But in 2020, it’s without question that the true breed of his career success is simply focus— immovable, needle-sharp focus.
Omarion’s pivot into solo artistry was more foretold than it was forced. His vocal aptitude that positioned him as the lead singer of B2K also placed him as the leader of the Billboard 200 and Top Hip-Hop/R&B albums with his 2005 debut solo project, O. He went on to nab his first Grammy from the project and unleashed his sophomore album, 21, which followed in similar music chart footsteps, claiming the No. 1 spot on the same aforementioned charts. The project also housed “Ice Box,” O’s most critically-acclaimed single to date.
From there, his momentum magnified, later landing him on a top-selling collaborative album with early 2000s peer Bow Wow, a handful of film cameos, a judge’s seat on America’s Best Dance Crew, and a (now former) cast spot on Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood. He brought the highlights of his enduringly triumphant music career full circle with 2019’s Millennium Tour, the B2K-led, nostalgia-peaking reunion for all early 2000s lovers that rounded up some of the biggest R&B and hip-hop acts of the era. The high-grossing tour sold out venues across the U.S. and prompted Omarion to spearhead its second installment, sans the remaining B2K members, with Bow and new additions including Ashanti, Sammie and Soulja Boy.
Now a 35-year-old father of two with a fruitful 20-year industry career to his name, Omarion has breathing room to take it all in. Though this stardom hasn’t come without a few snags— namely a publicly complicated relationship with his former B2K bandmate Fizz— he’s prepared to enter the new decade with an even sturdier focal point on fatherhood, music, dance, and now, mentorship.
In BET.com’s millennial twist on its 21 Questions series, we sat down with the Unbothered King to see which early 2000s relics he favored most and learn more on O's tour life, meditation, solo career journeys and more.
Nintendo Gameboy or Nintendo 64?
Oh, that’s a tough one. Probably Ninento 64. I remember Gameboys being the small thing, and I played more games on the 64.
T-Mobile Sidekick or Blackberry?
Well, those two devices were popping at two different times, and I was part of both of those eras. If I had to choose one, it would be the Sidekick. The Blackberrys were always more businessy and strict communication. The Sidekick was a little more popping; they had the colorways with the white and the gray. It was fly.
Air Force 1s or K Swiss?
Air Force 1s. Personally, I like them because they’re elevated shoes, and I don’t particularly like flat shoes. Air Forces 1s just got that vibe when you’re walking in them, it’s like, this is a shoe shoe. But, I did own some K-Swiss back in the day though, for sure.
Dexter’s Laboratory or Johnny Bravo?
Dexter’s Laboratory because of his funny voice. Johnny was just a suave vibe or whatever. Dexter was more fun.
‘Hey Arnold!’ or ‘All That’?
All That was fire but I don’t really remember a lot of episodes. I think I spent a little more time with Hey Arnold!, so I’d go with him.
Tanks or tall white tees?
Tanks. That was just my vibe, but I’ve definitely owned some tall white tees. The tank is really what you want to be in at the end of the day. You want them arms and that chest to show, ya dig? [Laughs.]
'Word Up! Magazine' or 'The Source'?
Definitely Word Up! because it was more fandom-centered, even with the questions that were asked in the interviews. The Source was more hip-hop-driven. We pretty much should have owned stock in [Word Up!]. We were on the cover every other week! [Laughs.]
AIM or Yahoo! Messenger?
AIM. I feel like AIM was more customizable versus the Yahoo! Messenger. I didn’t really know how that worked.
iPod Shuffle or mp3 player?
iPod shuffle. When the “i” concept came in with Apple, it was a [new] wave compared to other technology. I’m more familiar with the iPod Shuffle.
Braids or low cut caesar with the deep waves?
Braids. They’re an extension. They’re your spiritual antennae [Laughs.] So, my braids help me be spiritually aligned.
Bucket hat or fitted cap?
Probably a fitted. Buckets are a seasonal swag to me. Fitted caps you can rock that year round.
‘Pimp My Ride’ or ‘Cribs’?
Cribs! Cribs was lit—well, until we found out people were renting homes after the damn fact [Laughs.]— and it was a cool concept.
Back then, it helped us see how our favorite artists were really living and how they were feng shui-ing their space, what they’re furniture is like. I can even remember some cribs were like, ew— this person doesn’t clean their house [Laughs.] So, it was Cribs for me. Plus, I was on a few episodes. Xzibit made Pimp My Ride dope, though. If he wasn’t there, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. He had that personality and voice that fit well with it.
So, the public has officially crowned you as the #UnbotheredKing
If you could only choose one to align yourself with, which would it be: meditation or sage?
Meditation. I think meditation is good for the self. Having that moment with yourself and your mind is essential. Sage is good, but you have to really understand what you’re using it for, how you’re using it and the correct way to use it. Those things have to align.
In B2K’s prime, your fanbase was mainly comprised of teenage girls...
Who are grown women now, by the way!
Do you meet any guys who were fans of B2K when they were teens after getting put on by their girlfriends or their sisters?
Every now and then, I do. As you know, and the rest of the world, as men we don’t always express ourselves in the same way as women. We always feel like there has to be a right time to go up to someone and be like, “Aye! I’m a fan of your work.” One thing I do get from my songs that have to do with women is guys who will say, “Aye, I got some girls to that song right there, O!” That’s how I’ve observed that they express my influence with them. Women, you all feel comfortable to [express your adoration].
For touring, would you rather a tour bus or private jet?
A tour bus. Flying private is cool, but the tour bus is like a home that you can decorate. You’re driving, sometimes, 10 and 12 hours state to state. I love my bus. It’s called The Purple Cloud. It’s all decked out in purple.
Being in this industry as long as you have, what would 35-year-old solo artist Omarion tell 16-year-old Omarion?
The same thing Pharrell Williams told me at that age, which was to just keep going. I received that message. As a creative, it’s one thing that truly stifles creativity, and that’s life. Everyone has to go through it, everyone has to face challenges in it. If you just keep going, despite whatever situations happen, you’ll always come out on the other side with knowledge or just gratitude that you never stopped.
Last year, women in rap dominated the music industry. Are there any that you’d be interested in collaborating with?
There are none that immediately come to mind, but I do think women in hip-hop right now are interesting. The dialogue, the rhetoric, the punch lines, and the creativity. I don’t know that it’s geared towards empowering anything that has to do with men. I don’t listen to it and say, “Oh, I feel that!” It’s driven around self-empowerment and women’s empowerment, which is cool, by the way! But for me, I don’t think of a female rap artist off the bat. I do like a lot of the singles that are dropping right now.
As someone who’s been on a reality show, what’s the best way to balance your public and private live?
I think that you have to be aware of what you want out of those spaces. That’s what has kept me balanced because reality television is not super positive all the time, especially with regard to how it’s promoted. It’s difficult because you have to create this drama for your life and then shoot it. Then, six months go by and it’s in the public domain and you have to go through the sh** again with everybody, but publicly. So, as long as you live in your truth, it’s all good. That’s what helps me maintain.
What do you enjoy most about being a #GirlDad?
First of all, my daughter just brightens my day. My son, he’s like me, he’s cool. There’s a different vibe between us. But her glow when she sees me, there’s nothing more special than that. Her birthday is also coming up on [March] 7th.
What advice would you have for newly solo artists who were previously part of a group, but are now journeying into solo careers?
Just continue honing in on your craft. When you’re in the business, it’s already hard enough to keep producing. Continue to have fun and work hard.
You have to know it doesn’t stop. You have to figure out where you want to be, make goals that lead to that, conquer those goals, and then take a break. It’s important to take a break. It’s also difficult because people may be attached to a certain successful song or want to hear a specific sound from you. So, if you don’t create enough space in between your projects, the demand will constantly be for you to reproduce what already exists. You also have to feel free to change because things change, and people will too. Don’t be afraid to do your thing.
Outside of your artistry, what are you looking to accomplish in 2020 that you didn’t in the 2010s?
Back when I first started as an artist, being very young, there weren’t many business moguls who were also artists. Now, I feel like that’s sort of the criteria. You know, the Jay-Zs of the world. That now exists, so for me, I want to continue to grow my OWW [Omarion Worldwide] brand. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity with my son, but anyone else outside of my children, I’d like to be able to help artists. I know that the game is kind of missing real artist development, so I’d love to help artists clear their vision or start their own dance studios. I just want to help.