Singer tells BET.com why he has to switch things up to keep up with the new R&B talent.
R&B just isn't selling like it used to and no one is being spared. Even Queen B [Beyoncé], whose album will easily claim the #1 spot on the Billboard charts next, is reportedly projected to move under 300,000 units, potentialy her lowest first week sales to date.
However, after 12 years in the game Omarion believes that there's still a lane for traditional R&B music and he's hoping to re-pave it.
"It's really easy for an artist like me who's been in the game so long to become jaded because the game's just changed so much, but I really feel rejuvenated," Omarion told BET.com. "I don't feel like R&B is dead, but I think the industry is trying to make the rapper and the singer exist together and I don't think they do."
Although the former B2K frontman thinks the genres need to be kept separate, this past May he took a cue from his hip hop counterparts and released his first mixtape, The Awakening with DJ Drama as a part of his new approach to putting out music. Mixtapes, while proven critical for many hip hop artists, are still a non-traditional route for R&B singers to take.
Still, O joined a growing number of singers like Trey Songz and Chris Brown to give away free music ahead of a major release, despite some reluctance. "I always used to be opposed to mixtapes because I felt like 'well why don't I just do an album' but then I thought about giving my fans the ultimate gift and the ultimate gift is free music."
The Awakening produced the viral single "Battle" and the sexually charged "Cut A Rug" that Omarion says represents a more honest depiction of the type of music he wants to make. O credits the independent success of artists like Frank Ocean, Wiz Khalifa, and Drake for his new medium of expression.
"You see these indie heads like Wiz Khalifa and Odd Future … You see people like that get famous from the Internet. The game is just totally changed so I feel like it was time for me to do something different… It's really about being honest to me. I think the artists that are really popular right now, why people like them is because people feel like they're honest. Like Drake or Frank Ocean."
Although his route has changed a little, he says he will not sacrifice quality for quantity and that his future projects will still reflect the time, energy and effort he's put into albums in the past, as well as reflect his evolved musical style.
"There's a certain amount of quality that you get when you understand certain things in life. For me, that's what my music is about," he said. "I'm a man, and I'm not just a man because I have responsibilities that obligate me … I call myself a man because of the responsibilities and the acceptance of me being an entertainer and having the power to influence people. I want people to hear my music and be like 'that's a different Omarion.' I just hope people hear my music and don't prejudge me. They just take what I'm on right now because I'm on some new!"
(Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)