Monday, 1 August 2011

Remembrance Monday: Omero Mumba - Lil' Big Man

It's summer 2002 and Samantha Mumba is a bona fide star. Over the past two years she's had five Top 10 hits - one of which going Top 5 in America - and a platinum album. The only problem is that she hasn't released anything since last Christmas, and although her second album will surely be just as, if not more, successful than her first, there's currently a bit of a dearth of Mumba in pop. It's a gap that has to be filled. 'I wonder if any of Samantha's family are similarly musically talented', thinks someone at Polydor. 'Everyone loves a bit of Mumba, so perhaps we could find another one to plug the gap while she's away.' What a genius idea.

Step into the breach one Omero Mumba, Samantha's 13 year old brother, who fancied himself as a bit of rapper. No one was going to tell him he wasn't very good, but what did that matter anyway? This was going to be the start of a great pop dynasty. The Mumbas could easily be the next Jacksons, or, at the very least, the next Five Star. All that was needed was a debut single that would capture Britain's hearts and minds, just as Samantha had.

'Lil' Big Man' was that single. Or at least it was supposed to be. An oddly celebratory affair for a first release, it featured Omero rapping about "MCing shows with 'N Sync" and being "all up in the movie screen" (He was also afforded the privilege of featuring in a remake of 'The Time Machine' with his sister.) Despite revelling in the trappings of his sudden fame, there was also time for reflection on its pitfalls. At the end of the day, Omero was still only "the kid that be bubblin' from Dublin" who was ultimately "scared of missing out on my childhood", which is quite a sad lyric really. Throw in some contemporary references ("Surely looking good though like 3LW", "Shake your bon bon") and you have a surefire hit. A surefire Number 42 hit, to be precise.

So unfortunately Omero couldn't replicate his sister's success. In fact, neither could she. Her second album never came out and she instead turned to acting, or to give it its proper title, 'acting', starring in blockbusters like 'Johnny Was' with Vinnie Jones, Lennox Lewis (!) and Roger Daltrey (!!). She has flirted with a return to music, least notably in 2009, when she featured on Bruneian popstar Hill's single 'Stay In The Middle'. The video for 'Stay In The Middle' was directed by Omero, and won the third place award for 'Most Mindblowing Video' at the Asia Pacific Voice Independent Music Awards. So that's something to be proud of. If YouTube comments are anything to go by - and conventional wisdom suggests they are - 'directing' is now Omero's trade, although there are no signs of him having actually directed anything other than that video. On the plus side he's apparently in LA and is still only 22, so there is definitely time for him to make his name yet.

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