NEW YORK — You don’t become the world’s most screamed-at boy group by lollygagging. Time is always of the essence. But on Thursday, while in New York for the Long Island date of their Scream III tour, B2K were especially busy.
Omarion, J-Boog, Raz-B and Lil Fizz, who were also traveling with IMX’s Marques Houston and Romeo, hit the streets, the airwaves and the bling spots before hitting the stage that night.
So what’s a day like with B2K? Well, the guys throw around four-letter words like any other teens, but their favorite term is “young.” The way New Yorkers refer to friends as “son,” B2K say “young,” short for “young’un.”
And the rule for surviving a tough workday is to get rest in where you can fit it, even if it means taking naps at the radio station before interviews.
The day officially started with the guys riding almost six hours through the night from Rochester to make an 8 a.m. slot on radio station WBLS-FM’s syndicated “Doug Banks Morning Show.”
|Photos: A Day With B2K|
“I don’t know what I want, all I know is that I don’t want no McDonald’s,” Lil Fizz told his tour publicist. The radio personality was conducting the interview from down South, so B2K took the liberty to lounge in his absence.
Omarion, still feeling the effects of not getting enough sleep, jumped on a table and laid out, while Boog, who wore a red fitted cap with “The Bishop J-Boog” on the back, slouched in a chair. Raz-B had a headset on, listening to the show while Fizz was in the back of the small studio, cracking jokes with Romeo. But the group’s ponytailed rapper was dead serious when it came to the food.
“Hey, can I get some Sbarro’s?” he asked, refusing to go along with everyone else’s choice of egg-and-cheese and egg-and-sausage sandwiches.
“I’m going to ask y’all to sing something,” Banks told the guys off the air.
“Why do people always want you to sing in the morning?” Boog wondered aloud, noting that it’s hard to perform on point when you’re tired. “Why don’t you ever get asked to sing in the afternoon or night when you’re fresh?”
“What we gonna sing, y’all?” Raz asked the group.
“How does ’Bump’ start?” Omarion, still groggy, asked about the record he sings every night. “No, really, how does ’Bump’ start?” he asked again before Boog reminded him, singing the opening notes, “I like your little sexy style …”
But it would be the crooning of Marques Houston that energized the room. A caller asked the former Immature member to sing the group’s almost decade-old hit “Never Lie.” Houston got down on one knee to sing while B2K backed him up. “I will never lie again,” everybody began as they snapped their fingers. The trip down memory lane sent a wave of laughs around the room.
A little after 9:30 a.m. the guys had to scurry over to Power 105 for Ed Lover and Dr. Dre’s morning show, which ends at 10 a.m. With the New York traffic, of course the group was late. Dre and Ed had invited some girls to the studio to meet the group, and B2K fulfilled the teens’ dreams by signing autographs and giving out hugs.
“OK, listen to me carefully,” Lover told the excited girls, who were sequestered in a small room awaiting the guys. “Listen!” Ed continued, talking to the girls like they were his children. “There’s some expensive equipment in here. Don’t be wilding out.”
“Oh, hi. How you doing?” one of the girls surrounding J-Boog said to him. “Did I tell you that you was my husband? You are my husband.”
Across the room, a couple of swooning teens sounded like they were getting ready to fight over Omarion. “I don’t know why she’s hugging him so hard,” one girl told her friend. “She needs to let him breath. Damn, I’m going over there.”
“All of y’all are so happy, but I’m the real happy one today,” Ed Lover said, waving a check in the air. “Today is payday.”
But not just for Ed and Dre — B2K were about shell out the equivalent of some people’s salaries for iced-out watches. “Let’s go get our Jacobs,” Raz-B said, running to the elevator. Of course B2K, Houston and Romeo were mobbed when they came out of the station, but no screaming girl could’ve stopped them from getting in their vans to head for the next destination: the world-famous Jacob the Jeweler.
Pictures of past clients hang on Jacob’s walls, and B2K weren’t going to go another day without being up there with P. Diddy, 50 Cent, Nas, Naomi Campbell, Tyrese, Babyface, Bow Wow, Baby and the others. “You gotta get one,” Omarion said of his wrist’s eye candy. “We’re official now, baby boy.”
While the guys had a closed-door meeting with Jacob for their diamond-flooded watches, some of the girls walked over from Power 105.
“I feel like a stalker,” one girl said to a B2K bodyguard. “Do they think we stalking hem? We’ve been to four Scream shows already and we’re going again tonight. We’ve been following them since late 2002. You think we’re stalking them?”
“Yeah, something like that,” he replied.
“Well, we’re never going to stop going to their shows,” the girl’s friend jumped in, getting a little indignant. “They can be 60-something in wheelchairs and I’ll be like, ’Go ahead, J-Boog, work it out.’ ”
After paying for their jewels and doing an interview for “BET Nightly News,” everyone was getting weary. As soon as they got into the studio to tape an interview with Big Tigger, everyone except for Raz-B, who had to make a phone call, was laid out on the floor taking naps. Later, Lil Fizz and Omarion even tried to sneak in a few winks between taping promos for the channel.
No one was sleeping almost an hour later when they were live on air during yet another interview. This time they were chatting with Wendy Williams, who has a rep for digging up dirt during interviews. She compared Raz-B to Tito Jackson and Ronnie DeVoe, asked Omarion about his relationship with Solange Knowles and then turned the topic to sex. She also stiff-armed them on the air into giving her 10 backstage passes for Saturday’s concert and letting her protégé Lil’ Miss Na Na open Thursday’s show.
With the 7:30 start of the concert creeping up, the guys had to make the 90-minute drive to the venue, but nobody wanted to leave until they’d picked up their watches.
“We’re never going to make the show,” Omarion said, factoring in the time it would take for the pickup and the traffic.
“We don’t get onstage till 9:30, young,” Fizz told everybody. “Even with traffic, we don’t get onstage till 9:30. We have plenty of time.”
While O and Raz-B went to Jacob’s, Romeo, Houston, Fizz and Boog went to another store to fix Fizz’s iced-out platinum soda can charm. (Soda fizzes, get it?)
“Oh my God, my love is in that store,” a crying girl, who happened to be walking by, yelled after spotting the singing crew inside. “I loved Marques since I was 7 years old. That’s my love.”
With wrists and fingers properly bejeweled, it was time to start the second part of their day by hitting Jones Beach for the show. “All the work we had to do was crazy,” the Bishop Boog said backstage while Houston was performing.
“This was the craziest day so far on the tour,” O agreed. “I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be a lot more crazy days. This is what we do.”