Fate is a strange thing. Life's twists and turns often make us question our path, question if there's any path being laid out for us at all. For Dreamville signee Omen, that path is finally beginning to reveal itself after over a year of detours, dead ends and stop signs.
“Now see god, I know you only do what´s best for me, but is it cool if we negotiate my destiny?” – Enchanted (Hail Mary)
Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, the now 32-year-old artist and producer fell in love with rap in his teens as he started to write rhymes and produce his own songs. After beginning to make a name for himself on various sites, he later met an artist who would explicitly shape his career, the Therapist, or as he's more commonly known, J. Cole. The pair quickly became close friends and began to collaborate musically, including the memorable “Mama Told Me” on Omen's acclaimed 2011 mixtape “Afraid of Heights.”
“Meanwhile I went from Omen to his little homie, you know his protege or whatever they wanna call me.” – Big Shadows
While his “big homie” was signed to one of the biggest rap stars in history (Roc Nation) and would later begin to headline world tours, the jokingly but fairly accurately nicknamed Turn Down King remained in the background, quietly observing and taking notes. Later Omen would sign a deal with Cole's own label, Dreamville, but in order to improve as an artist he took his time, gathered all the ideas and inspiration he had collected over the years, and began to apply it toward a full-length album.
“Look in my eyes maybe you can see a riot, have you ever heard a storm that was quiet?” – Motion Picture
After three long years and over 70 recorded songs, Omen's journey has reached its first climax with the release of his debut studio album, Elephant Eyes, this July. The 11-track album is filled with a sample-driven sound, produced mostly by Mr. Elephant Eyes himself, and honest and deeply introspective lyrics that live through Omen's excellent storytelling ability. These characteristics can be traced to years of opening for Cole on tour, practicing his craft live on stage in front of an audience of thousands. This same vitality has allowed Omen to create music that makes the listener connect to his personal stories (see “LoveDrug”), as well as the social issues he touches on in his music.
Maybe it was Omen's fate to meet Cole online, remain in the shadows for years, and meticulously craft his art in the background. Maybe this is the path he was always destined to travel, a path that will ultimately lead him to the land of his dreams. Only time will tell if Elephant Eyes leaves a lasting impression, allowing Omen to venture out on his own and jump-starting the next leg of his career, but it's clear through his latest work that his negotiations with destiny are finally beginning to go his way.
[Kevin Taylor is an aspiring music writer and master of the killer crossover. This is his Twitter.]