Ella Mai has steadily risen up the R&B ranks this summer, dropping two classic hits in “Boo’d Up” and “Trip.” Today, she looks to continue her ascension to the top, dropping her first full length album titled after her short and easy to remember name.
HONORABLE. GOOD BAD The Medical term for “Good Bad” is bi-polar, Ella… I thought “Good Bad,” the second song on this album, served as the perfect theme song for people that didn’t quite know who Ella Mai was as both a person and an artist. On it, she comes across as diva-ish and non-chalant, but also understanding. Her vocal performance on this song didn’t quite blow me away, but her lyrical content did draw me with its brutally honest nature. Do you know how many girlfriends are probably saying “Amen” to everything Ella is saying on this song? I feel like she is describing what my girlfriend has been since she got comfortable as s**t with me in ourrelationship.
“Sauce” features a version of Ella Mai that’s feeling herself quite a bit, as she talks about being way too much to handle for guys that date her. Throughout, she’s cold, dismissive, and most importantly, honest. I love her cool as a cucumber bravado to her singing (It’s very Rihanna-esque), and when you add that infectious bop from the instrumental to the equation, you have one of the most effortlessly laid down hits in R&B history.
4. SHOT CLOCK
I probably like “Shot Clock” more for its clever theme as opposed to how it sounds
“Shot Clock” is slick as f**k! On it, Ella gives her guy 24 seconds to fix things with her before she starts considering other options. The instrumental attached to the track has this very sluggish tempo, which gives the UK singer enough time to sound impatient, peeved and sexy for the full duration of it. She also gets a chance to reach a few different vocal pitches that her naysayers didn’t think she can reach (And she reaches them pretty effortlessly, too).
This song heavily samples Drake’s “Legend” track from “If You’re Reading This Then It’s Too Late.”
3. BOO’D UP
Between listening to the original version, remixes and covers of this song, I’ve heard “Boo’d Up” 1,247 times this year. (I’m tired of hearing this f**kin’ song, guys!)
The moment I heard “Boo’d” up for the first time, I knew it was a hit. It has this old school R&B feel, but unlike other modern artists that try to dabble in this sound, Ella was able to make it feel more natural and revitalized. I don’t know if its her willingness to get lost in every aspect the beat offers, or her vulnerability when it comes to falling madly in love; whatever the case may be, this song connects with all ages, races, eras and genders masterfully.
Ella Mai is as down to earth as it gets on ‘Naked’.
“Naked” is a personal favorite of mines. I love how calmly Ella Mai lays down her lyrics on it, as she discusses the type of things a man needs to do to really understand her mental. Her vocals are raw, her lyrics are deep, and her character shines bright.
This is definitely a song that I thought should’ve had it’s breaking out party months ago.
“Trip” is one of the many timeless sounding tracks on this album. On it, Ella talks about sipping and losing her mind over
me this unbelievable dude through some mellow and exuberant vocals. I enjoy the calming nature of the instrumental she sings over, and personally love how open she is when it comes to her feelings; from her lustful vocals to her thirsty lyrics.
This is one of my favorite songs of all time.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. EMOTION (N/A)
2. GOOD BAD (5/5)
3. DANGEROUS (4.5/5)
4. SAUCE (5/5)
5. WHATCHAMACALLIT (4/5)
6. CHEAP SHOT (4/5)
7. SHOT CLOCK (5/5)
8. BOO’D UP (5/5)
9. EVERYTHING (4.5/5)
10. OWN IT (4/5)
11. RUN MY MOUTH (4/5)
12. GUT FEELING (4.5/5)
13. TRIP (5/5)
14. CLOSE (4/5)
15. EASY (4/5)
16. NAKED (5/5)
I’ve been a major fan of Ella Mai since I first found out about her on DJ Mustard’s “Cold Summer” album. I thought the song she was featured on (“10,000 Summers”) was one of the best (If not the best) on that album, and her star-power was way too obvious to pass up at the time. Two years later, she’s finally gotten a chance to release her debut album, and much to my surprise, she shows off this level of versatility that I wasn’t even aware she was capable of showing.
Ella Mai has its raunchy, vulnerable and romantic moments. The best thing about each one is that they are met with nothing but authentic/honest vibes. Everything from Ella’s daring vocals to her youthful lyrical content felt natural to me, almost like she translated her personal diary entries into verses and hooks. Listeners will truly enjoy the journey she takes you on throughout this project, even giving you your own flashbacks to your prior relationships and views on love from the past.
Unfortunately, the sentiments I share on my second paragraph is one of the reasons I can see people disliking this album. The subject matters on Ella Mai is about different types of love such as crazy, drunk and blind. Some will view the steady subject-matter as imperative, and others will view it as monotonous. I’ve always felt like R&B albums should feature consistent topics, so I have no problem with her approach.
When it comes to the musicality of this album, I was beyond impressed. I felt like the melodies Ella Mai was able to deliver were beyond infectious, her ability to raise her vocal levels continuously matched the urgency of her lyrical content, and the instrumentals she chose to sing over consistently matched the temperament she needs to truly have her style poke out. I’m not sure how much involvement she had in the nooks and crannies of this project, but if I were to guess, it was a good amount.
Ella Mai (The album) confirms what I believed in the first place: Ella Mai is a special R&B talent.