As the former front man of the once white-hot boy-band B2K, Omarion was faced with the quandary that many younger performers from various genres find themselves up against: retaining their original audience while making creating a new legacy as a stand-alone solo artist. So far, he's managed to be more successful than expected, with his debut and sophomore CD's debuting at Number One and multiple film roles (You Got Served, Fat Albert, Feel the Noise). He also established his own label, Starworld, through which he has released his third solo outing and latest CD, Ollusion. If you've got enough largesse to listen to it for exactly what it is---a slickly-crafted product that's more about attitude than performance----then it will be an enjoyable romp. If you're of the "I-need-real-sangin'-and-lyrics/instrumentation" ilk, then you'll be bored and disappointed.
For Ollusion, Omarion has surrounded himself with the tried and true (Tank, Marques Houston) and somebody new (The Drummahz, Battle Roy) in the beat-making department, and the results range from enjoyable to irritating. Thanks to the overuse of Auto-Tune by T-Pain, most of today's younger generation of performers think it's acceptable to sound just like an android song after song. But like a condiment, it's fine for the first entrÃ©e, but it simply gets in the way of the true flavor if spread all over the main course. The practice does add a layer of unaffected swag to his leading single, "I Get It In"; and on "Hoodie," since the song is nothing more than ads and product placement about his fly gear, it's fitting that he sounds like an automaton. But as he's aged, Omarion's lost most of the nasaly whine that characterized most of those early B2K hits and it would be nice to hear it more often with a genuine vocal performance, like the one demonstrated in the breezy â€˜crushin' on a new shorty' song, "Speedin'." "Temptation" takes him into Usher territory, another well-done song about loving the one he's with, but unable to stop thinking about the co-worker who is salty with his girlfriend and "has no shame in her game and lets it be known that she wants me, she wants me."
Unfortunately, the remaining songs fall between redundant and ridiculous: he does his best to channel R. Kelly's sexual steeze in "Wet," but the effect comes across as silly and self-conscious. "Code Red" is the almost-expected "I'm-the-king-of-VIP-and-all-these-girls-up-in-here-want-me" (maybe I need a side gig as a rapper, wow!) club cut, and the most cringingly bad entry on the CD, "I Think My Girl Is Bi," ahem.....speaks for itself.
Omarion is one of the most talented and versatile performers of his generation, but the majority of the material on this CD treats him like a flash-in-the-pan gimmick instead. Ollusion will probably do the job for his now-college-age and partying B2K base, but for those who want to see what the fuss is all about, this third time may not exactly be the charm.
By Melody Charles