ELLA MAI


“The UK really failed… We had QUALITY R&B artists that we’re slept on!”

It’s easy to dismiss comments and threads, seeing them as nothing more than simple conversations amongst friends. But the resurgence of this topic for what feels like the umpteenth time sparks the question as to whether there could be any truth in between the tweets.

The latest instalment of the debate was sparked by Ella Mai single ‘Boo’d up’ peaking at number 5 on the Billboard hot 100 and going double platinum across the pond in the US.

The singer has become the first UK star to top the US R&B singles charts since 1992.

It’s almost impossible to deny Ella Mai’s overwhelming level of success and in the height of it one can’t help but wonder whether the British singer would be able to replicate such a result on home soil.

Is it time to admit that perhaps R&B just isn’t palatable to a mass UK audience?

It certainly is not a case of a lack of talent, so what part of the equation have the UK labels continued to miss.

Remember Floetry? The British R&B duo skyrocketed to stardom after taking a risk and moving to the states.

Similarly for Taio Cruz, despite notable popularity among a UK audience, he was only able to to transcend into the realms of platinum success overseas.

The general consensus seems to be that label’s in the UK simply do not know how to market artists from that soulful, riff decorated harmony infused school of R&B and as a result have failed them time and time again.

You only need to look through the SBTV A64s to find a plethora of artists with the potential to do great things that slipped right through our fingers. McLean, Talay Riley, Charlie Brown, Ms D, Cleo Sol and the list could go on.

Not only were many of these artist vocally talented but a huge proportion of them were also incredible songwriters and went on write music for many of the favourites of pop culture.

Growing up south of the river in an era where R&B on urban Music Channels was commonplace and everybody’s favourite rapper had an R&B vocalist on their song, it is somewhat perplexing that over 10 years later the urban music scene in the UK is still struggling to house these very same artists.

Many have been compelled to take their talents elsewhere in effort to forge a more lucrative career path for themselves and with seemingly good reason.

How long can this cycle be perpetuated?

It appears that with the reemergence of the genre in the mainstream there may be a chance to right this wrong.

With movements like R&Brit, and the new wave of artists coming in, perhaps there is an opportunity to do things differently; but how?

That is the million dollar question. With just three months left of the year to come up with a full proof plan, here’s to hoping that 2019 will finally be the year the UK gets behind its homegrown talent.

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