"I grew up listening to Biggie, Pac, and Eminem. It was from them that I developed an appreciation for lyrics."
Most will be surprised that the voice behind the sonically bright Cheerleader, Omar 'Omi' Pasley's first love for music was hip-hop. The May Pen-born, past student of Garvey Maceo High School, has catapulted into stardom with his ska-pop infused single Cheerleader. Lyrically, the track is an ode to Omi's most dedicated admirer throughout any circumstance he faces.
"Locally, I was first inspired by Tanya Stephens, who made me start to indulge in my culture, as her music made me incorporate elements of storytelling in my craft.
Omi's Jamaican culture is splashed throughout his songs, as he self-describes his sound as a "fusion of ska, mento, and digital production".
His lead single Cheerleader, landed on reggae charts in territories such as Hawaii and Dubai, before its current craze locally. He describes the song's rise as "strategically planned", with industry stalwart Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon at the helm.
Dillon has produced for the likes of Shabba Ranks and Patra, and according to Omi, Dillion's decorated history made his initial decision to work with him "an over-the-top feeling of excitement because he had worked with such luminaries."
Leading up to the release of Cheerleader in late 2011, Omi notes that he had been studio recording assiduously for two years, while trying to balance a full-time job. Dillon's plan of releasing the single to community sound systems in Miami and disc jockeys that toured with Alborosie worldwide, gave the song a grassroots-like ascension globally, with "social media making the song gather momentum in 2012", noted Omi.
"Cheerleader has a lot of relevance, It's easy to sing, yet has so much meaning," said Omi.
Listeners can look out for Fireworks and Take It Easy, the two latest singles by Omi, who shot videos for each track in Bend, Oregon, in the United States.
Omi's advice to other upcoming musicians about how to break into Jamaica's music industry scene, is that "Jamaicans love music, they just need to hear it. It's all about marketing, advertising, and repetition. The more persons hear a song, the more likely it will be a success."