You’ve got to understand the type of guy Omarion is.
His face is honey-dripping good looking. He’s got baby soft skin and a 6-pack worth licking ice cubes from. His hair is styled so stylishly well; shout out to his black barber back in California and he looks like his scent is simply divine.
He’s summed up like a well-carved music demigod.
But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg.
Omarion absorbs culture. He lives it, breathes it, revels in it.
He’s a humble millionaire superstar (with an alleged net worth of $8M, converted to Kshs 800M) who graced Nairobi over the weekend and took in every tradition that came his way.
Blending with Maasai Warriors? Oh yes, them included. He claimed their tradition and danced along with them. Head over to @KenyanVibe on Twitter and get a glimpse of O (At this point we’re all boys with Omarion after he landed to the motherland, so we can simply call him ‘O’.) He’s dressed in full gear Maasai regalia and if you didn’t know him for the superstar that he is, you’d easily assume him one of the clan.
That having been said, Omarion posted a video of himself dancing with the staff at what looked like Crowne Hotel, Upperhill, who were singing (in the most disheveled melodic version yet) the zilizopendwa song, ‘Jambo’ to Omarion. But he and his entourage didn’t seem to mind. They were busy embracing a Swahili welcome, in Africa, ready to turn up and have a good time, as you could tell from the various ‘eeeys’ in their selfie-videos.
So in comes his performance at the Ngong’ Racecourse.
Unfortunately I got to the event quite late, never had the opportunity to check out the new cats in the music industry as well as some of the more familiar faces. But I did make the mental note to check out some performances on social media from artists such as Dela. Her outfit could only be summed up in one phrase: Angel meets Riri.
I also saw a clip of Fena Gitu performing with her gang; BlinkyBill, Kagwe, Mayonde and MDQ, and they all looked like the kind of squad you’d want in your lane.
From reviews, I heard Le Band did quite the job on stage too. And it was expected. I mean, they’re like the new Sauti Sol, right? We all think it. At first we thought that H_art the Band was the new Sauti Sol, but they’re too eccentric for our laid back gents. So Le Band fits the bill quite snuggly. Which is good, because Sauti Sol are now internationally recognized.
Other notable acts were from Mvroe & Kiwango, Marcus & Shappaman, What’s Good Live’s Barak Jacuzzi, Alpha Mars and P.R.O.
I also got in in time to meet Amina hosting the show, with her long black tutu skirt, and Dj Joe Mfalme hosting on the decks.
Vera Sidika’s Veetox stand was literally the first thing you saw as you walked into the venue and I kid you not, I saw her getting ushered into the backstage by 2 fully dressed army guys with AK 47s dangerously dangling on their sides, walking right behind her ready to snub a guy if they even tried to wave at the girl. I thought the act quite peculiar but hey, if you’ve got Vera Sidika money then I guess you can literally do anything you damn want.
At this point, we all want to have rich men in our lives, going by Vera’s and Akothee’s lifestyles. But that’s a story for another day.
Back to our main man, O.
I literally only recall him singing ‘MIA’, a collaboration with rapper Wale. I mean, that’s the first song I remember listening to after I secured a tight spot right next to the stage where girls were out rightly competing to touch his cream-suede boots and end up yelling. “Oh my gosh, it’s really him!” on live Instagram feeds.
O then changed, or rather, grabbed an Ankara jean jacket over his black vest, and came out to perform ‘Post to Be’, ‘Body on Me’ and lastly, the famous Orange hoodie for ‘Distance’.
The crowd was full of screaming girls and a bunch of drunken guys off of Hennessy. The rest were too busy filming for their social media fans to actually enjoy the music. A couple handful, like me, were the only ones who truly seemed to live in the moment, and watch this iconic star that we’ve grown up bumping to, perform right here in the heart of our city.
My expectations for O’s performance were a bit higher than what was delivered. I’m not gonna lie.
I thought he’d come with a troop of dancers and perform live and make me wail and cry about how freezing my ice-boxed heart has become.
I went for Chris Brown in Mombasa last year and that show was all words EPIC. Even though he’d traveled with only 2 dancers. But we forgave him. Maybe cos Chris Brown has always been relevant to our music scene.
In fact, I believe the crowd was more hyped over the fact that Omarion was standing right before their eyeballs, as opposed to the fact that they should’ve been bumping to his actual music.
His performance with just 1 hype man on his side was however pardoned with the fact that he made us all lark-giddy by his ‘Distance’ performance, which let’s all agree, was the main chant of the night.
Another thing he did right though, unlike most International acts, was truly appreciate his fans.
Like the guy just stood at the back of the stage and bumped along with the crowd to African songs like Darassa’s Muziki. (And what’s with the ‘Bra, bra, bra, staki kusiskia phrase?’ As thought someone was paying homage to a girl’s bra. In the guy’s defense, the phrase worked cos nowadays it sounds cooler to say ‘bra, bra, bra’ as opposed to ‘bluh, bluh, bluh’. Try it you’ll see. And be sure to insert his intonation as you say it.)
O also danced to Davido’s ‘If’, a song we all know he likes to jam to from his former Instagram posts.
What irked me was the fact that the Dj on O’s live set never even played ONE Kenyan song. Like, he couldn’t even let O see us jam to the ‘Mwanaume sembe/mazgwembe’ song? Or maybe some Nyashinski or Toa Tint?
Another lesson to be learnt on just how much we need to address and incorporate our own authentic stuff in relation to other guest acts.
Then O also gave out personally autographed cool orange hoodies. We can assume that O has officially made orange hoodies a thing. I need to go thrift-shopping for one soon.
All said and done, the inaugural #AfropopFestival was an overall success, minus the petty Ngong’ Racecourse thieves here and there and the lack of adept lighting towards the entrance of the event; an event that ended after a 45 minute performance-wrap that left fans feeling shortchanged.