Author: Adam Bernard
Omni is one of California's best kept secrets, but he really shouldn't be. Those who have heard the 24 year old MC know that nothing about his skills should be kept under wraps. With his next album "Batterie" set to hit stores in March, we caught up with Omni to discuss his career, the DIY work ethic he's been utilizing over the years, and some of the ways he feels people can find great new music.
Adam Bernard: First thing's first, for the people out there who don't know who Omni is, give everyone the Cliff's Notes version of your history.
Omni: My name is Omni, AKA Omniprez. I'm from Los Angeles. I started rapping at about 14 with my group Gershwin BLX back in the day. They disbanded, I went solo and I'm here, six records later, doing it on my own, independent all the way.. not by choice, but mostly because that's the way it is and I don't let that affect my music. I've been traveling the globe trying to get it and just doing it on my own, that's the key right there. I want to put my music out, but no one was really helping me so I had to do it on my own and that's how I got to here with "Batterie," this Australian record that I put together because I got really, not bored but I wanted to work with other cats. It seems like nowadays when you put out a record everyone has to work with someone to get some recognition. It's not that I don't respect those artists, I just feel like I want to work with whoever I want, not with someone cuz their name is hot. I understand that's part of the business, I'm not an idiot, but when I make a record I want to feel comfortable about it. I do have a wish list I'd love to work with.
"With this record,
actually I recorded different records for different countries."
AB: So talk to me about how you worked with on "Batterie."
O: With this record, actually I recorded different records for different countries. So you heard the Australian version. I got a record that I did in Europe that's coming out hopefully after this "Batterie" record, and I got a record that I did in Japan. Basically what I did was I went around and I worked with Japanese cats for the Japanese record, and then I went to Europe and I worked with European cats. Coming up in LA I got to work with all American cats, US cats, and I hope to do the same in South America one day. It was just a way for me to really say I did some worldwide Hip-Hop.
AB: So it's going to be a series of albums?
O: I didn't really look at it as a series, but it seems like it's leading that way. I looked it more like alright I want to do a record in Europe with European cats and kinda feel their scene and their vibe. So I went out there for three months and I got to do that. And I did that in Australia, on my own dime. I got in touch with this label with my manager and they were keen to the idea of doing a record together, like US meets Aussie, and they respected my music and I respected their music and it got together like that. I flew out there and I worked with all the artists that I liked from the records they sent me and that's what made the album. It wasn't 150% Australian because I had to put my crew on there, and I have a track with Aceyalone on there, that's just the way it ended up. I love it. I have another one coming out there that's like part two of that.
AB: What's behind the spelling of the title?
O: I just wanted to do a little twist on it. There's really no significant input to the spelling of it, I just thought it would look cool.
AB: So it's going to be "Batterie Australia," "Batterie UK" and "Batterie Japan"?
O: The Australian one is called "Batterie," the European one is called "Ninja Art" and the Japan one is called "Pins and Needles." All totally different albums.
AB: Are you releasing them all at somewhat the same time?
O: Different times. I wanted them to come out at the same time, but you know, labels. Plus I'm working with independent labels on this one and they have different timetables, they weren't like “yeah let's make it work for you and line everything up for you,” but I'm really happy they're all putting it out.
AB: So that's cool, you'll stagger 'em across 2007.
O: Yeah. "Batterie" is coming out in the US in March.
"I'm still doing this, I'm six albums in it,
I'm not famous and I still have the energy to do this..."
AB: What about this album is most important to you?
O: "Batterie" to me is energy. I'm still doing this, I'm six albums in it, I'm not famous and I still have the energy to do this and the energy to talk about subjects in my life as far as women and life and money, friendship. Those are things that are very important to me and if I don't express them then I'll bottle them up. It's how I deal with those topics on a personal level and then I give it out to people to see if they can pick it apart and find something that they like about it. The three people that buy it, you know. (laughs)
AB: Hey, c'mon, there'll be more sales than that.
O: OK, thirty three.
AB: OK, sounds good. Now, a lot of people love Hip-Hop and want to be rappers. Unfortunately, a lot of those folks are terrible at rapping. What would you say would be a good alternative for those folks who love Hip-Hop and have a message and a story to tell, but maybe aren't talented in any of the four elements?
O: I would say that they should just go and write their messages on billboards and it would get out a lot faster. I'm not saying be taggers, don't quote me on that. If it's not Hip-Hop there's gotta be other ways of getting it out. Maybe you could write a book, you could do a blog on MySpace nowadays. Grab any way you can to communicate, because rap is communication and some people do it fresher than the others and some people do it to where you don't want to hear their message. It's gotta be a fresh message for someone to even intake it. I'd say MySpace is my final answer. Type it out as a bulletin.
"Man I'm a forever huge fan of Andre3000 and Sade.
That's my dream single, Sade on the hook and me and Andre3000 on the song."
AB: So what's been grabbing you recently in terms of messages or artistry?
O: Man I'm a forever huge fan of Andre3000 and Sade. That's my dream single, Sade on the hook and me and Andre3000 on the song. That's been grabbing me lately. A lot of Radiohead I've been listening to, and the cream of the crop of the underground, I'm going to forever listen to those guys, they're in the same boat as me.
AB: Everyone has goals for their work, so other than the thirty three albums sold what are your realistic goals and your fantasy goals for "Batterie"?
O: My fantasy goals for "Batterie" is that everyone just passes it along and listens to it. It sucks that this business that we're in is like, you could be the freshest person in the world, but if you don't have the capital behind you it doesn't matter. That's why we get out these wack message about drink your pimp cup and shit with gold teeth, like whoah, you spent five million dollars to say that and all the real information and the real joy and fruits of music and life and experiences have been shelved because of that. I know it seems like a run-on topics, underground versus mainstream, that's bullshit, it should just be good music. I just want people to catch on to that and not only that I'm a talented artist, but that my music has substance, it's not just a bunch of flam-flam. I do got some flam-flam, to keep it real, and I can say some flam-flam shit, it's just that life is balance, it shouldn't all be flam-flam, I got shit to get off my chest and I can't afford a therapist so...
AB: You can afford studio time, though.
O: Not even that! I'm getting all hookups. If it's not my manager's or my homeboy's studio, and a real cheap price on a mix down and the labels that do what they can to get it across, if it wasn't for that I think I'd only have the release on MySpace, which is sad because everyone has an album on MySpace. MySpace Records, they need to sign me for real.
AB: You know the issues doesn't even sound like underground versus mainstream at this point, it just sounds like..
AB: Yeah, and it sounds like finding the message versus not finding the message. So how can people find you? What would you advise them on how they could get to you easier in terms of your music?
O: I would advise one, to open up and stop supporting the only five artists you think are hot because it's all you see in URB magazine and it's all you get in your email blasts. You can catch me on my website or my MySpace. I really hate advertising that kind of stuff, but check that out. But just dig for good music. It's hard because I'm still trying to figure out how to get myself to you, so if I can't figure that out it's really hard for you to get to me. I try to get on as many tours as I possibly can. I'm not a record whore, so I won't be on certain people's albums just for you to hear me unless they're my homeboy or I'm feelin 'em. And when I put out records I really hope people go out and get it because of the music, not because I didn't rap with so and so or because I'm not on the Warped Tour, or I'm not on this so and so tour. Right now the best way to get at me is myspace.com/blx or blxcrew.com. And catch me on my tour. Just because there's only fifty people at my show doesn't mean I'm not dope. Just come out and support.
AB: Some of the best artists I've ever seen only had fifty people in their crowds.
O: Exactly. That doesn't mean nothin. And people gauge that these days and that's just wack. I've actually been at shows and people look inside and because there's no people they walk away. To me that's pathetic. I really don't want you at my show if you think like that anyway. The fans out there that really know about me and support me, I appreciate that. And keep supporting me because I'm going to keep putting out music and when I finally get to my point hopefully you're there with me. And in the end hopefully we'll get you there.
AB: And you mentioned you're six albums deep now, so how does "Batterie" stack up against your other ones?
O: Aw man, you see the thing is I spend time on my records so I don't look at records as old, to me they're all on the same timeline. I still play my first record and I giggle and laugh because it's still dope because I try to be excellent in whatever I do. That's my motto. I spend time on my rhymes. I spend time on my message, my input. It stacks up really well. It's a maturity, of course, because the first record I put out was five or six years ago, so you definitely hear maturity in my topics but it's still me being fresh. When I'm selling music I always tell people pick any one, I put a stamp of excellence on everything I do.
AB: What's been your greatest moment as an artist?
O: I think it's when you look in the crowd and you see someone mouthing your words, I think that there's no feeling like that. I was at the Root Down in Los Angeles, a really popular club on Thursdays, and I was performing there and there was this cat, he was just bugging out to “American African” and he knew all the words, he had his eyes closed and his hands in the air and that's how I felt when I made the song, so I really felt like that energy just got trapped into him and you ideally want everyone to do that at a show and he did it and he was great. I remember right then and there I was like this is it, this is what I want to do forever, whether I make it or not. If I can get more people to do what he just did life is good.
AB: Finally, what should people know about that they may not know already?
O: They should know that I'm a really cool cat and that I love everybody and that I want everyone to just be together and be a good positive ball of energy. And I'm just levelheaded, man. I don't look at myself any differently because I am an artist. I think that people feel that being an artist comes with some type of plateau that you're on. No, I'm just a communicator, I'm a messenger, I'm doing my part for our generation and our time, whatever it is; if it's comedy, if it's life, if it's me talking about serious shit in the streets. And that's just it. I like to keep things simple and positive. I'm not a negative person. My whole attitude is it's all gonna work out, because if it don't, it's all gonna work out. So if you see me out there, holla at me.
Check out Omni's MySpace page at myspace.com/omniblx or visit Blxcrew.com.
Originally posted: February 20, 2007