If Raz-B, Lil Fizz and J-Boog listen to “Growing Pains,” they’ll probably be none too happy. On the track from his solo debut, O, former B2K member Omarion pulls no punches in spilling his feelings about the group’s split.
“Even though I was sour, I tried to be a man/ I couldn’t hold a grudge/ Knowing in my heart I still had love/ But if y’all knew what went down, you’d be like, ‘What the f—!’ ” Omarion sings over the slinky beat and Spanish guitar.
“I tried to get real specific on that song, because a lot of people don’t understand what happened,” Omarion said of the track, in which he calls out unnamed people for causing the rift and badmouthing him.”People be like, ‘Y’all stupid, why’d you break up?’ But when we got together, we were taught that in order to be a successful group you have to have an unbreakable bond. But things went wrong in our relationship and it wasn’t hard to write [that song] because when you go through something like that you know exactly what you want to say.”
With that off his chest, Omarion doesn’t dwell on the past on the rest of O, due February 22, concentrating instead on finding someone to help him forget the bad times. On the sexed-up club banger “Take It Off,” over a booming handclap beat, he urges, “Mama, shake it/ Mama, twurk it/ Girl, I love it the way you work it/ So mama, can you take it off?” O swears the song’s just about having fun … with your clothes on.
“This is a coming-of-age record and this is just one of them club joints,” the 20-year-old singer said. “When I watch TV sometimes, like ‘Wild On,’ I see those wild parties all over the world with, like, bubble machines and stuff, and when I was writing that joint I was envisioning everyone in the club getting excited when they heard it to the point that they wanted to take their clothes off. But not get completely nekkid!”
For one of the album’s other club tracks, the spare dance groove “Drop That Heater,” whose beat sounds like chopsticks tapping on a countertop, Omarion enlisted a pair of ace producers to give him the right bounce. Produced and performed by Rodney Jerkins (Jennifer Lopez) with co-production and backing vocals by Sean Garrett (Ciara’s “Goodies”), the song happened so fast Omarion almost wishes it had taken a bit longer.
“I’ve always wanted to work with Rodney Jerkins and we just went to his crib and he played me the beat, just a kick and a snare and he just put the bass roll on top and that was it,” he said. “Right after that he sent the joint over with the music all fixed and it’s the most bangin’ beat on the album.”
After making some noise with his first solo single, the between-the-sheets ballad “O,” Omarion is gearing up to shoot a video for “Touch,” a classic Neptunes track with slick keyboards, backing vocals from Pharrell, and, of course, that signature, insistent Neptunes bounce.
The album also features production from Atlanta’s Corna Boyz (Usher), the Underdogs (B2K) and Allstar (3LW) and a cameo from Outkast’s Big Boi (see “Omarion Adds Big Collaborator To Solo LP: Outkast’s Big Boi” ) on the old-school funk tune “Never Gonna Let You Go,” which samples a classic Kool & the Gang song.
“That’s just some feel-good music,” Omarion said of the horn-laced ode to finding the perfect girl. “I want people to not think about a thing in the world and just have fun when they hear that one. It’s music like my parents and grandma would enjoy.”
To read an excerpt from Omarion’s new book, “O,” check out “Omarion: In His Own Words.”