Singer-songwriter OMI found himself more than just one “Cheerleader” this year. When the song hit the airwaves, no one could not get enough of the catchy tropical jam. The man behind Billboard’s 2015 Song of the Summer sat with A Drink With in The Commons Club for a chat about his influences, his mom, and a year of “pinch-me” moments. Read the full interview here.
ADW: YOU OFTEN SAY, “REMEMBER THE PAST TO ENSURE THE FUTURE.” WHO TAUGHT YOU THAT PHILOSOPHY?
O: My manager, Clifton ‘Specialist’ Dillon, told me this. My manager is like my dad. He is somebody whom I really admire, somebody whom I really look up to and aspire to so much. He has had so much success in his career. He’s represented Jamaica and Jamaican culture in the music industry since back in the day, and the fact that he is still relevant today as an artist who is doing well is amazing and admirable.
ADW: HOW DID YOU MEET CLIFTON ‘SPECIALIST’ DILLON?
O: It was about six or seven years ago. He tells this story best; I don’t want to mess it up, but it was written in the scrolls. You know when something just falls into place so organically? I think we didn’t cross paths by chance or luck. I think it was something that was ordained.
ADW: WHAT ABOUT YOUR PAST ARE YOU REMEMBERING TO TAKE WITH YOU IN THIS NEXT CHAPTER?
O: Humility. It’s so difficult to get to this place and it’s so easy to lose it. In a minute it can all go downhill and I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people. There are so many examples to follow and not to follow. There are the good and bad ones, but I try to always be analytical about it. I use my downtime to reflect, so I don’t party a lot. Every chance I get, I use it to reflect; I use it to catch myself if I’m doing something wrong.
ADW: I HEARD YOU STARTED WRITING MUSIC WHEN YOU WERE 14 AND THAT YOU LISTENED TO EMINEM. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE EMINEM SONG AT THE TIME?
O: Oh man. I love his album “The Eminem Show.” A high school friend of mine hooked me up to this album. We’re still friends today. Eminem is a very good lyricist. When it comes to words and wordplay it’s just amazing how he can use words to paint a picture. He really delivers that and gets that across in his music. I always thought that it would be cool to incorporate this in my music. When I was 19 or 20 years old I started listening to more soul music like Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and John Legend, Bob Marley, just throw him in there too. It was a whole compilation. I was like a mad scientist thinking, “How can I come up with something that is unique to me and something that will get a stamp of approval at the same time?”
ADW: ALL OF YOUR DIFFERENT INFLUENCES ARE WHAT MAKE YOU SO GREAT.
O: It’s like being the first cowboy over the hill. You never know what you’re going to meet until you come back with a bunch of arrows. You take a chance and you go out on a limb. If you’re as serious and as passionate about music as I am, then you are willing to take that chance.
ADW: WHAT KIND OF TOPICS WERE YOU WRITING ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE 14?
O: Basically the same topics [I am writing about now], but you know what? As an artist I think that it’s how you put it across. The topics never change. It’s love, it’s sex, it’s all of the human emotions and human situations, but at the end of the day, it’s how you as the artist articulate the message. I think that’s why you’re called an artist. Just be very expressive with it, and I guarantee somebody in the world can relate to it or you just hope somebody can relate.
ADW: READ THAT YOU LIKE TO DRAW AND PAINT TO RELAX BUT THAT YOU DON’T GET TO DO IT AS OFTEN AS YOU’D LIKE. SO YESTERDAY I WENT TO THE ART STORE AND PICKED UP SOME SUPPLIES. I THOUGHT WE COULD SKETCH SOMETHING FUN.
O: Oh wow, this is awesome. Can I sketch you? This is like so in my zone right now.
ADW: IF YOU COULD HAVE A DRINK WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
O: John Legend wouldn’t be a bad start. We could discuss the collaboration people have been asking me about so many times in my interviews.
ADW: WHERE WOULD YOU WANT THIS DRINK TO TAKE PLACE?
O: Anywhere where there are drinks. Here is cool. This is a nice place.