No matter where you were, or what you were doing, when Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” comes on, you remember the summer of 2018 when it became one of the most popular songs in the world. The 25-year-old’s breakout song celebrated the power of R&B music, as Mai’s addictive ode to awestruck adoration peaked at No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and went on to win Best R&B Song at the 61st Grammys. Her follow-up three-times-platinum single, “Trip,” and her eponymous studio album that has sold more than a million units, quickly positioned her as an explosive success. Her voice, combined with her ability to sing open and freely about not just love, but the issues behind difficult situations and decisions, continue to captivate millions, especially during a time where the pandemic has changed our collective understanding of love duestress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Mai’s music is needed now more than ever.
Right on time, Mai has returned with a new single that comes out on Oct 2, “Not Another Love Song,” and the announcement of her yet-to-be-titled sophomore album. “Not Another Love Song” is classic Mai— rose-scented, slick and centered around the intricacies of love in the most sensual and smoothest ways possible. She tells BET.com that the idea of the song came from a conversation that she had with “Trip” co-writer Varren Wade about announcing your feelings in a relationship as they get stronger. “I think we’ve all been in a place of trying to navigate the feeling of, ‘Am I in love? Am I not in love?,’ she says over Zoom. “If I say it too soon, will I mess things up? Or just, “do I really want to admit that I’m in love?”
Check out the full conversation with Mai below. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.