Being followed by mobs of adoring fans may sound like a good thing, but ultimately early success for young artists is more of a curse than a blessing. From ‘70s teen heartthrobs like David Cassidy to modern boy bands like the Backstreet Boys, the transition from playing shows for hyperventilating teenage girls to earning respect from fellow adults is an treacherous one that almost always results in artists either rehashing their teenage years for the rest of their careers (careful Soulja Boy) or slowly but surely fading into obscurity (who’s in Pretty Ricky again?). At … ...Read the full album review
DJBooth Album Review
Being followed by mobs of adoring fans may sound like a good thing, but ultimately early success for young artists is more of a curse than a blessing. From ‘70s teen heartthrobs like David Cassidy to modern boy bands like the Backstreet Boys, the transition from playing shows for hyperventilating teenage girls to earning respect from fellow adults is an treacherous one that almost always results in artists either rehashing their teenage years for the rest of their careers (careful Soulja Boy) or slowly but surely fading into obscurity (who’s in Pretty Ricky again?). At 25-years-old Omarion is still very much in the midst of a battle to become a grown man in the music industry without losing his original fan base, and as his new album Ollusion shows, it’s a battle he’s mostly winning. Mostly.
Omarion announced his presence on the adult r&b scene with his smash hit Ice Box, but it’s been four years since his last solo album, and in the meantime his only release was Face Off, that while commercially successful was an artistic regression for O. So while I hoped Omarion wasn’t going to pump out an album full of LOL Smiley Faces, I couldn’t be sure until I finally heard Ollusion, and once I did, I’m happy to report the man is very much…well… a man.
Luckily there are only traces of the B2k-era Omarion on Ollusion, and those traces are in relatively small doses. Point is, if you’ve been banging Hoodie, I won’t hate. The beat, by 253 - who produced the majority of the album - is catchy and the subject matter’s shallow, a mix that while entertaining isn’t enough to make me want to listen twice. But Omarion didn’t make this album for me, and if Hoodie is the album’s sole attempt to connect to the younger set, and it is, I can live with that.
The rest of Ollusion can loosely be divided into songs about f**king and songs about partying, and since I like to save the best for last, we’ll start with the partying; although I guess I Get It In could be about f**king too…you know what, let’s move on before I get fined by the FCC. The album’s lead single, I Get It In relies on a marching band style beat and a Gucci Mane verse to attract attention, but it’s Omarion’s heavily stylized vocals and hook that make it a true guilty pleasure joint. Basically it’s Hoodie for the 21-plus club going set. The album’s other up-tempo joints, I Think My Girl is Bi and Code Red, are even further along on the guilty pleasure scale, though while My Girl Is Bi at least has music video hit written all over it, Code Red is nothing but a collection of club banger clichés.
Ollusion truly distinguishes itself when Omarion turns his focus squarely on sex and relationships, as exemplified by the new second single Speedin’. Possibly the best song he’s ever done, Speedin’ echoes around a minimalist piano melody and stark drums, a backdrop Omarion uses to drop the kind of emotionally charged vocals many doubters thought he wasn’t capable of. If you’re looking for a sign that Omarion will still be here ten years from now, this is it. The rest of Ollusion focuses almost exclusively on the “sex” portion of the “sex and relationships” portion of the program. While Last Night (Kinkos) engages in some amusing R. Kelly-esque fantasies involving a certain Kinkos employee and a copy machine, the album’s other offerings are more sophisticated, starting with the temptingly subdued Sweet Hangover, stopping to turn down the advances of a female admire to stay faithful to his girlfriend on Temptation and finishing with Wet, a steamy six-minute ballad that’s easily earned Omarion his first parental advisory sticker. He’s still got a long way to go before he can match the bedroom prowess (musically speaking) of The-Dream or the aforementioned Kells, but as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. would say, the kid’s got tremendous upside potential.
Almost no one makes it through the teen star to adult star gauntlet in one piece, in fact, Justin Timberlake’s the only artist I can think of to truly pull it off, but while Omarion’s still got a long way, Ollusion proves he’s well on his way. Good luck O, we’re pulling for you.
Listen to More: Omarion Written by Nathan S.
Maybach Music Group
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Ice Box ft. Timbaland" (2006)
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