Release Date : December 26 2006
Label : Epic
Dub Quotable: Omarion has some way to go before he becomes the next
Usher or R. Kelly, but with this album he earns his spot alongside the
remaining top-tier R&B performers of today.
With modern R&B, the challenge when creating an album is to keep it from
becoming one monotonous slow jam. Attaining the desired balance of up-tempo
hits and touching ballads can be difficult, but, if it works, the album
separates itself from the drab competition. Making one’s own mark in the
entertainment business is just what Omarion needs to do. Best known as a
member of the flashy boy band B2K, Omarion’s second album needed to be
something special, or he would likely disappear from public spectacle. His
newest effort, “21,” almost manages to capture that balance. Sadly,
nothing overly creative is here to push the album to notability.
The album starts off with the energetic club track “Entourage,” the
lead single and best offering. The production - a fierce blend of soul, step
music, and funk - is incomprehensibly catchy through its wise simplicity.
Other tracks, like the 80’s pop rehash “Electric” and the relatively
original, Timbaland helmed “Beg For It,” also cater to dance floor
patrons. Timbaland is sourced again for the current hit “Ice Box.” The
song creates a suitably cool vibe, largely due to Timbo’s eclectic mix of
atmospheric background noise. Another highlight is the dramatic “Made For
TV.” The soft piano tinkles and bouncing synth weave intricately with
Omarion’s heartfelt vocals. Revealing his raunchy side on “Just That Sexy,”
‘Marion drops the lyrics, “Cause your sex is the most/You bring me down to
my knees/From the bed to the floor/Oh girl, I’m begging you please.”
At a trim 12 tracks there is very little room for error, and largely “21”
avoids this pitfall. Unfortunately, the Neptunes collaboration “Obsession”
is an obvious disappointment. Although the drum pattern is fresh, the
production never really comes together, sounding like a leftover instrumental
from Pharrell’s solo. Equally, the tiresome “Midnight,” which
dramatically drains the album’s pace, flirts with introducing the entire album
In conclusion, “21” is a commendable R&B album. Lyrically, there’s
nothing particularly noteworthy. This album won’t change your perspective on
life, and the production, bar a couple of tracks, isn’t incredibly exciting.
However, for a genre notorious for dropping “filler” tracks on their audience,
“21” is a pleasantly consistent soul experience. Omarion has some way
to go before he becomes the next Usher or R. Kelly, but with this album he
earns his spot alongside the remaining top-tier R&B performers of today.