KillerHipHop Exclusive: Omen Interview
There are a million rappers, there are a million artists, there are a million producers poppin’ up on all the everyday blogs. To have the opportunity to stand out and to have my fans tell their families and friends about me is just great.
Chicago’s hip-hop scene has brought us great rappers such as Kanye West, Common, Twista, GLC, Rhymefest and more, but you are now going to be introduced to another rapper who is slowly but steadily making a mark on the Chicago rap scene. He goes by the name of Damon Colemen also known as Dreamville’s Omen. Mr. Omen was brought onto the scene on the song “The Badness” off J. Cole‘s second mixtape The Warm-Up. He then got more recognition by the remarkable song called “Enchanted” on Jermaine’s third mixtape Friday Night Lights.
As Omen recently dropped his highly acclaimed mixtape Afraid Of Heights, his recognition just got elevated a bit more. KillerHipHop was honored enough to be given the opportunity to interview Omen and get to know this upcoming lyricist a little more. Omen talks about his new mixtape Afraid of Heights, Dreamville, Chicago, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, his inspirations and so much more.
KillerHipHop: For those who don’t know who you are, who is Omen?
Omen: Omen is a rapper, producer from Chicago. I’ve been doing things for a minute now, but I feel like people are now taking notice of who I am. Just put out a [mixtape] called, Afraid Of Heights. I’ve been on tour in Europe and in the US with J. Cole & Drake. I’m just trynna make a big name for myself and I have a lot of things I would like to do in the future.
KillerHipHop: Do you think your name is known yet or still on the come-up in Chicago Hip-Hop?
Omen: It’s weird. It’s like I’m known here but at the same time I’m not. It’s like people know my name but then people don’t know my face. They also reminisce by saying “Oh I’ve heard of the name ‘Omen'”. I think my name is getting noticed a little more since the drop of Afraid Of Heights but I feel like it’s all going to change pretty soon.
KillerHipHop: When and why did you start rapping and when did the producing come in?
Omen on Rapping: I actually started late. I was writing in high school. I really didn’t take it too serious because I was really into basketball back then. Then I started to get serious [about rapping] once I got into college. It was really out of people asking me, “Why am I not taking [rapping] more serious?” Like most people I had my hoop dreams, but that didn’t work. So I was like “Okay, now what?”, I went back to realizing that I had this interest in music that I’ve been ignoring and not taking it serious. So around 2002 I began to take music serious, starting writing more and recording. Once I started recording I started to learn how to flow in, breath controls and all that.
Omen on Producing: Then about 2 or 3 years after I started becoming serious in rapping, I got tired of looking online and asking people for beats. I’ve always been the type of person that don’t really like asking people for things. So I had to find a way to do it on my own, and taught myself how to make beats. I would actually hit up my man, Voli, and he would teach me how to use FruityLoops over the phone. That’s how I first started.
KillerHipHop: What are your musical inspirations behind your samples and production?
Omen: I got super inspired by J Dilla. I didn’t know him but when I heard his music I felt like I knew him. He was someone I really, really wanted to work with. But when he died, I realized I won’t have that opportunity. But on the producing side, it was J Dilla, Pete Rock, Premier, Timbaland, Kanye [West]. As far as like samples, I really don’t have a natural preference, but I search through soul, rock alternative, and more. I really like the type of music from the 60s and 70s rock.
KillerHipHop: Would you say you like The Beatles type of 60s rock?
Omen: Yeah, something like that. I think it’s because I had a lot of music playing in my house, so there was a wide variety of music being played. From like The Jackson 5, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, and all type of influences in music. I remember my mom was a huge Beatles fan, and that was something I was probably attracted to.
KillerHipHop: What do your parents say about your career?
Omen: They are very supportive. That’s just the type of people they are. Also because they had music dreams as well. So to me to do what they wanted to do is great for them. My mom wanted to sing and my dad was a singer, well still is. My step-dad sings, plays the piano, and the Bass. So they’re very supportive.
KillerHipHop: Now I saw in an interview that you talked about how you met J. Cole, supposedly you guys met through a website around 1998? Am I correct?
Omen: Yeah, we were all huge Canibus fans back then. It was J. Cole, Elite, Voli & I. It’s just weird to even talk about it because [chuckles] we were just on there like nerds writing rhymes and look at us now. We were just super rap fans, and we are still to this day. Basically we met on the forum and just started rap battling [online] but we also kept in touch within the years and kept mutual respect for one another. We would help each other out, help each others songs, help critique,etc. It’s just cool that we became actually friends.
KillerHipHop: On Twitter, I asked the KillerHipHop fans if they had any questions for you and a lot of people responded. I got one great question from @TheBlackIcarus and they asked, “What’s your favorite track off Afraid of Heights? And what were your expectations and what’d you hope to accomplish releasing it?
Omen: It kind of changes, but right now my favorite one is “Stories“. Maybe it’s because of the honesty. It’s real emotions and it’s not just something that I’m writing as a rapper. I feel like people can totally relate to it. On what have I done, and how I reached my level. Especially with the high school peers and etc. but yeah, that’s my favorite song right now, probably “Windows” too.
As far as for expectations, I expected people to know me a lot better which I think has happened. Just basically get my name well known. Hopefully this is the project that makes me super, super blow. It could happen but it usually doesn’t work like that. It takes some time and a couple of projects for people to see “oh okay this guy is serious, or this guy is really good.” Since there are so many artists out, so many mixtapes being put out, people need to think thoroughly and I expect to hopefully get more shows, some solid fans and help get my name out there more so for when my next project happens people would be excited for it.
KillerHipHop: Are there any talks of a Dreamville mixtape or album coming out soon between J. Cole, Voli, Elite and yourself?
Omen: Actually a lot of people ask that question. I think it’s a dope idea. I personally think it’ll just be a better deal once we are all more established. Like as far as for Elite, Voli and I. We still have to show the world that we are individual artists. We don’t want people saying, “Oh that’s Elite, J. Cole’s producer or that’s Voli, he’s this and that, or that’s Omen, J. Cole’s this or that”, you know. So once we establish ourselves individually then it’ll be more powerful when, if ever ,we get together for that project. It’s a good idea, but just need the right timing.
KillerHipHop: As being part of Dreamville, has J. Cole done anything to help you breach out your name more?
Omen: Yeah, I think. I mean the two songs [with him] alone helped out. Giving me a European audience, that’s just incredible. Especially with me performing overseas. To be realistic, most people know me from those songs on his mixtape. I feel like that alone is enough , really. That’s all I can really ask for.
KillerHipHop: Do you think a music video for “Mama Told Me” ft. J. Cole is going to happen?
Omen: Well, we haven’t talked about it but it’ll be dope. I’m definitely going to see. His schedule is just super crazy. We’ll see.
KillerHipHop: Do you and J. Cole have anymore music coming out soon?
Omen: We have songs that we haven’t released but you know I’m sure we’ll make more music. That’s my brother you know.
KillerHipHop: The track “Look Of Lust” ft. Kendrick Lamar & Shalonda is one my favorites off ‘Afraid Of Heights’, how did the collabo of you and Kendrick came about?
Omen: I actually met Kendrick in L.A. I was out there with [J.] Cole at NO I.D.’s studio and you know Kendrick being from L.A. came through and we met outside. We began talking and told me how he was a fan of the song “Enchanted” with Cole. I told him I thought his music was dope. We just basically stay connected from there. As I think about it, I had the song for a minute. With the song, I felt like Kendrick’s flow and voice would be good for the song, so I hit him up and he was down to do it.
KillerHipHop: I’ve heard that some fans say that they consider J. Cole as “The Preacher”, Drake as “The Lover”, and Wale as “The Poet”, which style of rap do you consider yourself?
Omen: Wow. That’s a good question. What’s funny is that you know those labels, I don’t think they would agree with them. Like with Cole, I don’t think he’ll be cool being called, “The Preacher” [laughs]. But it’s a good question, but I hope one day I get labeled as “The Innovator”.
KillerHipHop: How do you feel about being compared and reminded as a young Common especially since you two come from Chicago?
Omen: I don’t compare myself to him but I can totally understand how that comparison comes about. For one, Common still is one of my biggest influence. In Chicago, we have Kanye, Da Brat, Lupe, Twista and etc. Actually, Common is from my neighborhood. I just actually want to be another staple for chicago hip-hop and show the fans a side of the the city and what its about.
KillerHipHop: To you, what makes Chicago Hip-Hop different from NY Hip-Hop or LA Hip-Hop?
Omen: I think it’s the city that makes us different. For one, the way the city is put together is very segregated. First thing I notice about New York was how integrated they are. But here in Chicago you have your black neighborhood, your white neighborhood, your Italian neighborhood like everything is segregated. The crime and violence also makes you aware of your surroundings. You also have to be genuine in Chicago. People can tell when your being a fake and that comes through the music as well. That is why all the Chicago artists that make it are so soulful, genuine, and true to themselves because the city doesn’t accept you to be anyone else.
KillerHipHop: Who would you love to work with in the future in a song or production wise?
Omen: There’s a lot of different people. Nas…he’s might favorite of all-time. That’ll be huge. Andre , Eminem, Common, Kanye, there’s just so many people to name that even. As far as producing it would be Neptunes, Timbaland, Madlib, there’s just a lot of different people. Lauryn Hill would be incredible or Erykah Badu. It’s just hard to pin point one person.
KillerHipHop: What’s up next in the future for Omen since the mixtape is out?
Omen: I’m going to release more music of course. I’m still doing work. I’m probably going to have some videos from the mixtape, that’s number one. I mainly more focused on doing shows in Chicago but I am open to do shows anywhere else. It’s really the fans, the more fans I get the more access they’ll get to me.
KillerHipHop: What’ s the hardest part about being Omen?
Omen: Hardest part? Hmmm. Good question. It’s hard to answer that because there’s so many people in the world dealing with harder things in life than I am. I think its more so that I’m impatient. All the hard work I put into projects, I just want that immediate pay over. Like I want people to notice right away, and just say “You don’t see what I just made, the project I just made, isn’t it great?” I am definitely grateful for everything. I also have a hate/love relationship with Twitter but I love the fact that you can check the instant comments from the fans. But again, there are worse problems in the world. People don’t have food or money to keep living and etc. but I am grateful for the life that I have now.
KillerHipHop: If you could say anything to your fans, what would it be?
Omen: There are a million rappers, there are a million artists, there are a million producers poppin’ up on all the everyday blogs. To have the opportunity to stand out and to have my fans tell their families and friends about me is just great. So thank you, thank you and there’s a lot more to come.
Read this slowly. Do. Not. Fall. Asleep. On. This. Guy. Omen has what it takes to make it to the top. His mixtape is a great stepping stone to his success. The mixtape Afraid Of Heights brings a mix of soul, raw rap, and just a true essence of Chicago hip-hop that we all love. With the push and determination from his Dreamville colleagues, Omen will show the world and his new fans that his lyricism is going to outshine the hip-hop world and will leave a stamp as a great rapper from Chicago.
If you want to know more about Omen check him out on:
Article & interview by @DJEricKidd