I like to get into the proper mood for all my reviews, so in anticipation of Bow Wow and Omarion’s new collaborative album Face Off, it seemed only right that I embrace my inner teenage girl. I figured it’d be easy: I’d write all over my notebooks in white out, spend five hours on the phone with my best friend, and hyperventilate whenever I looked at a picture of the dreamy duo. Well, things didn’t go as planned. It turns out I don’t even own white out, my best friend hung up on me to …
DJBooth Album Review
Don’t worry, I won’t let my inability to relate to Bow Wow and Omarion’s female fan base stop me from fully delving into Face Off’s twists and turns. Now there’s a certain segment of the hip-hop community who have already decided Face Off is terrible, but those of us who believe our personal musical tastes aren’t the definitive measure of musical worthiness can at least appreciate the demographic genius of the duo. Omarion plays the smooth-singing R&B ladies man with a golden voice, while Bow Wow embraces the “rapper bad boy” role without hesitation (he’s even got tattoos!). Together the pair (who I’ll jointly call “OWowion” from now on) form an absolute teen juggernaut. Surprisingly, Face Off comes through on the musical side of the equation too by concocting an enjoyable blueprint for hip-pop success.
It’s ultimately too easy to dismiss OWowion as merely pretty faces, particularly the Omarion side of the equation. O has proven that given the right guidance he can produce perfectly respectable hits (see Icebox), and Face Off continues to show glimpses of the artists he could become. The arrestingly electronic Bachelor Pad tries to recreate the Icebox magic by featuring the kind of mind-boggling production from Timbaland that’s incredibly become routine. Omarion makes the most of his limited air time with unexpectedly creative vocal flourishes, but the tired subject matter (take a wild guess what it’s about) will limit Bachelor Pad from enjoying Icebox-esque popularity. The Spanish Harlem-style Number Ones again shows the grown man potential of the former B2K leading boy; while I would suggest he either work on his accent or never sing in Spanish again, O’s verse is the work of a singer who understands how to ride a beat. I’m man enough to admit I enjoy the occasional Omarion joint. Are you?
As open-minded as I’m trying to be I just can’t get down with Bow Wow’s newfound pimperish style; he can drop the “Lil” all he wants, I still remember when he was 13 and rhyming about Puppy Love. That’s why I just can’t take tracks like Hood Star seriously; even with a banging Scott Storch beat to back him up Bow’s street swagger comes off as forced. He may drop ad libs like “I’m a boss, watch your mouth boy,” but I find it hard to believe he’d talk that big to some other hip-hop bosses - who else would pay to watch him try that line on Rick Ross? Bow-weezy gets another incredible opportunity to flow over an amazing throwback beat from Def Jam founder Rick Rubin on Hey Baby (Jump Off), but he largely wastes the chance with lines like, “I got one named Brenda/put her on my agenda.” I can’t deny Bow-wizzle is a force in the game, but if he’s looking for respect from the MC community it’s not coming. Plus he had Ciara and messed it up. In my book that’s an unforgivable sin.
It’s no surprise that Face Off reaches it’s chart-topping potential when OWowion use their respective talents to full effect. Girlfriend proves Bow learned a few things from his mentor Jermaine Dupri about turning snap-music into radio gold: the track divides vocal responsibilities straight down the middle with a catchy Omarion chorus and verses from Bow Wow that gives his fans the swagger they want. Girlfriend’s not on my personal playlist, but my niece can’t seem to get enough, and for OWowion that means mission accomplished. I wouldn’t alert the Grammy committee, but Face Off is full of well-crafted tracks like Girlfriend that should give Chris Brown some competition for the hearts of young ladies everywhere. Bow Wow and O just didn’t manage to win my undying love…and I think everyone involved agrees that’s a good thing.
Listen to More: Bow Wow & Omarion Written by Nathan S.
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