Blaming a dispute with former manager Chris Stokes, B2K members Raz-B, Lil Fizz and J-Boog refused to make up concert dates with estranged frontman Omarion earlier this month. Now the guys say they have their own summer tour on tap and will make everything up to their fans.
"We're dealing directly with Clear Channel," Raz-B said from Los Angeles. "We're setting it up right now, so that's definitely for sure. We're getting ready to go back on the road this summer, probably with Bow Wow. It's gonna be interesting. Everybody's gonna come out and see if we still got it, if it was a one-man or four-man group. But the talent is here."
Without their frontman, B2K's tour plans naturally raise questions.
"Honestly, man, I really don't know yet because I haven't even been onstage since Omarion left," Raz said of what the summer may hold. "I don't know, because the four of us made B2K, and in a way we are starting over. We're going to be in intense rehearsals. We going to make it so tight, 'cause we can't afford anything to be off. It might be tight, but it won't be the same without Omari."
Omarion said he definitely felt butterflies the first time he stepped onstage without his group (see "Omarion Makes Up B2K Shows; Ex-Bandmates Unveil New Song").
"I was nervous the first show," he admitted about his short string of makeup tour dates. "It was actually just OK. But the second time around I tied up my sneaks and just went out there and did my thing. I knew exactly what I had to do, knew who was with me — my two dancers — and did the show. We killed it."
Once over his initial trepidation, O said hitting the stage solo wasn't too dissimilar from what he used to do with his group.
"As far as the dance moves, it's not a lot different," he said. "The only difference is myself and the two dancers, it's a different energy. From a fan standpoint, it's seeing Omarion for the first time."
O said fans will probably see him onstage again this summer as the headliner of a tour with IMX's Marques Houston and younger sibling O'Ryan.
In the meantime, Omarion is executive producing O'Ryan's project as well as his own debut solo LP (see "Omarion's First Post-B2K Album Due In March"). His former group has already debuted the song "Shake That" with Ray J and look forward to releasing another B2K album as well as solo projects such as Raz and Fizz's tentatively titled Outspoken LP in March.
"It's kind of how our albums should have been a long time ago with R. Kelly, Timbaland and the Neptunes. Just the real, raw best of both worlds," Raz said of the B2K album. The trio are considering the title B2K Presents J-Boog, Raz-B and Lil Fizz. "All the fellas out there could love it and all the girls could shake their butts. It's real cool. It's not popish crossover or anything like 'Bump, Bump, Bump' or 'Badaboom.' It's more on that gritty type of sound like that Ray J song we did."
Ray J has been running tight with B2K for the past few weeks. So tight, in fact, that one of the group's new business partners caused a stir by announcing that Brandy's brother was joining the faction (see "B2K Members Deny Hiring Brandy's Brother To Replace Omarion").
"God, man," Raz said of the collaboration. "Me and the boys were talking about signing Ray J to our label [Supa Fam 3] for a while 'cause we always followed Ray J's career. Not a lot of people believe in Ray J. I walked into the barbershop one day and saw Ray and we was like, 'What's up, man?' It's that simple. I can cut records with him all day. We were cutting so many records we might as well be a group. But nah, I couldn't do that to my fans. We're gonna keep it us three."
"Ray J is actually a cool friend of mine," said Omarion, who added he was initially offended by the Ray J replacement rumors. "He's not going to do the group. That was actually funny to hear because I'm thinking, 'Damn. They already trying to replace a brother?' "
Replacing O is not an option, according to Fizz, Raz and Boog, at least not in the near future. The trio still hold out hope that O will rejoin them.
"I hollered at O," J-Boog revealed. "We talking. At first we was all mad. But what's mad going to get you? Hey, I'll talk to you. I'll slap five 'cause it comes down to business anyway. We can hug all day, but don't mean I'm going to [mess] with you on the business side. O can be managed by Chris, we manage ourselves, get all the contracts right, we can do B2K again."
"I just want to finish all this legal stuff so I can show my boy O maybe he can see the light and be with the crew again," Raz said. "If not, we'll continue to keep moving."