Inglewood singer and producer Iman Omari has released nearly 10 projects over the course of four years, and when he dropped his most recent LP, 2015’s instrumental High-Loops & Higher-Loops, the buzz around his work had reached a deafening pitch. In truth, it had been growing for some time. Omari’s list of collaborators gradually had grown to include marquee names like Mac Miller and MNDSGN. But the tipping point came when Kendrick Lamar used one of Loops’s standout tracks, “Omari’s Mood,” to open his stellar performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Understandably, the increased attention began to rattle Omari; after four years of steady output, the time had come for him to take a vacation.
Omari used the time off to regroup and re-learn the practice of patience. Now, just two short years later, Omari is creating comfortably again. He says his new album, IHY, is the “next step forward” from his last vocal release, 2014’s Samadhi. Accordingly, it’s focused on the idea of maturity, growing into both adulthood and romantic love.
On the first two singles—”So Real” with rapper/producer Quelle Chris and “Move Too Fast” featuring singer Anna Wise—Omari sounds focused, determined, and direct. On his previous work, Omari played the randy bachelor in pursuit of momentary pleasures. The song on IHY are after something more meaningful—it’s deeper than “I love you and let’s have sex,” he tells me.
Over the course of our conversation, Omari was audibly energized, detailing his plans to release more music at the top of 2018, after IHY drops. (He described the coming months as a “return to form.”) We discussed the motivation and meaning behind IHY, what he learned about himself during his hiatus, and the evolution of his sound