Ella Mai is a Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter from London, England. Not too long ago, she released a deliciously impressive self-titled debut studio album, which uses her name as an acronym to communicate its message.
The 16-track project is a superb work of art and we enjoyed listening to each song from beginning to end. Mai’s ear-welcoming vocals set a gorgeous tone that projects an appealing and relatable narrative focused on the upside and downside of romantic relationships.
Ella Mai – “Emotion”
E: Emotion = a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. A rollercoaster.
Ella Mai, the main character, reveals to listeners that this project is going to be a romantic drama based on her emotions derived from her previous relationship experiences. This lets us know that the tales told within this project are based on or inspired by true stories from a young woman’s perspective.
“Who doesn’t love it good bad?”
“So what if I wake up with an attitude? You assuming that I must be mad at you. Didn’t get no sleep with you last night. Know it hurts when I swerve, but I had to.” – lyrics
‘Good Bad’ tells a heartfelt tale of a moody young woman who is involved in a rocky relationship with her boyfriend. One day, she has a pleasant personality, and another, an attitude. If she was single, her behavior might go unnoticed, but the thing is she isn’t single.
Early one morning, her boyfriend assumes that she is upset at him because she wakes up with a bad attitude. But she disagrees and blames her bad mood on not getting enough sleep because they were up all night doing things that couples do.
The guy gets into his feelings and wants to leave because he doesn’t want to continue fighting with her. But the woman isn’t worried about his departure because, for one, her attitude is what he is attracted to, and two, her loving is so good that he would be a fool to walk away from it.
At this point, she has his attention, and that’s when he realizes what’s a little bad behavior when he has so much good to look forward to.
‘Good Bad’ contains a relatable storyline, ear-welcoming vocals, and tuneful melodies. Also, the likable tune possesses groovy instrumentation scented with a contemporary R&B aroma.
“It’s dangerous for me to put my all in us”
“I’m the type to play safe. Always hard to make decisions, but you break me out. I ain’t never been taste but I bet my flavor’s kinda different since you came around.” – lyrics
‘Dangerous’ tells a captivating tale of a desirable young woman who doesn’t trust anyone except her boyfriend who she is head-over-heels in love with. But putting all of her love into one person is a risky business because, in the end, it might not yield the result she desires.
She knows that being in love is dangerous and she understands the risk involved. Before, she used to play it safe, but her boyfriend has her heart in his hand, and whatever he says she’s willing to do.
He loves her without makeup and calls her every single day to say how much he loves her. And that’s why she makes him breakfast in bed and disregards the dangers of falling in deeply in love with him.
‘Dangerous’ contains a romantic narrative, R&B-soul vocals, and a spunky Bryan-Michael Cox-produced instrumentation oozing with a poppin’ neo-dance flavor.
Ella Mai – “Sauce”
“We ain’t even been talking for a minute yet and I already got you elevated. You don’t know if I’m a saint or a sinner yet. But you already singing Ella praises.” – lyrics
‘Sauce’ tells a wonderful tale of a straight-forward young woman who discloses that the guy who she is seeing has fallen deeply in love with her too soon. Apparently, he has bit off more than he can chew and doesn’t even know her, but still, he sings her praise. Either he’s trippin’ or addicted to her sauce.
She’s good without him and it hurts him to know that. But his weak state of mind worries her because she senses that he can’t handle the pressure of being with someone as saucy as she is. Therefore, she recommends that he strengthens his mentality or else she might dismantle his already fragile mind.
‘Sauce’ contains a relevant storyline, R&B-soul vocals, and bouncy instrumentation produced by Quintin Gulledge and DJ Mustard.
L: Lust = four letters like love, but less precious. More like electric veins running fast than frenzy my heart. Make me crave and act restless. So infectious.
“It ain’t cheating, it’s a whatchamacallit”
“I know you got a girlfriend, baby. You know that I got a man. We could wait until we’re single but it won’t be as fun then. It’s something ’bout being wrong that just feels so right. Think about it in the morning ’cause we be all night.” – lyrics
‘Whatchamacallit’ tells a stimulating tale of a young woman who is involved in a ‘secret’ relationship with a man who has a girlfriend. Apparently, she has a boyfriend at home, and once in a while, she drinks Hennessy with the other guy inside his dark bedroom.
While there, they do sexual things which will be considered cheating to their significant others. But the alcohol flowing in her body is so strong that she doesn’t even care if she’s doing wrong because the guy she’s with is taking her to levels that her boyfriend can’t take her to.
‘Whatchamacallit’ contains an exciting storyline, wonderful guest vocals by Chris Brown, and charismatic instrumentation produced by J Holt and DJ Mustard.
“Something about the pain mixed with you got me doing things I ain’t do”
“You’ve been out here tryna work on me for a minute. Fall in love for a minute. You’ve been tryna see me through the problems. But everything you’re sayin’ is the problem. You keep tryna make me slow down for a minute. When I just wanna drown for a minute. You can take advantage but you’re taking chances.” – lyrics
‘Cheap Shot’ tells an interesting tale of a young woman who drinks, smokes, and does drugs to cope with certain problems in her life. But she has a friend who cares for her, and oftentimes, he helps her to get through her problems.
One day, he catches her off-guard when she’s at her weakest point. Later, she admits that she’s glad he did because now she does things that she doesn’t normally do.
Even though he can never call her his girl, the fact that he can call me whenever he feels like drinking and stuff makes this situation a win-win situation for both parties involved.
‘Cheap Shots’ contains a relatable storyline, ear-welcoming vocals, and lush instrumentation produced by Harmony Samuels.
Ella Mai – “Shot Clock”
“24 seconds, yeah, you better not stop. You got 24 seconds, can you beat the shot clock? What you waitin’ on, lil’ daddy? I ain’t got that much time. You seem anxious, you seem adamant but you ain’t pressed my line.” – lyrics
‘Shot Clock’ tells a time-sensitive tale of an impatient young woman who has been dating a guy for five years. She thinks he’s playing games about committing to their relationship. Therefore, she gives him 24-seconds to make a crucial decision. But if he allows the shot clock to wind down to zero, then it’s a good chance that he might find her in the arms of another man.
‘Shot Clock’ contains a relatable storyline, R&B-soul vocals, and charismatic instrumentation produced by DJ Mustard.
L: Love = add “-rs” and that’s surely what we are. Flip it ’round, add “-ve” and let’s see if this goes far. Full of chuckles and cuddles and sometimes, eye puddles. Compose love like we’re Mozart.
“I’ll never get over you until I find something new”
“Feelings, so deep in my feelings. No, this ain’t really like me. Can’t control my anxiety. Feeling like I’m touching the ceiling when I’m with you. I can’t breathe, boy, you do something to me.” – lyrics
‘Boo’d Up’ tells an adoring tale of a young woman who is head-over-heels in love with a guy who she desires to be with forever.
Apparently, whenever they are together in the same room, she feels a special feeling all over her body, and her heartbeats to a different rhythm. Also, she believes that she might die without him, and she will never get over him until she finds something or someone who will get her high like the way he does. Although their relationship is over, she finds it hard getting over that special person who makes her heartbeat bounce abnormally.
The video finds Ella Mai and her man riding Go-Karts inside an amusement area with several friends. The newly-formed couple is happy and boo’d up in public.
‘Boo’d Up’ contains a relatable narrative, gorgeous soul vocals, and ear-welcoming instrumentation oozing with contemporary R&B elements. The track was produced by Larrance Dopson and DJ Mustard.
“I’d be lying if I say I never really cared how I step out the bathroom. You notice my perfume and tell me I’m perfect. Oh, you’re so deserving. Baby, you’re worth it. I could tell I’m your focus. I’m all on your mind and I know it.” – lyrics
‘Everything’ tells a sweet-smelling tale of a young woman who appreciates the fact that her boyfriend pays attention to her. Apparently, he gives her compliments throughout the day, tells her she’s perfect in every way, and showing her that he loves her makes her feel valued.
Therefore, she gives him her all because he’s her everything; her friend and her lover who knows her better than she knows herself.
‘Everything’ contains a relatable storyline, soul-pop vocals, and lovely instrumentation produced by DJ Mustard, Dayyon Alexander, and Jeff Alexander.
A: Assertive = having or showing a confident, forceful personality.
“I put the na-na in naughty. Begging for it, got you on your knees. Didn’t make it to the bedroom, we can do it there too. Whatever’s your fantasy. I’m ready and waiting ‘cause who could love like me? Nobody.” – lyrics
‘Own It’ tells an erotic tale of a young woman who has on a T-shirt and panties. Apparently, she’s ready and waiting in the living room for her boyfriend’s arrival, and there won’t be any games played when he gets there. Shortly afterward, he enters and what he sees propels him to beg on his knees for what she’s offering.
It’s safe to say, they don’t make it to their bedroom, and their sensual fantasies are realized in real-time. One thing leads to another, and dirty talks and touching happen while they turn the night into the morning.
‘Own It’ contains a sexy narrative, ear-welcoming vocals, and slow-grinding instrumentation produced by Kosine and Miykal Snoddy.
M: Mystery = to be honest, I thought you knew. Maybe I lied. Maybe I wanna come through. Who am I? Oh, you’ll find out soon. Maybe zones don’t apply. Maybe “friends” is old news.
“You got that kinda somethin’, it’s good, it makes me run my mouth”
“I tried to let you go. I came because I’m too caught up, yeah. It’s because you keep calling me. All up all over me. I get stuck inside these walls that you built.” – lyrics
‘Run My Mouth’ tells a wonderful tale of a young woman who is head-over-heels in love with a guy who she is in a romantic relationship with. She’s addicted to making love to him, and every time they make love she runs her mouth in a good way because the sex is too good.
Apparently, she never thought she could feel like how he makes her feel, and that’s why she keeps running back to him whenever he places a late-night booty call.
‘Run My Mouth’ contains a sensual storyline, charismatic vocals, and melodic-trap instrumentation produced by DJ Mustard.
“Gut Feeling” feat. H.E.R.
“Something in the walls, something in your walk looks different. Something deep inside got me wondering why I don’t understand. Why I can’t put my finger on what the f*ck is up. What’s missing? You’re distant, and I’m spinnin’.” – lyrics
‘Gut Feeling’ tells a heartfelt tale of a young woman; her intuition tells her that the guy she’s in love with is guilty of something, but she can’t put her finger on it. She searches his phone looking for clues of his infidelity but finds nothing. Later that day, while they are touching each other, she asks him to come clean if he’s doing something or not behind her back.
‘Gut Feeling’ contains a relatable storyline, charming guest vocals by H.E.R., and lovely instrumentation produced by DJ Mustard.
A: Aware = I was guarded while my guardian angel never parted ways. Just stayed and laid with me. Not nakedly, just waited patiently. For now, I am aware. And as I stare into your soul, I see it clear. Can we start again from here?
Ella Mai – “Trip”
“I put my feelings on safety. So I don’t go shootin’ where your heart be. ‘Cause you take the bullet tryna save me. Then I’m left to deal with making you bleed. And that’s a whole lotta love, ain’t tryna waste it.” – lyrics
‘Trip’ tells a fascinating tale of a young woman who acts the fool whenever she doesn’t receive love from her significant other. Oftentimes, she overreacts and gets bent out of shape all because he’s not “hittin’ it”.
She believes her addiction stems from his love being too good, and she later apologizes to him for tripping out. Shortly afterward, she reveals that she sips on something strong to control her urges.
‘Trip’ contains a relatable storyline, ear-welcoming vocals, and piano-laden instrumentation produced by Keys and DJ Mustard.
“As we dance close, come and kiss on me”
“I don’t know who’s living in my body. ‘Cause I don’t recognize a thing about it. That don’t even matter, I’m just glad I got into the party. So I can feel your music in my body ’cause you the only out of everybody who can deal with all my ways.” – lyrics
‘Close’ tells an intriguing tale of a woman who thinks about her significant other all day and night. Apparently, she’s not an easy person to get along with, but somehow, the guy’s easygoingness balances her nature whenever they are together.
Therefore, on one special night, during a social gathering, they dance close with other people around. But the crowd doesn’t matter because their eyes are fixed on each other.
‘Close’ contains a romantic storyline, charming melodies, and charismatic instrumentation produced by DJ Mustard.
I: Inner = I bring to you through words I sing. My flaws, my dreams, and all from within. I am Ella Mai.
“Love is easy so don’t you make it hard”
“I’ll fix the strings and play my part. I know the pain that’s in your heart. I’ve tread the distance, near or far. Just wanna be right where you are. I know love has been a stranger to you. Maybe I’m the one to change it for you.” – lyrics
‘Easy’ tells a wonderful tale of a young woman who wants to start a relationship with a guy who she desires to spend the rest of her life with. Apparently, he’s a little uneasy about commitment because he fears that she will break his heart.
But she reassures him that he’s safe with her, and if he lets his guard down; he will experience love beyond his wildest imagination. Therefore, she wants them to take it slow and she tells him not to worry because love is easy, not hard. Eventually, the stage is set for him to fall in love with her.
‘Easy’ contains an evergreen narrative, pleasing vocals, and ear-welcoming instrumentation produced by Lido and DJ Mustard.
“I need someone who loves me when I wake up”
“My resting b*tch face is mistaken for the mean girl. But what if I told you there’s nothing I want more in this world than somebody who loves me naked. Someone who never asks for love, but knows how to take it.” – lyrics
‘Naked’ tells an interesting tale of a moody young woman who is looking for someone who will love her unconditionally. Someone who will look past her flaws. Someone who will tell her that she’s beautiful even though she doesn’t look the part.
Apparently, there’s nothing she wants more in this world than to find this special person who’s willing to look beyond her flaws. Are you that somebody?
‘Naked’ contains a relatable storyline, wonderful soul vocals, and sexy instrumentation produced by DJ Mustard.
In this narrative breakdown, we focused on extracting the storyline from each song and piecing them together to form an overall picture of the main character (the young woman), who we believe derives from Ella Mai’s past and current experiences.
The woman is at times, confident, and other times, fragile. But her vulnerability is the reason why “Ella Mai” is a wonderful work of art with relatable songs that highlights the struggles, fears, and happiness that comes with being in a romantic relationship. We totally enjoyed listening to each song from beginning to end.
The “Ella Mai” album serves as Ella Mai’s biggest moment yet. Also, the classic project positions the London songstress at the helm of the contemporary R&B realm.