*Omar Gooding has been a mainstay on television since the early 1990s but there’s another side to him that has been itching to come out – he is a rapper that goes by the name “Big O.”
“That’s my nickname for people that know me,” Omar told Lee Bailey at one of his recent performances at LaMarr Blackmon’s Underground Hit Breakers Independent Showcase and Comedy Slam in Inglewood, CA. “When I do hip hop, it’s just me.“
“People don’t know that I’ve been rapping just about the same time I’ve been acting,” he continued. “But one pays more bills than the other. So, I finally put out a solo album called ‘The Excuse.’ Big O, that’s how we get down. It’s available everywhere, live streaming. Everywhere digitally.” (Check it out here).
The death of his famous father – Cuba Gooding, Sr. (lead singer of 70s group The Main Ingredient) at the age of 72 in April 2017 from natural causes – pushed Omar to get serious about sharing his music.
“With my father’s passing, it felt like a passing of the torch for me to continue giving the musical excellence, if you will, that I’ve been taught – the work ethic and putting out stuff that you like. The album I put out, I like the album. I play it a lot.”
Omar’s busy acting career is what kept his music on the backburner. His biggest roles were in the shows “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” (1992-1997) and “Smart Guy” (1997-1999). He also had roles in “One On One” (2002-2003), “Playmakers” (2003), and the TV version of the film “Barbershop” (2005-2006). More recently, he has been on Bounce TV’s “Family Time” since 2012, in which he also co-produces and even writes episodes.
In between his numerous TV credits, his movies include John Singleton’s “Baby Boy” (2001) and many independent releases, with additional ones on the way.
“I was an actor at the age of ten,” Omar said. “It’s’ just been one long roller coaster ride in the sense of I started on one show then I went to another show and another show. Then I did a movie and the movie blew up. I’ve never had the chance to just sit down and sync into music and hip hop because it wasn’t, per se, my lane. It wasn’t my bread winner.”
Now at 42, he is not afraid to put music in his lane or call his sound old school.
“Compared to the current state of hip hop, yeah it’s old school,” Omar said. “I’m not trying to be negative but there’s a term called ‘mumble rappers,’ which is pretty much a purposeful style in which it kind of got to a point where – it’s not lazy, it’s not caring – it’s a style, a lane that they’re in. It’s trap music and they’re not emphasizing making sure that they’re heard and understood.”
He continued, “That’s not the world I’m from. I’m from the world where if I wrote something and put a lot of time and effort in it, I want to make sure you understand every single word that I spit. So, it’s clear, very audible, and makes you want to think a little bit. And it just tells my story and that’s Big O.”
While part of his story is that he is the son of a well-known singer and the younger brother of famed actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., he does not want to promote those facts to get cred for his music.
“There’s two ways to look at it,” Omar said. “People will say, ‘Oh, I like how you became your own man and how you didn’t have to ride on the backs of your Oscar winning brother or your famous father. You just did your own thing and let people come to you. You didn’t put it out there like that.’ Or it’s, ‘Damn, why you keeping this from us? Why you hiding it? How come you didn’t tell us?’ It all depends on how you look at it.”
JASON MITCHELL DROPPED BY AGENCY, FIRED FROM ‘THE CHI’ AND ‘DESPERADOS’ DUE TO MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS
He continued, “I went my way which is I’m just gonna do me and let it come. I don’t come in tooting my own horn with big security and an entourage and this ‘n that. I just walked in the building (tonight) and was carded three times since I been here, and I was supposed to headline. So, it’s one of those things where it’s cool – now, let me just get on stage.”
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’
*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.
“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).
It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.
EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.
Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars. As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.
This year has been a year like no other. “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead. Radio Programmers click here for adds.
“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita. The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture. “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms. Click here to listen on Spotify.
Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH
*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai
SCREENPLAY BY | Kurt Wimmer
STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.
Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language
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