“At 4 o’clock I’m driving home,” Omarion sings into the phone, easily switching into performance mode as he hums notes and vibrato tones in his song voice. “Midnight,” a song from his second album, 21 (Sony, 2006), contains a verse about driving that pops into his head “It’s pretty bad; I’m at this woman’s house and I should have been home at 4 o’clock,” Omarion explains sheepishly. “It’s about a man doing wrong.”
It’s quite a transition for Omarion, who at a young age was in commercials for Kellogg’s Corn Pops and McDonald’s, and grew up in the spotlight, first as the lead singer of the boy band B2K, then as a break-out solo artist and actor. Omarion has grown up, and singing about a grown-man’s guilt is evidence of an emerging theme to his music never before explored.
With success at a young age, Omarion grew up on the road. But, in many ways, he craved the same things as any American boy. As a kid, he used to leaf through magazines cutting out photos of his favorite cars. “I would cut out little pictures of cars and I would say, ‘That’s going to be my car.’ When I was younger, I used to be into less expensive cars, like PT Cruisers; cars like that were my taste. Me and my cats had a plan to get those cars and have a car club,” he said. By the time he was 13, he developed a taste for finer vehicles, and he was cutting out photos of the Mercedes-Benz CL 500.
Five years later, that car ended up parked in his driveway. But first, he had to learn the road. “My first memory of driving in a car is with my mother,” he said. “She had a stick shift. It was the oldest and widest car ever; it was great.”
He learned to drive when he was 14 years old. “My mom pretty much taught me,” he explained. “The thing is, we were traveling so much when were in B2K that it didn’t make sense to buy cars until I was old enough.” By then, Omarion had what most teenage boys only fantasize about—enough success to drive whatever he wanted. When the 2003 CL 500 landed in his driveway, Omarion developed a love affair with cars that was more than just a teenage crush.
“My car is like my girlfriend. When she’s scratched up, I clean her up and wash her,” he joked. “My car is my baby. Any time I’m dating someone, I tell them not to get jealous because the car is my baby. I even have a friend who is a detailer and he comes over and hooks up my cars when they need it.”