Lots of us have preconceptions about what the typical RnB diva looks like. Maybe it’s the dramatic, high maintenance girl that has a residence on VH1 reality show. Or maybe her brand is ultra sexy vixen, serving us Kelly Rowland in “Motivation”. Either way, it’s rare we come across a low key, mellow gal with positive vibes, until recently. Fortunately, Ella Mai is here to fill that void.
Mai’s not screaming her sensuality, but she’s not trying to embody the “good girl” binary which is often the alternative. She’s not desperate to be cool for the bad boy, but is simply focused on doing her. Mai doesn’t easily fit in a box, and that’s exactly what we need more of in her genre.
Mai wears comfortable clothes, regularly posts makeup free selfies on IG and lets her natural hair shine, instead of stuffing herself into a Mariah Carey fishtail dress for each appearance. Instead, she had very different aspiration to become a pro soccer player before going viral for “Boo’d Up.”
While Mai’s tracks are lovelorn, most of them don’t revolve around regrets. There’s also no overly explicit sexual innuendo or overused, trashy cliches. She explores the ways in which her needs aren’t met within her own relationships, and celebrates those who do meet those needs. Mai makes sure her fans don’t settle for fuckboys, and is bringing confidence back to the RnB scene in a bold but understated way.
Mai consciously cites self love as a message she wants convey, rather than dancing around it in her lyrics, telling Vibe Magazine “there’s no point in being heartbroken. It’s important that in the music we teach them a different message.”
Some might say that being in the music industry, especially a tough genre to make it in like RnB, is stressful. But Mai is proof that you can carve a niche out for yourself in any genre or world. Just do it with confidence and talent while staying true to yourself. Not letting any self delusions penetrate your perspective can be difficult, but Mai has proven it can be done.
Mai remains who she was before fame, and most importantly, gives hope to little girls out there that they can make it in a seemingly hopeless industry, without sacrificing their mental or physical health. The deepest message that Mai and her music conveys is the importance of nourishing your soul, inside and out.
Artists like Ciara tout the same beliefs, but with her slightly unrealistic beauty, it’s hard to empathize. Ella Mai is the ultimate every-girl with talent because she evokes that empathy and relatability, which is a real move to dismantle the fear of our young girls.
It’s replaced with a difference of posture and how they hold themselves. With a sense that their smile is more radiant than they thought. With the feeling that one day, being in the spotlight could be a possibility for them, even if they don’t look like Ciara or Ms. Rowland.