. You capture yourself but keep some things to yourself, especially in an intimate capacity.” It’s like having a memory that no one knows about but only you and your special person. “O.E.O” is one of those songs that just encourages people to keep some things to [themselves]. Enjoy cherishing things.
Speaking of intimacy, “Taking Off” featuring BJRNCK is definitely one for the bedroom.
“Taking Off” is one of those traditional R&B records that has that great mixture of past and future time. It’s not one of those records that feels so raunchy or this type of surface-level intimacy. It lends to that past time when you can put this on in the bedroom and really dive deep into making love with someone. Not too many songs have this sentiment, especially now, when everything is about getting to the point of releasing that serotonin. But it’s like, no, take your time. Enjoy yourself. “Taking Off” is one of those classic R&B lovemaking songs.
“In Search Of” feels like a more personal record. You sing, “Looking for better days / Yeah, I hope I seen the worst of it.” What’s the inspiration behind that song?
A lot of the time on my journey, I had to ask myself deeper questions to find and arrive to a new place. Michael Jackson [and] Stevie Wonder — I can name a million artists — but listening to them, they always had this message. “In Search Of” is something that resonated with me. [It’s] something I know would resonate with a lot of people out there looking for something, not only in an outward way but within themselves. There’s always a place for records that make you dive deeper into being intentional. Also, there’s a release within answering some of those questions we have when we are in such a thing.
Earlier, you mentioned vulnerability as a strength. Which song on the album put you in a more vulnerable space when you were making it?
There [are] two songs that come to mind: “Enough For 2” and “The Usual.” “Enough For 2” because in giving love, you have to really manage your own cut. You have to ask yourself what kind of lover you are. When you’re interfacing with people, how do you want people to pour into you? How are you pouring into others? It essentially becomes a cycle when you are putting out your energy in the world. “Enough For 2” was a challenge because I had to step back when I was singing certain parts of the song. I say, “Walk with me and tell me what you’re missing.” That hit home for me because while I’m asking a question, I’m [also] asking myself. I had to dive deep into expressing if I had enough love for two — for myself and for ‘you.’
The message within “The Usual” is to create boundaries for yourself. When you’re a giver, I believe you go through a cycle of being misused. The lyric is: “Why you wanna come back now, love? / Is it because you’re down, love? / Or is it for the usual?” The usual being that people want to use you like a drug, especially when you’re good. They’ll get their dose and forget to pour into you and support you. That’s a really powerful song because, in a way, you are taking your power back. You are realizing and recognizing who people are. On this journey, we have to do that. We have to create boundaries for ourselves. It’s not a bad thing. When you’re a giver, you have to set those boundaries so you can make sure that your cup is full. Sometimes, we all get depleted, but I want to be able to pour into people.
As someone known for being unbothered, how do you set boundaries?
Man, it’s tough. After the fans dubbed me the King of Unbothered, it was a whole other layer that I had to dive into with creating boundaries for myself. Setting boundaries for yourself is also treating others how you want to be treated. You’ll always have people that don’t know how to treat you, or they’re projecting on you. I’ve been able to maintain that by knowing who I am and doing enough research on myself to say, “When does it feel like it’s too far? When it becomes uncomfortable, how do I deal with that?” I’ve done enough research on myself to recognize and realize the power of knowing myself. That’s how I’m able to navigate. Life is about asking questions and seeking answers that help us protect ourselves to manage our energy better.
What message do you hope to leave for listeners on Full Circle: Sonic Book Two?
Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, even within the scope of the questions you ask yourself. I want people to recognize how powerful music is and manage the people they allow into their mind [and] space. I also want people to enjoy the music on a surface level [and] deeper level. I want them to consider me a hallmark of good vibrations, someone they can trust with their sonic diet.
In 2020, you teased your Passport project with James Fauntleroy. Is that still in the works?
It’s done. It’s in the oven. It’s been just waiting for us to find the right timing to share it with you all. Me and James have a grand plan for y’all when it’s time to roll this thing out. A lot of people may not recognize, but it be a divine time for certain messages. I think we want to add some little new nuances to it, but when you’re making timeless music, it doesn’t get old. I’m so excited to share that album and that story with everyone, and I know James is too. So, be expecting an announcement or something at some point in time. Y’all are going to be getting that soon.
What’s your intention for 2024?
So, 2023 for me was stepping into my know — knowing myself, knowing that sometimes I don’t know. 2024 is going to be another expansive year of allowing things to be. I’m stepping into my being. What does it mean to step into your being? It means to be fully fluid, allow things to happen, be fully present, and enjoy each moment — good, bad or indifferent. 2024 is going to be a year for love, more discovery and exploring deeper intentions. It’s going to be a very successful, abundant year.
Stream Omarion’s new album Full Circle: Sonic Book Two below.