OMI

OMI

From

Clarendon, Jamaica

Labels

Ultra

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Bio

Insightful Jamaican artist Omi (Omar Samuel Pasley) is bringing his breakthrough story to the U.S., with the compelling sheen of “Cheerleader,” leading the way. The smash dance song has notched more than 90 million Spotify streams, topping iTunes in 14 territories, including Germany, Australia, Sweden and others (Top 10 in nearly 30 other markets). Released in 2012, a cleverly understated remix by German DJ/Producer Felix Jaehn helped power the global momentum building around the infectious track.

The affable singer/songwriter, who hails from the rural Jamaican parish of Clarendon – ‘a stone’s throw from Kingston’ he says – describes how art and music have always been a part of his DNA: “My father did both. He passed away when I was 9, but imprinted on me the lessons and tools for a lifetime,” he says. “I think it was genetically encrypted. I started writing music when I was 14, always interested in words. The poetry side of the music artist fascinated me.”

omi musician on magazine Others began to notice by the time he entered high school, where Omi and his peers would rap and dance on top of desks during their class breaks. “Everyone knew I had a passion for art, but when they saw me rapping over beats – and doing music that I wrote – they were like ‘you got to get into a studio, man.’”


Omi did just that – determined to ‘see what I sounded like on a record,’ he says. He became fascinated with lyrics, transitioning from influences like Tupac, Biggie, and Eminem, to a wider spectrum that included John Legend and even mid-century crooner Nat King Cole. But when it came to crafting his own identity on record, he promised to be hardest on himself: “I knew that if it didn’t sound like something where I could make a difference in the world, I wasn’t going to pursue it.”
Omi was also intrigued by Jamaica’s magnetic hold on popular music throughout history – “a lot of different genres have been touched by Jamaican roots,” he says. He began venturing to an underground studio around 2007/2008 to record material he wrote. “I became an explorer, going deeper into the idea of music as pure expression.”

He met Clifton ‘Specialist’ Dillon in 2009, and the two formed a special creative relationship, with Dillon (Shabba Ranks, Patra. Alborosie, Ky-mani Marley) setting up Omi with his own studio in Kingston. “To have that at my disposal, where I could pour out my creativity was unbelievable,” says Omi. “A great vibe was born, another great learning process where I fell even more in love with music and dedicated myself to a fulltime career.”

The touchstone song “Cheerleader” would eventually become part of that process. Omi is quick to point out, however, that even from the start the track’s charm was its allegiance to simplicity. “I had put together a nice portfolio of songs to show my depth,” he says. “But I also wanted to do something that only had vocals to a beat. ‘Cheerleader’ started out as just two verses and a chorus.”

The song ‘grew’ on him, however, and when Dillon first heard it, he made a bold prediction. “He said immediately that ‘Cheerleader’ was going to be the ‘one.’ The hit,” recalls Omi. “We put a third verse to it, worked on the beat, and sent it out into the world.”

“Cheerleader” originally took off in Hawaii, but Omi was getting a larger sense of the song’s ‘stickiness’ where ever he performed it live. “People just gravitated to it, always remarking how it was their favorite.” Felix Jaehn’s 2014 remix added to the combustible nature of the track,” but by deftly imbuing acoustic gestures into the mix – conga, piano, trumpet – embellishing its unornamented feel. “I loved the mix even before it took off,” says Omi. “So calm; And unusual for a remix, it made you want to listen to the words, too.”

Always a student of durable songwriting, Omi is juggling in-demand tours of Europe and upcoming promotional work in the U.S. with the mission of returning to his studio and completing his newest batch of songs for a future album. “Touring gives you great unfiltered feedback. I’m always excited to use that in the studio. But my goals aren’t just to compose songs, but to keep mastering everything I can about music. To lock myself away and do what I need to do to become the artist I know I can be. Having this hit is a blessing, maybe even destiny, but I want people to look back and say ‘‘Cheerleader’ was just the beginning.”
view all 43 tracks 43 tracks found
OMI "Sing It Out Loud (Freddy Verano Remix)"
Album: Me 4 U: The Remixes
Genres: Dance, House, Pop
OMI "Hitchhiker (Bergs Remix)"
Album: Me 4 U: The Remixes
Genres: Dance, Deep House, Electronic
OMI "Standing On All Threes (Boehm Remix)"
Album: Me 4 U: The Remixes
Genres: Dance, Deep House, Electronic
OMI "Hitchhiker (HI Remix)"
Album: Me 4 U: The Remixes
Genres: Dance, Deep House, Electronic
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