R&B singers Mario and Omarion (Courtesy Photos)

By Stephanie Harper,
Special to the AFRO

Charm City native Mario showed up to the latest Verzuz TV battle against Omarion ready and more than able to defend his title as a vocal master in the music industry. 

For more than two hours the two artists went head to head, with Mario demolishing his competition over and over again during the live stream. 

Mario Barrett, better known as Mario, was put against Omari “Omarion” Grandberry, of the 2000s R&B boy band, B2K. 

The show proved to be one of the most anticipated R&B Verzuz events, with appearances from acts of the 2000-2010 era such as Bobby Valentino, Pleasure P, Sammie and Ray J. 

The drama kicked off early with Ray J’s becoming upset after vocalist Sammie began to harmonize and perform silky background vocals over his struggling lead. 

Mario is an R&B singer who is known for his hit singles, “Let Me Love You” and “How Do I Breathe.”

The two contenders appeared more than two hours into the show and the rivalry began. Mario kicked the pettiness into high gear when he brought out B2K impersonators to do the “Omarion Challenge,” after noting the singer didn’t invite his former bandmates. 

Throughout the show there were various dance breaks from Omarion and how will we ever forget the watermelon?

During the third hour, Omarion broke the tension by calling his younger brother and R&B singer, O’Ryan to the stage. Together, the brothers demonstrated a special talent that some have seen before as part of their antics to entertain viewers.  With two large slices of watermelon in tow, the two brothers proceeded to sensually eat the fruit– rendering half the audience speechless and sending the other half into fits of laughter. The virtual audience quickly crowned Omarion with the moniker “O’melon,” a name that has been trending on the internet all day. 

R&B singer and former B2K lead singer, Omarion is known for his hit records, “Bump, Bump, Bump” and “Touch.”

Aside from the gimmicks, Mario proved that he still has the range and charm to keep up on the vocal stage. While some viewers may have been put off by Mario’s cocky demeanor,  others found his confidence warranted, given his decades of hits with no backing from a group.

During one of the last sets, Mario called out Omarion for singing B2K songs. Omarion responded by saying the B2K songs were “his vocals,” prompting viewers to compare him to David Ruffin, of the Temptations. 

This edition of Verzuz proved to be as entertaining as anticipated with music jams from the early 2000s keeping the nostalgia high for over four hours. Baltimore residents tuned in until the very end, proud to see Mario recognize the City as his hometown.

Mario proved that his smooth delivery of love ballads, falsetto riffs and runs still rightfully deserve a spot on the Billboard charts. Once again the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) has proved that solid talent can continue to pave the way for years of success. 

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