LeRock’s Exclusive Piece on Om’Mas Keith of Sa-Ra
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Om’mas Keith, one of three members of the group Sa-Ra, is the kind of man that is rare to find. Multi-talented, well-spoken, fashionable and a long list of attributes spring to mind. He is a multi-instrumentalist (drums, bass, piano, guitar & horns, in that order) who has spent 10+ years in the music industry producing, writing, arranging, and essentially branding himself as a jack-of-all-trades. He has been a judge on Making His Band with none other than the "key holder" Diddy, and continues to bless ears with his musical talent through producing, engineering and his work with Sa-Ra.
Upon his return to New York Om’mas found he had a neighbor who had a studio that had owned a beat machine. He took that opportunity to learn how to make beats and from there moved onto learning some engineering. Of his skill in knowing many instruments he says, " Necessity is the mother of invention. Many times you will find that to be the case with multi-instrumentalists. The necessity to play a bunch of instruments because that’s what you want to hear– that’s what you want on a record. Youre forced to do that because nobody is around." He also enrolls into the Institute of Audio Research, which at the time was the first school of audio engineering in the world and was located in Little Village in New York. Around the same time, he was in a group ROI (Rage of Insanity/Realization of Intelligence) that consisted of himself, Oz, and Lord Nes, which eventually led Om’mas to producing for the likes of Sha Money (50 Cents manager) and Ja Rule. By the time Om’mas was 17, Raw Breed wanted him to move to L.A.
In 1997, Om’mas visits L.A. and is picked up by a Bentley which takes him to meet Ice-T. It is at Ice-T’s home that he first meets future Sa-Ra member Shafiq Husayn. Upon his return to New York, he meets Jam Master Jay and for the next 3 years remains in the studio with acts such as Onyx, Jayo Felon, 8 Ball, and 50 Cent. Within the next couple of years, after being laid off by an advertising company, he decided he needed a break and had two major changes to his life. In 2000, Sa-Ra was formed and also during this time his daughter, Jeanette was born.
Sa-Ra, whose members are Shafiq Husayn, Taz Arnold and Om’mas was birthed from 3 men who love music and wanted to share their talent with others. The members have no defined roles although Shafiq is comfortable behind the beat machine, while Om’mas believe himself to be best at leading and purposing content. Their creative process is fairly simple. They each have their own skeletal structures for the music they would like to make and they come together at a ‘creative briefing’ and gain input from the other members. They describe their sound as Afromagnetic Electronic Spiritualism, which is a process that is a way of thought. While defined below, we are also encouraged to interpret it as we see fit.
The newest album, NE: AOL took two years as Sa-Ra has a "holistic approach" to creation. The wait allowed for features from both accomplished and up-and-coming artists such as award-winning saxophonist Gary Bartz (Cosmic Ball) is on the album, as is Erykah Badu and Brooke D’Leau from J*Davey. Not that Om’mas hasn’t been kept busy. Within the past few years, Om’mas has been heard playing keys on Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come and has worked with the likes of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Bilal and several others. Sa-Ra’s latest album, Nuclear Evolution: Age of Love, was given a 9 out of 10 rating in the July 2009 editon of Spin magazine. Their next release, Black Fuzz, will contain a feature by Herbie Hancock among others, but has no set release date.
Words on the Music Industry from Om’mas
Random Facts about Om’mas Keith