Lost but not least! Omar feat. Caron Wheeler – Treat You (Opolopo Remix) (Freestyle Records)
Omar, Caron Wheeler and Opolopo… Here we go with the assurance life’s gonna treat you good!
Born in Hungary although gone to Sweden at an early age to leave communism behind, Peter Major (Opolopo) has established himself as a wizard of oz. In terms of production/post-production. Meanwhile delivering reworks of jewels such as Mario Biondi‘s ‘This Is What You Are’ and Gregory Porter‘s ‘1960 What?’. This in addition Sandy Barber‘s ‘I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own)’ to name but a few. His firm Soul and Jazz background allowing him to get them into a contemporary if not futuristic level.
This is nothing but what to expect on ‘Treat You’. A cool jam taken from Omar‘s 2013 ‘The Man’ album that sees him exploring the bitter sweet aspects of a troubled love affair. Meanwhile sharing the bill with Caron Wheeler. Opolopo enhancing its feeling with a delicately precise modern (groovy) twist.
Treat you right. Treat you good. That’s just what we’ve got here…
– A native of London, Omar Christopher Lye-Fook, MBE grew up in Canterbury, Kent. This in the middle of a family of artists in their respective owns. Beginning with his dad, Byron, who worked as a studio musician and drummer with various luminaries. From Bob Marley to Horace Andy and even The Rolling Stones.
Omar‘s younger brother, the Grammy winning producer, remixer and DJ professionally known as Scratch Professor has been making jaws drop since the age of 13. Brilliantly stunning the crowd at the 1988 DMC UK Finals with his turntable skills. Meanwhile, Samia (Omar’s sister) is a renowned vocalist in her own right, and a BRIT School alumna.
A musical prodigy, Omar learned his craft classically. Eventually playing the trumpet, piano, bass guitar and percussion. A former principal percussionist of the Kent Youth Orchestra and later a graduate of the Guildhall School Of Music, he released his first single – ‘Mr Postman’ – on his father’s Kongo label back in 1985. Welcoming Caron Wheeler as a backing vocalist. He then came to drop his debut-album featuring the (title) track that changed it all for him… ‘There’s Nothing Like This’! And eventually got us to meet for the very first time before Gilles Peterson signed him on Talkin’ Loud.
Strangely enough, his liaison with Talkin’ Loud happened to be quite brief. Thus seeing him releasing a follow up-album – ‘Music’ – in 1992. This before switching to RCA two years later with ‘For Pleasure’. An album that saw him collaborating with David Frank of The System fame. And also with the late Leon Ware, Vanessa Simon, Maxton Beesley and Ray Parker, Jr. among others. With the whole givin’ birth to gems such as ‘Keep Steppin”, ‘Saturday’ and ‘Outside’. Meanwhile, from his 1997 ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ one would most likely remember ‘Say Nothin” and its alternative version featuring US Rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Omar opened his Third Millennium account with the delivery of his best ‘Best By Far’ album on French label Naïve. This seeing him covering William DeVaughn‘s classic ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ (with its title shortened to ‘Be Thankful’), along with Erykah Badu.
Another six years on, then came his ‘Sing (If You Want It)’ album and the collaboration from extra luminaries. From Angie Stone to Common and Estelle (Swaray). This in addition to Stevie Wonder on the memorable ‘Feeling You’ which Ben Schwarz eventually remixed for Peppermint Jam. And the same extra period of time to see him collecting his MBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Then make his debut the year after on Freestyle Records with ‘The Man’. An album which features a new version of ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ (featuring guitarist Pino Palladino). But also ‘Treat You’ along with long time friend Caron Wheeler and remixing work courtesy of Opolopo.
2014 saw the release of ‘Stop War, Make Love’. A friendly version of ‘Fµ** War, Make Love’ from his ‘The Man’ album which got us to welcome him for a chat on these shores. Then, 3 years after, came ‘Love In Beats’, his last album to date. An effort that saw him jammin’ along luminaries such as the late Leon Ware and The Floacist. Not to mention Robert Glasper, Ty or Natasha Watts.
With (only) 8 albums since his debut, some might think Omar has taken his time. But this would be forgetting his collaborations with countless of his contemporaries. As a featured artist, a backing vocalist or a songwriter. Writing ‘I Should’ve Known Better’ along with Mica Paris and co-producing it back in 1990. But also contributing to Misty Oldland‘s ‘Got Me A Feeling’ 3 years later.
Just like Robert Owens, as already said elsewhere on these shores, and although comin’ from different surroundings, Omar has brilliantly showcased his versatility along with time. Collaborating with Maddslinky back in 2010 on the bouncing ‘Special’, then with The Layabouts in 2012 on ‘As Long As You Believe’. But also with Dilouya on ‘Over The Sun’ that same year. A cut which resurfaced in October 2017 on Foliage Records with remix courtesy of Atjazz. And what about the boiling ‘Ding Ding’ along with Hallex M and DJ Fudge, also given a new life by the beginning of 2018 as remixed by DJ Beloved?
The end of the Summer of 2018 seein’ him sharing the vocal duties along with Darien Dean on the Hallex M produced ‘Straight Up!’. A cut most likely destined to feature in our 10 essential tracks of the year.
Omar also ventured into African territories along with Boddhi Satva on ‘Benefit’. And he also joined Ralf GUM on ‘Love Core’ and, more recently Los Charly’s Orchestra on ‘History’ which received the remix treatment courtesy of John Morales.
– Lookin’ in the list of possible remixers for someone to give a contemporary (if not futuristic) feel to your music? Then chances are great you would find Opolopo on top of it along with others studio wizards such as Atjazz, Henrik Schwarz or Aki Bergen. This pretty much depending on the direction you want to give to your work, as a matter of fact.
Speakin’ of Hungary, Peter Major (Opolopo) hardly knows more than the fact it happened to be his native country. Her mom deciding to leave it during the communist period. This during a visit she made to his dad (himself a musician) who was touring in Sweden at the time. With the whole family changing nationality soon after.
Sweden being a country where Jazz has an undeniable meaning – with thanks to its prolific scene – no wonder how it got an echo on Opolopo‘s construction. As DJ, a remixer or an artist on his own rights.
Opolopo released his first album – ‘Omnifarious’ – back in 2003 on Australian label Collision Records. And he got commissioned to do his first remix two years later. This while retouching ‘Freeze The Cut’ for Comfort Fit feat. Blaktroniks on Japanese label Tokyo Dawn Records. From then, he has dropped 4 extra albums with his latest – ‘Superconductor’ – back in 2015 on Joey Negro‘s Z Records label. Meanwhile collaborating with luminaries such as Keni Burke (‘So Good’) and Paul Randolph (‘Sustain’). But also Taka Boom (‘Feels Good 2 Me’) and the late Diane Charlemagne (‘Round And Round’).
As a remixer, Opolopo made quite an impression with his rework of Mario Biondi & The High Five Quintet‘s ‘This Is What You Are’ back in 2007. But he most likely would get his breakthrough 5 years after with his Rerub’ of Gregory Porter‘s seminal ‘1960 What?’. This masterpiece bringin’ him on everyone’s lips lookin’ for the next sensation. Beginning with ours since we’ve relaunched IDMW back by the beginning of the Summer 2014. And most definitely standing among those we tend to champion the (re)works of.
His list of the likes is quite impressive with more than 100 quotes on Discogs to date and 350 on Traxsource. From Sandy Barber‘s ‘I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own)’ to Ferry Ultra feat. Gwen McCrae‘s ‘Let Me Do My Thang’. But also Deep Tenor City‘s ‘Oba’ and Jarrod Lawson‘s ‘Sleepwalkers’. Not to mention Los Charly’s Orchestra‘s ‘All Around The World’ and Lisa Stansfield‘s ‘Picket Fence’in 2015. Then what about The Jacksons‘ ‘Everybody’ which he’d retouched the year before? Or Omar feat. Caron Wheeler‘s ‘Treat You’ the year after???
Opolopo regularly updating his list since. This with Rhemi feat. Cassius‘ ‘Beat Within’. Then, more recently Rapson‘s ‘Heat’ and Kenny Thomas‘‘Your Love’ among others. Not to mention Kelvin Sylvester & Natasha Watts‘ ‘Fly Away’…