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Take a trip back to the old school 90’s with Ella Mai’s debut album By serena Ye '20

Photo credit from The Rolling Stone

In a decade where mainstream music has become dominated by repetitive and predictable with empty lyrics and weak bass drops, it’s rare to find a classic, slow, rhythm and blues album.

But British singer and songwriter, Ella Mai, seems to be signaling a new wave of change in the music industry. This past April, Mai entered the music scene with a bang with her breakthrough song “Boo’d Up.” Complete with a music video bringing bright, flashy neon signs lighting up the arcade, an intoxicatingly smooth beat and simple yet sentimental lyrics, this retro song was an immediate hit with 90’s lovers.

In an interview with The Fader, Mai explains why she thinks the song received such an immense response.

“It has quite a nostalgic feel to it, and it’s about love as well,” Mai said. “It’s a clean song, there’s no cursing, it’s super innocent, and everyone’s been through that puppy-love sort of thing.”

Following the success of her single over the summer, the hype was overwhelming for Mai’s new album. On Oct. 12, Ella Mai released her self-titled debut album “Ella Mai,” which includes 16 songs featuring renowned RnB artists Chris Brown, John Legend and H.E.R. (Gabi Wilson). And she does not disappoint. Mai weaves in her romantic way of storytelling and poetry with her signature magical old school beat to create an album that could not be a better way to introduce Ella Mai to the world.

The album begins with “Emotion,” which is not exactly a song, but rather a literal definition of what emotion means. I found this a very interesting way to introduce the album; it’s not just as a compilation of songs, but a story that she brings us along. Mai ends the song by describing this feeling as “a rollercoaster.” Short, sweet and simple.

One of my favorite songs on the album is titled “Everything”, featuring R&B powerhouse John Legend. The swooning, sultry voice of Mai is combined in harmony with the clean and soulful voice of John Legend. The beat is subtle, like water drops that pitter patter throughout the whole song, giving it a quirky, upbeat vibe. In the song, both Mai and Legend sing in the chorus, “My pain and my struggle, my friend and my lover//I put that on everything//Feels like a forever thing.” These optimistic and appreciative lyrics of Mai to her partner makes this three minute song something to listen to when you just want to kick back and relax.

Photo credit from Ticket Web

In “Good Bad”, Mai takes a sharp turn to a bass-heavy, more hip-hop oriented song. In this song, she reveals a different side of her- a side that’s got some more sass and spice. She starts off by singing, “So what if I wake up with a attitude?//You assumin' that I must be mad at you//Didn't get no sleep with you last night.” Mai also presents her vocal range, going from the deep, low pre-chorus, to high riffs in the chorus.

Mai ends the album with on a peaceful note with the song, “Naked”. Contrary to the hefty use of a classic synth beat and piano instrumental throughout the whole album, Mai achieves the serene tone of the song by using the soft stringing of an acoustic guitar. Behind her velvety, deep voice, Mai pours out her worries and vulnerabilities in revealing her true self; she speaks her feelings into the lyrics and her way of singing.

She sings, “I want that perfect love, am I askin' too much?//Someone who shoots for the stars.” With simple harmonies and subtle violin echoes in the background, this song is a perfect closure to what is bound to be a classic R&B album.

Photo credit from Hot New Hip Hop

In an interview with Forbes, Ella Mai explains, “I hope that the album makes my audience feel,” she says. From loud and confident mood boosters like “Trip”, to soft and slow ballads like “Easy”, Mai’s debut album shows that she can lead the comeback to oldie-but-goodie, classic R&B music. “Ella Mai” is truly a versatile, emotion-packed album that made me feel as if I had been whisked away back to the 90’s, playing the album on my little MP3.

Rating: 8.5/10

Photo credit from The Source
Created By
Serena Ye
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