16 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“Boo’d Up” had been in the world for more than a year before it became an out-of-the-blue smash, and no one was more taken aback than the person who made it. But Ella Mai didn't rush into a studio to capitalize on the success by immediately coughing up an album—the British singer and DJ Mustard protégé had already been at work on her full-length debut for a year. “When ‘Boo’d Up’ really did start to take off, we already were prepared, because I already had stuff in the vault ready to go,” she told Beats 1 host Julie Adenuga. “I didn’t feel like I had to just put something together or be like, ‘Aw, this might not be good, but we need to put it out.’ And I never wanna feel like that.” Indeed, Mai arrives fully formed, as at ease with the upbeat (“Dangerous”) as she is with slow and sultry (“Run My Mouth”), and holding her own with both fellow up-and-comer H.E.R. on “Gut Feeling” and R&B royalty John Legend on “Everything.” And she makes stepping into pop stardom look effortless. “Luckily,” she told Beats 1, “everything's gone to plan so far.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“Boo’d Up” had been in the world for more than a year before it became an out-of-the-blue smash, and no one was more taken aback than the person who made it. But Ella Mai didn't rush into a studio to capitalize on the success by immediately coughing up an album—the British singer and DJ Mustard protégé had already been at work on her full-length debut for a year. “When ‘Boo’d Up’ really did start to take off, we already were prepared, because I already had stuff in the vault ready to go,” she told Beats 1 host Julie Adenuga. “I didn’t feel like I had to just put something together or be like, ‘Aw, this might not be good, but we need to put it out.’ And I never wanna feel like that.” Indeed, Mai arrives fully formed, as at ease with the upbeat (“Dangerous”) as she is with slow and sultry (“Run My Mouth”), and holding her own with both fellow up-and-comer H.E.R. on “Gut Feeling” and R&B royalty John Legend on “Everything.” And she makes stepping into pop stardom look effortless. “Luckily,” she told Beats 1, “everything's gone to plan so far.”

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About Ella Mai

U.K. native Ella Mai, an R&B singer and songwriter with a casually commanding voice, wasn't exactly an unknown artist before DJ Mustard signed her to his 10 Summers label. Originally raised in southwest London, Mai moved to New York at the age of 12, then returned to England after she graduated from high school. In 2014, during her second stint in the U.K., she competed on The X Factor as part of a trio, Arize, that didn't advance beyond the initial audition for the judges. The group broke up shortly thereafter. The following year, Ella Mai uploaded a four-track solo EP of originals to SoundCloud, but it was through her short clips of covers on Instagram that DJ Mustard found her. In January 2016, the producer announced that he had signed her, and the following month, she released Time, a poised EP of sleek, contemporary R&B. Featuring the Ty Dolla $ign collaboration "She Don't," the six-track release introduced an artist who could sing of fierce loyalty and ruthless spite in an incisive manner. Mai quickly followed up with two more EPs beginning with Change, followed in early 2017 by Ready, which completed the DJ Mustard-produced trilogy. Ready highlight "Boo'd Up" cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2018. ~ Andy Kellman

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