For most artists, releasing your album on Friday the 13th goes against all notions of superstition. Yet none of this is a problem for Omen as he openly embraces this and other coincidences for his long awaited solo debut, Bad.
As a producer and MC, Omen has been a quiet force within the Minneapolis scene dating back to the early 2000s performing at the legendary Dinkytowner Cafe alongside Dr. Strange and DJ Name as the group, Rockit Science.
“When I first came to Minneapolis,” said Omen, “I felt like there was a resistance to newcomers. It seemed territorial, and people were just hesitant to book anyone who hadn’t been there the whole time. Eventually the Dinkytowner gave us a shot, so we started opening shows, but it took a lot of persistence. Now it feels a little more inclusive, and it feels like a real community of artists has developed.”
The liner notes on Bad stand as a testament to the modern slice of the Twin Cities Hip Hop community as it features RP Hooks, Sean Anonymous, Shmooly, Moonlight Grammar, Phillip Morris, Hologram Kizzie and Maud’Dib rocking the mic alongside the gruff toned MC.
“The Minneapolis music scene is so great because it’s so diverse, so I hope it just keeps going, and stays progressive. We are at the forefront of music, especially rap, and it’s awesome to just be even the smallest part of Minneapolis music history.”
Although he has been releasing music through his Bandcamp for years, Omen will be the first to admit that his first love is behind the boards as he has been busy producing for artists such as Sean Anonymous and Phydelics. This passion shines through on Bad as he teamed up DJ Name to create the dark and driving production that allows Omen to flex his lyrical muscles.
“Me and Name have been making beats together since we were teenagers and have both taught each other a lot. I probably prefer producing beats to rapping a little bit, but writing is so therapeutic and it really helps me work out some real issues. Making a dope beat is definitely satisfying, but people are trying to get away from sample-based rap because of licensing and stuff like that, and that’s really where I have the most fun. I like dissecting a song with cool sounds, and reconstructing it how I’d want it. Honestly, though, at the end of the day I just want to create things, whether it’s a rap, a beat, or a stencil, or a flyer… That’s what motivates me, just making something cool.”
“They used to have beat battles there every month, and one particular battle, I thought I had the win locked. I had some fire, and thought it was finally my time, but right as we’re about to get started Cecil Otter strolls in, smirking. All the other producers are like ‘Damn…’ And of course he killed it. I’m pretty sure the beat he won with actually ended up being ‘Travelling Dunk Tank.’”
As frustrating as that defeat was, Omen has struggled with finding the time needed to dedicate to his craft while tackling the responsibilities to his clothing line, SexyQuality and working to make ends meet.
“I’ve definitely been really frustrated at times, and kind of disappeared from the scene to refocus, but music is my passion and if I have to make sacrifices to do it, then I’m willing to do it. I’m also super thankful to have a boss that gives me the flexibility I need to continue doing what I love. I work maintenance, and also do snow removal in the winter, so if it snows, I have to be there, but other than that they really give me a lot of freedom, as long as I’m getting the work done. Time management is always tough, but honestly, staying moving is what keeps me young, so I hope I’m never stagnant, and never have too much extra time to waste.”
Without wasting an opportunity to perform with some of the best artists, he will celebrate the release of Bad on Friday, March 13th at the Icehouse with help from the homies Big Zach, Freez, Manny Phesto and DJ Frank Castle.
“Zach was one of the first people to be cool to my crew at the Dinkytowner, and has always been a pure individual. I’ve known Freez forever, I’ve done a lot of shows with Illuminous 3, and also T.U.S.S. – that was always the tight Southside crew. I met Manny more recently, but I related to him right away, and he’s on that real rap shit. Frank has always been super solid, he’s quietly one of the better DJs in town. All those dudes are just super real, and I appreciate realness more than anything else.”