Virile R&B Dudes Seek Maturity, Female Companionship


Legally uninhibited from downing the Cristal that’s probably been a part of his backstage rider since his teenage days with B2K, Omarion wants to prove himself a man on 21, the follow-up to his hit 2005 solo debut. In r&b that usually results in a bad Brian McKnight impression, but Omarion actually redeems the notion in “Ice Box,” a haunting Timbaland-produced joint that plays like a reverse-image flip of Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” (whose Morse code synth line survives intact): Instead of strolling on the beach with their toes in the sand, O and his lady are frozen in conflict because he’s “got this icebox where my heart used to be.” That’s a metaphor it takes a real grown-up to sell.

Tyrese already demonstrated his manhood cinematically in last winter’s Annapolis, where he played history’s handsomest drill sergeant. So on the second volume of the two-disc Alter Ego, he’s out to show he can rap as capably as he can impersonate McKnight. Unfortunately, he’s stuck in authoritarian mode, offering potential companions exactly two choices—either you “get that ass on the floor” or you “shake that ass on the pole.” Any other ideas he’ll have to clear with his commanding officer first.

Omarion plays Madison Square Garden December 23 as part of Scream Tour 5.

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