No one fucks to Mustard beats. Not even French Montana or the Kardashians.
Lucky for us proletarian lovers, there’s only one such beat on Omarion’s Sex Playlist, a radio ditty called "Post to Be" featuring Chris Brown and Jhené Aiko. Otherwise, Sex Playlist is all dimmers and massages. What could’ve arrived as a corny, blue-balled R. Kelly parody album with innuendo in triplicate is, instead, silky as a boutique lubricant. Now, show me your O-face.
Despite its hedonist billing, Sex Playlist is one of the most mature, refined, restrained male R&B projects from a major artist this year. Omarion opens with an expanse of cinematic synth, tapered by finger snaps to mellow the mood, only to reprise excitement with an extended tenor sax flourish at the three-minute mark. “Show Me,” with its tender assistance from Jeremih, is the album's first obvious standout, with chemistry and charisma that dwarfs the threesome with Breezy and Aiko.
This isn’t a hitmaker’s LP. Dance-floor appeal of “Post to Be” aside, the album’s passions are confined to a single figurative bedroom, with little time for intrusions. Only three tracks feature cameos, and Rick Ross is the only one rapping. “Bo$$,” with its rollicking drum kicks and profane hook, suits an album that’s otherwise too good for rap features. Omarion flits between rap and sung cadences throughout, on “Work” and “Deeper” in particular, but Omarion’s melodies are predominant, never breaking the spell or blowing his load. He edges nearest to climax on “Deeper,” singing: “No stopping you, clothes optional; towels onto the floor/Roll up, then we soar; I’m so in love with you/That’s why the room looks like a storm.”
Sex Playlist offers nothing as choreographed as “Ice Box” or “Touch,” or as bratty and saccharine as “Girlfriend.” We find Omarion long evolved from his B2K days. “Inside” and “Work” are the steamiest cuts, the former wrecking the mattress, the latter sweeping and escorting us to the shower. “Don’t Leave” is a whimper, preemptively wistful, a fine mist of Dior perfume trailing right out the door. Final bows “You Like It” (the debut single) and “Already” feature jazz brass breakdowns and merengue fusion that round out the album’s personality as playful, eclectic, and learned.
'Inside' and 'Work' are the steamiest cuts, the former wrecking the mattress, the latter sweeping and escorting us to the shower.
While we’re meanwhile deprived of new, long-awaited albums from Jeremih and Miguel, 2014 is nonetheless a banner year for male R&B projects. Sex Playlist is the crop’s cream, and all it’s enough for me to wonder why Omarion’s retreating to reality television as primary income, until I concede the meager, clusterfuck circumstance of the present-day music industry. The cover art for Sex Playlist is Omarion’s live recreation of George Condo’s lady phoenix illustration for Kanye West’s MBDTF—a visual reference that betrays no real sonic parallel. Sex Playlist is hardly dark and only physically twisted, a careful lover’s fantasy.