Omar has just re released Sing [If You Want It], on Tru Thoughts, the British soul supremo’s sixth and perhaps funkiest album so far. Featuring guest appearances from Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, Common, Estelle, Rodney P, JC Bentley, Canitbeand Ashman, and with additional production from Omar’s brother, Scratch Professer, it’s a brilliant collection of music that manages to break new ground for the artist, yet at the same time re-establishes that unmistakable, unique Omar signature sound with his army of fans.
On the last album, Best By Far, I was very influenced by soundtracks and Latin jazz,” explains Omar. “This time I wanted something a bit more funky, something to put my music back in the clubs. I still use the live instruments and the strings when I feel them, ‘cause that’s me, but the kick and the snare are much louder this time. That’s why my brother’s more involved, ’cause he’s great with those hip-hop beats.”
It is, of course, a major coup for any UK recording artist to be able to call on the services of a musical legend like Stevie Wonder. The simple truth is that Stevie has been a fan of Omar’s music since he first heard There’s Nothing Like Thisback in 1992 – the same year he promised to write Omar“his first number one”. The 14-year wait turned out to be well worth it when, one day, Stevie called Omarout of the blue and told him he was in London and had just what he’d promised. A jam session later and the irrepressibly funky and melodic Feeling You, with Stevie on vocals and keyboards, was born.
As for the other star guests on the album, well, they’re all either long-standing admirers of Omar’s work and/or personal friends. Angie Stone, for example, had often dropped Omar’s name in interviews over the years and she recorded her own version of Omar’s track Little Boy. This then led to a contribution to Omar’s last project when she stepped in to lay the co-lead vocal on one of Omar’s two duet versions of Be Thankful. She applies her distinctive stamp to two tracks on Sing [If You Want It], the gorgeous laid-back ballad All For Meand the driving seduction funker Stylin’.
Conscious hip-hop don Commonhas also worked with Omarbefore: the UK soulman lent his talents to Common’s Electric Circusalbum whilst on one of his now increasingly frequent touring visits to the States; in return Common teams up with Brit-hop legend Rodney Pand rising MC Ashman and Canitbefor the atmospheric, vibrant Gimme Sum, already being touted as a future single from the album.