I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Philadelphia native, NAACP Winner and New York Times Best Selling Author Omar Tyree. He is known for compelling novels such as “Fly Girl” “For the Love of Money” and “Diary of a Groupie”. His latest project called the “American Disease” focuses on the destructive thinking of Black America and where we stand with gaining capital and finances. He’s also working on producing music and allowed me to listen to a few of his creations and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard. We sipped on Mimosa’s while sharing in-depth conversation about his life and what inspires him.
Here’s how it all went down:
Nayomi: When did it dawn upon you that you had the gift of writing?
Omar: It wasn’t a writing gift I was just an excellent story teller. My mother was the oldest of eight and my father was the oldest of four and back in the baby booming days we had families that had like fifteen people in them and I was the youngest of all those people so there were stories everywhere. I was walking into all kinds of stuff as a kid because I was around a whole bunch of grown stuff.
When I got to college I was writing on a story telling level and my peers said I was really good, so I kept doing it.
Nayomi: the stories that you write about encompass what you have been through?
Omar: People assume that but again, I had aunts and uncles doing stuff I had nothing to do with. In a sense I’m a journalist. I have written over 30 books but I’m not 30 books. Certain elements you might put a piece in there if It fits. I study people. We had blocks in Philly where each household had at least 15 people in them, so we had blocks of 500 people. There was always something going on like fighting etc. So great story writing isn’t always about the writer.
Nayomi: How did it feel when you found out your first book had been published?
Omar: The first book I put out was “Colored on White Campus” I was a bully at that point and I was a hustler from Philadelphia and Howard University and had borrowed money to get the book out so I was shoving books down people’s throats. “Give me $10 and let me sign this book” is what I used to say to get the money back. Then I came up with the second book “Fly Girl” when I was like 24 years old and that book sold itself. I was doing expose and I was sort of like a baby in the game after while I got recognized. I wrote the three books “Colored on White Campus”, “Fly Girl” and “Capital City” before I got a major deal.
Nayomi: I heard of where some writers receive writers block….
Omar: I never had that! I do consultation for people who would like to learn to write better. They can hit me up at Omar8tyree @aol.com and I do consultations which I have been doing since 2008. I teach people that writers block is the fear of their own words. There is always a struggle of how to say something. So, what regular writers do is say the heck with it and we just let it fly. When you try to block yourself from the contents you are putting out there that’s what it ends up being. Your blocking yourself. If you just let it fly, that’s when it ends up being authentic. When you hold back it doesn’t become authentic writing. People get that you are holding back and that’s not real writing. When people hold back it never goes anywhere. Jill Scott and Erykah Badu are great examples of real writing and letting things fly.
Nayomi: What are you working on and what do you have coming up next?
Omar: Right now I have a project that is selling on Amazon.com and Barnesnoble.com and anywhere where you order eBooks. Its called “The American Disease” The first episode is “Full Blown and Fatal” and the second episode is “Survival of the fittest” I call it the American disease because we are talking about Capitalism and what Capitalism does to Black people when you don’t have money or when you (Black People) get money you become greedy and over powering with it. You don’t want to help the community but instead you buy 20 gold chains with diamonds and buy 5 cars and 5 houses but when a Black person asks you to invest in a business you don’t want to do it. And when you don’t have money you are doing crazy things to get it.
It’s sad when I see these reality shows because you know they are doing it for the money. A lot of these rappers that come out want to rap about other things but people tell them they won’t make any money doing that so they become these characters and you can’t believe anything any of them say or do now because it’s become so phony. Then you have athletes who make all of this money who have never been business people.
I’ve been around athletes all my life who all they do is play the sport they don’t know anything about money. Then they get 10,20, or 40 million dollars in a year. Some of these guys then become business people such as Lebron James but a lot of them dudes don’t have any idea about money and then they are broke after 3 or 4 years. I have all those types of people in that book. I’m going to do an episode every month and it can be downloaded for $3.95 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Nayomi: Let’s talk about the NAACP Award. What was that experience like?
Omar: I had no idea that I was going to win that. I was out there with all these stars like Jill Scott, Common, Denzel Washington, Destiny’s Child was there. Shemar Moore had all these cameras on him and didn’t win anything. Here I am with the trophy and no one wanted to interview me. I was very outspoken about the unfairness of that.
Nayomi: I bet you were outspoken about that. I would have interviewed you if I was there(laughing) You are now into music. How did that come about?
Omar: I have to remind people all the time. What city do I come from?
Omar: Philly started soul music. I was growing up with the funk music then as a teenager in the 80’s spawning of hip hop with the club parties and the block parties. Then in the 90’s I was a college student where we had Tupac and Biggie. I went to Howard with Puffy throwing all the parties and we also had house music back then. I’m a sponge so writing music came natural to me. I kept the book writing going and I was writing music as well. I have some young artists that I’m working with within the US and in London. These people are incredible. They reach out to me and say they wrote a song and I put a beat to it and there it is.
Nayomi: I’m going to have you provide your social media handles so that we can follow you and your music.
Omar: Omar Tyree on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also on Soundcloud. I have an Omar Tyree YouTube page as well. I have Hot Lava Entertainment, the name of my music group and the website hotlavaentertainment.com
Nayomi: Thank you so much for joining me today! It has been amazing!
Omar: Thank you! It was a pleasure.