Sometimes late night talk shows can serve to introduce audiences to worthwhile new music. Earlier this week r&b singer Ella Mai appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” it felt as if something new was indeed happening in music.
Ella Mai’s style on “Trip”
Even if audiences were not impressed with the rest of Fallon’s show, there was no mistaking that a nice beat, almost reminiscent of 1990s r&b was emanating from the television show.
Ella Mai even dressed the part of a cool, modern girl in love. In white oversized shirt and loose-fitting pants, she was less a throwback and more evidence of what the past had taught a new generation. Born in 1994, Ella Mai was an infant during the heyday of performers like MoKenStef, Monifah, Xscape and others that informed the genre. Yet, there she was in 2018 performing her version of what all those groups and then some had brought to the world of popular music.
“Cool girl in love” seems to be the style vein that Ella Mai feels most comfortable in. Her words are controlled but persistent. When she repeats that her beloved’s “love got me trippin'” audiences believe her. Her delivery style is a bit of Erykah Badu, with a touch of Aaliyah, while remaining wholly original.
The lyrics too, convey the tough girl persona. Gun imagery helps Ella Mai relay a depth of emotion. “Got my feelings on safety” she sings right before indicating she doesn’t want to lose control of her emotions. This is not a person who wants to go crazy on the one she loves. If love could be calm and rational, she wants to make it that way. However, the repetition gives her away. Also– why the struggle for control if everything’s cool?
Ella Mai seems every bit a modern young woman. “Trip” is backed by smooth drumming and electronic beats. While people might not jump and dance to it, they will certainly nod their heads and sway to the catchy beat.