Omarion: The Birth of a Mogul


Omarion's star power was on full wattage as he prepared for a 20-minute interview at the Grand Hyatt in Washington D.C. While completing a couple of rounds of press before taking the stage at the WPGC 95.5 Family First Expo, the melodic sensation, thespian and entrepreneur's charisma filled the mid-sized hotel suite of his patient record company representative. Dressed in a chic wind breaker, crisp jeans and his signature "Loc" shades, the self-assured superstar offered the simple, yet cool greeting of "Gents" as he strolled into the room -- pinpointing his target of lights, camera and action. Of course, this routine is nothing new to the music industry veteran.

Born in Inglewood, California and raised in Los Angeles, Omari Grandberry has witnessed the entertainment business firsthand, as he saw hordes of talent come and go in a city whose avenues are paved with the debris of broken dreams. Encouraged by his mother to develop his talents, Omarion started to take his craft seriously at the tender age of five. It wasn't long before the majors would come knocking, with record producer and manager Chris Stokes being the first one at the door. After seeing success with his group Immature -- a young R&B trio he put together in the early 90's -- Stokes struck gold (and platinum) again when he recruited Omarion to head up a R&B-Pop quartet called B2K in 2001. But after multi-platinum success and worldwide distinction, the group disbanded in 2004 to pursue their solo careers.

Today, Stokes remains a steady force in Omarion's personal and business life as an adviser and father figure. Through all of the ups and downs -- including an unfounded charge of sexual molestation by former B2K member De'Mario "Raz B" Thornton against Stokes that put the manager front and center in the court of public opinion -- Omarion has stayed loyal to his mentor. He even released a statement that supported Stokes and denied the allegations, with Thornton later recanting his accusations and issuing an apology to Stokes and his family. Even during this extraordinary series of events, Omarion focused on advancing his career in music and even dabbled in acting -- lining up several prime roles in films such as Fat Albert, Somebody Help Me and the dance flick You Got Served. The latter would feature one of the last collaborations with his B2K band mates.

Deciding to concentrate exclusively on music for the time being, and with a Grammy nomination and a gold plaque already under his belt as a solo artist, the soulful maestro is looking to cultivate creatively and financially with the release of his third solo album, Ollusion. As the airwaves knock to his lead single, I Get It In, which features the scorching-hot Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane, Omarion is looking to establish himself as a major force in the industry. For his album, he penned all of the material and even directed the video for the first single. Call it a concurrence, but just as Omarion decides to explore his personal experiences in the music business on this album, it will be the first release under his StarrWorld Entertainment imprint with EMI. This perfect mixture of circumstances should make for an exciting and emotional project, but it won't stray far away from Omarion's core, which is entertainment. With the passing of Michael Jackson in June, Omarion was one of the artists that I thought would be greatly affected by the legend's death. He even confessed that if there was a bloodline of performers, he would definitely come from Jackson's. But his artistic DNA would also incorporate the genetics of Sammy Davis Jr., Fred Astaire, James Brown and The Nicholas Brothers--entertainers whose ingenuity and fluid movement created a unique harmony.

As his business acumen was formed under the tutelage of Chris Stokes, and working extensively with powerhouse brands such as Timbaland and Lil Wayne, Omarion is intent on making his StarrWorld label a necessity in the current musiconomy. After a deal with Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment fell through, EMI stepped to the plate and presented the 25-year old mogul a deal that would allow his creativity to flow and for him to walk away with his own masters.

With the bright beginnings of a New Year dawning upon us, and his album release date quickly approaching, Omarion now sees the love of music continuing to trickle down his family line. During his down time, he occasionally observes his one-year old niece move to the beat of music whenever it's in her earshot, bringing back the memories of when he first fell in love with entertainment. As he watches his baby niece's star power grow in its infancy, Omarion's should shine brighter with each innovative and decisive leap he takes.