A few months ago, I discovered a fresh-faced, British R&B singer by the name of Ella Mai, and instantly fell in love with her voice! Dubbed the “Queen of Breakup Anthems”, this 22-year-old is about to become a household name in the world of R&B, and since her signing with DJ Mustard’s label 10 Summers, she’s sure to make some big moves!
It all started back in 2014, when Mai competed for the ever-so popular talent show the X-Factor, along with two other girls. Sadly, the trio did not advance beyond the initial auditions but that didn’t stop her from doing music. Growing up, she says two of her biggest musical influences were Lauryn Hill and Chris Brown, who recently expressed his appreciation for Mai by sharing a video on his Instagram of himself listening to one of her songs. In 2015, Ella decided she needed to do something to get herself out there – and so she did! Thanks to the digital era, she uploaded a four track EP of originals to SoundCloud and a few short cover clips on her Instagram account, which caught the attention of one of the hottest and most sought after producers in music right now. Enter DJ Mustard, a producer, songwriter and DJ, who’s behind some of R&B and hip-hop’s greatest hits (you might recognize the famous tag “Mustard on the beat, hoe!” in his songs). He noticed Ella from her DIY cover videos on Instagram and since then, he’s given her soft vocals a platform to shine!
While listening to a couple of her songs, I noticed that most of them can resonate with a lot of girls, including myself. Her sleek voice and honest verses speak to us, whether it’s about a breakup, our exes who’ve cheated or just not caring anymore and moving on. In her single “She Don’t” featuring Ty Dolla $ign from her “Time” EP, she talks about what her ex is missing; the lyricism is turned into a heated argument between two lovers. But not all of her songs are about self-love and confidence; both “One Day” and “Don’t Want You” bring out Ella’s softer and more vulnerable side with the words “I tried to move on/ Forget you were so much/ Look what you’ve done/ Shame you’ve all screwed up. In her latest project “Ready”, she’s leaning towards empowering women and is done playing around with love; she’s ready to take charge in a relationship, as well as any situation that comes her way.
The sky’s the limit for this young star, and after three EPs, a fiery duet and a mega producer looking after her, Ella is also one of the opening acts for Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage tour, along with R&B crooner Jahkoy. Catch her at Rebel this Sunday June 4th, right here in Toronto.