The breakout star of the young vocal group B2K, Omarion truly made a name for himself during the latter half of the 2000s as one of the era's most popular solo R&B artists. Supported by hits such as the gold-selling singles "O" and "Ice Box," the singer and songwriter -- also known for his dancing and acting -- topped the Billboard 200 and R&B/hip-hop charts with his first two solo albums, O (2005) and 21 (2006). The debut also made him a Grammy-nominated artist. In the following decade, his career was boosted by an affiliation with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, a period highlighted by the multi-platinum single "Post to Be" (2014), his fourth Top 40 pop crossover hit. Omarion has since recorded independently and rejoined B2K, and teamed with T-Pain on the single "Can You Hear Me?" (2020).
Born Omari Ishmael Grandberry in Inglewood, California, Omarion started his career in entertainment as an actor in commercials and as a background dancer for Before Dark. From 1999 through 2004, he fronted the pop-R&B group B2K, who hit the Top Ten with their two proper studio albums and scored a number one pop hit with "Bump, Bump, Bump." The group split after the filming of the 2004 domestic box-office topper You Got Served, and near the end of the year, Omarion appeared in the live-action version of Fat Albert.
Signed to major-label Epic, Omarion made his solo debut the following February with O. Featuring production help from the Neptunes, Rodney Jerkins, and the Underdogs and Tank, the LP, carried by the Top 40 slow jam of the same title, topped the Billboard 200 and R&B/hip-hop charts. It was subsequently nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary R&B Album. The follow-up, 21, followed in December 2006 and fared identically on the charts. Its biggest single was the Timbaland and Keri Hilson collaboration "Ice Box," which peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100. The singer's next move was Face Off, a full-length collaboration with Bow Wow. Promoted by a BET special titled The Road to Platinum, the project -- which capitalized on the success of Bow Wow's Omarion-assisted smash "Let Me Hold You" -- entered the Billboard 200 just outside the Top Ten and, like O, was certified gold by the RIAA.
Following a separation from Epic parent Sony, Omarion was briefly connected to Young Money Entertainment but ultimately signed with EMI, where he released Ollusion in January 2010. The album debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200 (number seven R&B/hip-hop) and included the Tank collaboration "I Get It In," featuring a guest verse from Gucci Mane, as well as a handful of cuts with Marques Houston. Later in the year, he appeared as a judge on the fifth season of America's Best Dance Crew. Omarion then joined the roster of Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, signed a management deal with Roc Nation, and joined the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood. In December 2014, after a series of mixtapes, EPs, and appearances on MMG releases including the second and third volumes of the Self Made series, Omarion returned with Sex Playlist. The album entered the R&B/hip-hop chart at number five. Ross and Jeremih were among the featured artists, as were Jhené Aiko and Chris Brown, who appeared on "Post to Be," a number 13 pop hit that went multi-platinum.
Omarion released a couple intermediary singles in 2015. Additional tracks arrived in 2017 as preludes to his fifth solo album, Reasons, but the LP was shelved. Omarion responded by uploading a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's like-titled classic on its intended release date. Newly independent, the singer issued the fourth volume in his EP series Care Package by the end of the year. After he reunited with B2K for tour dates in 2019, he made his solo return in 2020 with "Can You Hear Me?," on which he was joined by T-Pain. ~ Andy Kellman
BORNNovember 12, 1984