Hip-hop and R&B are together again with the collaboration of Bow Wow and Omarion for their upcoming album, Face Off. R. Kelly and Jay-Z were the initial artists to combine rap and R&B for a collborative effort, and now Omarion and Bow Wow are taking a similar path.
Ballerstatus met up with the Omarion and Bow Wow in New York City to discuss their first project as a duo. Their first song, “Let Me Hold You,” went no. 1 on the rap charts, no. 2 R&B/Hip-Hop charts and no. 4 on Hot 100 list. Now, a year later, the well-respected artists and best friends wrote an album with a varied set of songs hoping to capture audiences all over again.
With Face Off’s release date set for December 11th, we chopped it up with the young superstars about everything from music, their collaborations and friendship.
Ballerstatus.com: You were both co-ambassadors and grand marshals of the Howard University Homecoming. How was that?
Bow Wow: It was great. It was poppin’. Basically, what it is, is we just finished it up, it was crazy to be part of the whole entire parade. The homecoming festivities, we tossed a coin at the homecoming football game and of course we rode through the streets and went to the club with Puff [Daddy]. And of course Puff, he went to Howard. We met him up at the club and took him to the club and then from there, it was a hot experience because me and O never went to college. So we had the chance to get the college experience for like a couple hours.
Omarion: Yeah, we rode through the streets.
Ballerstatus.com: How did you come up the name Face Off for your album? What does it mean to you?
Omarion: Actually, Jermaine [Dupri] came up with the title for the album and we kept it. It sounded hot and because of the concept… you know we feel like it was a good opportunity to not focus on the haters, but address them and help them understand that they feel us and they give us the strength and the courage to just go hard like we do.
Ballerstatus.com: How have you grown as individuals to come together on this album?
Omarion: Well for me, I felt like this was an opportunity not to only do something different in my career, but to take myself away from your typical R&B record. I felt like I coulda easily did my third album, put some good music together. To have the element of hip-hop and R&B, you know on record, and then we decided to do this album. We did a record together, which was “Let Me Hold You” and the chemistry was just amazing, so I really felt like I wanted to do something different. I’ve never really been able to talk “pop” so to speak. I’ve never been able to say like “Yo, I’m this, I’m that, I got this album, I got that album and I’m really livin’ it.” So kinda like, I had the opportunity to be a rapper almost and talk like how rappers talk, so it was fun.
Bow Wow: For me, side track a little bit, the whole thing is really just different. As artists, you always wanna make sure that you better your craft and that’s one thing what’s so hot about the project. Like O was saying, we had a chance to do something different for the first time. The sound was different coming from the both of us — lyrical content, delivery, how we approach different types of records and topics. That’s a good advantage that we have over a lot of these older artists that do have the same sense that we have, if not more because being that O is 23 and I’m turning 21 years old, we still young. So therefore, we still got a lot of learning to do and a lot more maturing to do. A lot more to talk about because there’s still more information coming in and it’s because of life. We still living life therefore, being we gonna go through more obstacles, we gonna go through more relationships and we gonna go through more of everything, that’s what’s gonna keep being new material and therefore we can keep re-inventing ourselves. That’s why we was able to just go in and do what we wanna do, but do it the right way.
Ballerstatus.com: On the air with Hot 97’s Angie Martinez yesterday, you mentioned rating females. Bow Wow, you said you date “5 and up.” Omarion you said you date “7 and up.” How do comments like this affect your female audience’s self-esteem?
Bow Wow: I like all women. I don’t discriminate. You gotta understand at the end of the day, we are guys. It’s normal for guys. The Dream got one of the biggest records out — “Shawty Is A Ten.” Everybody want a dime piece. But then you might have the fine girl that’s always got the ugly girls with her, they might not necessarily be the tens, but I love all women. Yeah, I like a 5 because some girls know that they might not be that cute, but at the same time, they like “Damn, Bow like a 5? I know I ain’t Tyra Banks, so I might have a shot.” Like if anything, they [fans] like “Damn, he like us all, that’s what’s up. Most guys just go for the pretty long haired models, but for him to like the fives, and for him to like the tens and the sixes and the sevens…” Most of our fans, they come from the hood. They don’t have the money to go get their hair done and nails done everyday. They don’t have the money to go get them new clothes. Most of our fans are young black African American females that are trapped in situations where they don’t have money and they gotta work so hard to do it. What I meant by “I don’t mind if she’s a five” is I don’t discriminate. I’ll take a six or a two or a three. I don’t care. That’s just me expressing and showing my love because our fans… if anything, the fans will be like “At least he’s honest.” Girls like honesty. It’s like “I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he could still cut with it. He can make it work.” It’s not like a degrading thing.
Omarion: For me, it’s more like a ten can be a lot of things. It’s not just based off of looks. Even though that’s what we were referring to in the interview, when I really think about it, a ten can still means your personality. I’ve dated women that other people didn’t think was as pretty as I did. Everybody has their own look, their preference. As far as the rating thing, we have fun and we all guys and we was really just having fun with it. We don’t discriminate. We love girls. We love all women and that’s the bottom line.
Ballerstatus.com: What was the concept behind “Girlfriend?”
Bow Wow: Actually, The Dream wrote the record. When me and O got it, we didn’t jump on it, but then when people submit you records, it’s almost like you gotta do ’em just to see how it sounds when your on it. Don Vito produced the “Girlfriend” record who was the same guy that produced “Shawty Is A Ten” beat. When Dream sent us the record, it was like O did his verse and when he did his verse, I went in the studio and it took me like five minutes to write my verse and I went in there and just laid it out. When I heard it in the studio, and we put it on the mains, it was like “This is right up the alley for our fans, this is what they wanna hear from us.” We gotta make sure we keep our fanbase happy no matter what, so that they feel that we still being us and we stayin’ true to who we are.
Omarion: On top of it, if you listen to the lyrics, I talk about how beautiful my girl is and how she’s so fine I wanna tip her. We talk about the little catchy things that I think our fans never really heard from us as far as what we might do with our girlfriends. “Yup, that’s my girlfriend.” It’s kinda like we glorifying our girlfriends. I think any woman out there would feel special by a man being with them and feeling like their special because they got a special woman.
Ballerstatus.com: The second released song, “Hood Star,” is very dynamic. With such a contrast between “Girlfriend” and Hood Star,” can we hope to hear a very diverse mix of songs on the album?
Bow Wow: Definitely. The second single is outta here. I’m telling you. The next single is called “Hey Baby.” The record is up tempo. It’s different for me because I haven’t rapped on a beat that fast. That’s why I like the record so much.
Omarion: I can do my thing.
Ballerstatus.com: Outside of the song “Hood Star,” your goal or the contest you launched is to find the Ultimate Hood Star. What’s your definition of a hood star?
Omarion: What we tell people about the whole song and the idea behind it is that everyone is a hood star. Me and Bow were inner city kids at one time that used to play at the YMCA and wanted to go play basketball and flag football. We were normal kids and now we have the opportunity to be something and make something of ourselves. The hood star is the next doctor. It’s the next generation. It’s the next Kobe [Bryant]. It’s the next Bow Wow and Omarion. The contest that’s going on for it is great and the people gotta write the three page essay. I feel like this is a good opportunity for people to really understand it means a lot when you coming from the inner city to really make something of yourself. It influences a whole city. It influences your friends.
Ballerstatus.com: In the song you say “Step on stage like the twin towers re-born,” that’s a pretty powerful statement. What are you trying to say?
Omarion: When we step on stage, that’s really how it is.
Bow Wow: It’s crazy ’cause like if the twin towers were re-born, it would be…
Omarion: Those are the towers that the world recognizes. That lyric itself alone, when me and Bow Wow go on stage, even though we been on tour, it’s like I went on, then Bow went on and I would go off. It’s chaos because we really in there and we tryin’ to tear that building down. Every time we go to a new city…
Bow Wow: It’s just pandemonium.
Ballerstatus.com: How do you relate to your male audiences knowing that you both are favored so highly by female audiences?
Bow Wow: I think in one way we can relate to our male audiences is us being guys. If guys were us, they would be doing the same thing because all guys wanna date. In order to date girls, you gotta talk to them. Therefore, the reason we get criticized so much and why we make 95% of our music to girls is because, number 1, that’s who buys records. Number 2, that’s how we run our game. When you in high school, all the guys want is the girls, but you always hate on the guy that get the girl. That’s one unique way how we kinda can relate. I never understood why guys be hatin’ on us so much because every guy wanna have the baddest girl in the world. Every guy want all the girls, so why hate on us? We doin’ what you would be doin’. Don’t get it twisted. We only gonna talk about what we represent and what we know. I don’t know nothing about selling drugs, I didn’t have to do none of that, but I know how to talk to girls. That’s how we win. Every time guys meet us, the first thing they wanna talk about — “I know ya’ll got them girls, where them girls at?” That’s the first thing they always say, so that’s what we have in common.
Ballerstatus.com: Why has this album been so secretive?
Omarion: In the beginning, when we talked about it, it was a top secret thing because we was gettin’ prepared for it and making sure the deal and our lawyers were really doing their job. But it’s not top secret anymore, we want the world to know. Bow Wow and Omarion, Face Off. It’s going down. It’s for real. December 11th like the world Series.
Ballerstatus.com: What’s your main goal for the release of this album?
Bow Wow: To make sure our audience is pleased with the product and to sell records. Sony is shipping 1 million records, they never shipped that many in a long time. Last year, I came out and sold 100,000 my first week. O came out and had the no. 1 album. No way we can’t do 500,000 the first week. Right around the holiday season and our hardcore fanbase is kids and the young girls. Christmas time is for the kids and that’s what make it hype and exciting. Don’t let the album be $9.99. If the album $9.99, we might mess around and do 700,000.