The Female Response You’re Looking For: Ella Mai

by Chelsea Lim

“Are you even listening? I don’t have time to waste. It’s simple: It’s my way or no way” – Ella Mai, “Nobody” Ready EP

Ella Mai play too much

British singer-songwriter Ella Mai is the recent signee under DJ Mustard’s record label 10 Summers and is on her way to re-defining the R&B genre. With her raw lyrical content of self-confidence and strength, she inspires women who deal with heartbreak and painful experiences that there is a power that they can create and take away with them.  In her debut EP Time, the 21-year-old delivers a rougher edge as she blends her velvety vocals over heavy and sharp rhythms.

Songs such as “She Don’t” featuring rapper Ty Dolla $ign and “Don’t Want You” inspire her female listeners to cultivate confidence and strength to battle painful and hurtful relationships.  “Did you think I wasn’t going to find out? You must think I’m stupid,” she asks in “She Don’t,” speaking to both the unfaithful other as well as confirming to herself that she refuses to be the tolerant and understanding one in the relationship.

She embraces the fiery, prideful outlook of hurt love but acknowledges the sweet elements that she experiences with attraction and budding love she finds worthy.  In her song “10,000 hours,” she soulfully sings over a cool instrumentation about her desire for her love interest’s presence.  In her most recent EP Ready, her track “Anymore” openly discusses the deep pain of the failure of a relationship.  “I ain’t gonna fall anymore/ You won’t feel my touch anymore/ We ain’t in love anymore,” she sings, closing with her final thoughts of a past love.

Her lyrical content flies in the face of tradition as she refuses to be portray herself or other women as the rejected ones.  She even pokes fun at the way males rap about their egos in today’s R&B and hip-hop.  “All facts, all facts/ So Imma hit the club all trap, all trap/ Without you baby,” she sings.  If anything, Mai reassures her listeners that women can embrace, as well as put on the same level of, ego and pride as male rappers do.

Her music is for the weakest emotion that is successfully extracted for healing and strengthening.  Ella Mai does not sugar coat, and that bleeds into her artistic pairing of her soulful vocals over Mustard’s signature beats.  This sound is generally associated with male hip-hop and trap artists, and she thereby creates a sound that is both powerful and memorable.  It is this musical innovation that will set the framework for her future records as well as for female artists entering the male-dominated industry.

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