When I stumbled upon Ella Mai in late March 2018, I felt like I struck Spotify gold. I was hooked right away when I heard the sultry and self-confident chorus of her single "Naked." It was the type of soft but grounded voice so essential to the sound of R&B that I had been dying to hear.
No surprise that I added all of her songs to my playlists and listened to them day in and day out. I simply couldn't get enough of her and how well her music complimented and didn't overpower the beautiful simplicity that is her voice.
I think I sent screenshots of the songs to friends for a few weeks. I couldn't understand why no one I knew hadn't heard of her yet.
Then I heard it. I heard "Boo'd up" on the radio on my drive home from work one night in June. Earlier in May, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article on Ella praising her for leading female R&B singers back onto the charts. You can check out Rolling Stone's article here!
And god damn I couldn't have said it better myself. Ella's name is being held up to the likes of Jhene Aiko and SZA, the only other two women who have landed a spot in Billboard's Top 20 singles in hip-hop and R&B since 2012. Something that proved very difficult for women in R&B since not a single female was named in 2012, 2013 or 2017 list.
Music quality aside, Women haven't been frontrunners in R&B since the 1990s and it's been clear that women haven't been music producer's priority making the accomplishments of these women in the past year a huge deal.
This change in R&B's climate now focusing on vocals and melodies is not only beneficial for female artists of the genre but all females. We are now seeing a hunger for strong female artists in this 'year of the woman' especially young girls yearning for more female role models.
So here's to you Ella Mai, thanks for creating such catchy and swoony melodies to fuel our throwback seeking summers! Thanks for not giving up after leaving your trio in 2014, releasing EP's on Soundcloud and officially releasing your first EP of a trilogy in February 2016.
If you haven't checked out her music yet here are a few suggestions
Naked: when you're home in your feels
Boo'd Up/ Boo'd Up remix w/ Nicki Minaj and Quavo: Late night drive to your local Wawa
She Don't (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign): The Pregame
Don't want you: when you're home in your feels part 2, getting ready for pregame, drive to work