Sitting stoically in Billboard’s New York offices, OMI appears like he’s the calm, cool, collected type — or gonna pass out from exhaustion after months of whirlwind travel and promotion. “I’ve just never been the get-excited type — but inside I’m screaming with excitement,” assures the Jamaican singer, 29.
His reggae-pop single “Cheerleader” (Ultra) just crowned the Billboard Hot 100 after topping charts around the world, from Sweden to Australia on the United Kingdom. It has been time consuming climb: The original was obviously a hit within his native Jamaica in 2012, but it’s the 2014 remix by Felix Jaehn which has blown up. OMI, born Omar Samuel Pasley, isn’t celebrating — yet. “I attempt to stay focused. Whatever I did to obtain me until now, I’m going to have to keep doing it to be here. This is insufficient time for complacency, or to have comfortable.”
1. “Cheerleader” was eight years within the making.
“I wakened humming the melody one morning when I was 21,” says OMI, who still lives in Clarendon, the sleepy village he spent my childhood years in, a stone’s throw from Kingston. “It was such as a little Jamaican nursery rhyme, like ‘one, two, buckle my shoe,’ that type of thing — ‘ring game’ is really what we’d think of it as. The rest of the song just fell into place just like a jigsaw puzzle.”
2. “Omi” means “grandma” in German.
That’s only one foreign word he’s picked up on his many international jaunts because song ascended the charts. But “Omi,” short for Omar, is only the nickname his dad employed to call him. His father, a singer whose music OMI still learns, died when he was 9. “He was very excited about my mom, and the man had a great way of expressing himself musically — you could potentially hear the soul when he sang.”
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3. OMI hasn’t found his real-life cheerleader yet.
His last serious girlfriend was eight in the past, around the time shortly fater he began writing the song. “I’m not trying to find a ‘yes’ woman, but a robust person who knows ought to be objective and once not to be,” according to him. OMI’s pleased to report that his mother, who raised him and his awesome three older siblings alone, would be the No. 1 lady within his life for the moment. “My mom continues to be my support system from the first day. Admiring the kind of person she is gives me a sense what to look for inside my ideal cheerleader when time comes.”
4. He’s preparing his full-length debut album for just a fall release.
“People predict 15 [versions of] ‘Cheerleader,’ but it’s usually pretty diverse, by features and songs written from different perspectives.” He recorded it in Jamaica, Miami as well as the United Kingdom. “The different environments each brought inspiration.”
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5. His biggest indulgence to be a No. 1 star? Pimping his ride.
“So far I’ve got a new new group of rims for my car, a brown Infiniti. I love that car. I’m creating a face-lift.” But he’d as if you to know that has been no paid product placement: “That’s not for branding, furthermore — that’s actually what I drive.”