Swag Snap of the Week: Ella Mai

R&B star Ella Mai with Radio One St. Louis sales manager Christina Bailey before the soldout St. Louis stop of Mai’s The Debut tour Sunday night at The Pageant.

The R&B Brits have arrived. So, sixty something years later, the R&B folks can finally understand how Elvis and ‘nem felt when The Beatles and The Rolling Stones hopped on the scene and shut the music industry down, thanks to Ella Mai. I’m gonna be honest. I thought the “Boo’d Up” song was cute or whatever, but I didn’t really feel one way or the other about her despite how folks kept going on and on. Mainly because my favorite R&B Brit, Lianne LaHavas is still under the radar on radio and mainstream American music. That all changed after Sunday night at The Pageant though. Miss Mai came to slay for her sold-out debut tour. And the show was life even before she took the stage, thanks to show opener Mahalia. Her little quirky R&B self made me feel really good about the variety that’s happening in R&B – particularly internationally. When Ella Mai came out, I had already assumed that Mahalia showed her up. Mainly because I don’t get too heavy into stuff once everybody gets into it and her music seemed too cute and catchy for me to connect with. But when I tell you, that she gave me my whole life. Her outfit was serving Missy Elliott “I Can’t Stand The Rain” realness – and Ella quietly gives me Irene Cara 2.0 with her looks. It was a cute combination. She sounded great live. And I went back and caught life from the grown folks subject matter that she was going through on that album. In hindsight, I hate that “Boo’d Up” was my introduction her. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the song. It’s just that I learned way later than I should have that there is more to her than catchy, cutesy little pop tunes. I would have given her a second listen had anything else – especially her EP – had come on my radar before her radio hit.

A Shout out delayed for Cedric Cobb. I need fix a serious oversight from last week’s Partyline. I guess its more of a run-down delay than an error. I was so busy trying to get things off that I clipped my entry about Cedric Cobb’s “Shark Tank” watch party at City Hall Sunday before last. Not only did Cedric close a deal with a shark on the show, he had a down right regal event that felt more like a cross between a civic ceremony and a prom than a watch party. I’m used to watch parties being in clubs and on people’s couches. Cedric had City Hall on lock with a full-fledged program. I don’t know why I expected him to do anything casual. He is the founder of the Best Pocket Square Holder – and stays suited up. I wouldn’t be surprised if I caught him bench pressing in a business suit. What? That is not a diss. Anyway, back to the party. He had some big names – local and national – on hand to help him celebrate. NFL great Ray Lewis, model and television personality Tai Beauchamp were both in the building, and KSDK’s own Rene Knott served as master of ceremonies. I ran into a whole bunch of my folks – Tef Poe, DJ AJ, Monica Tyson, Cheryl D.S. Walker and others who I’m sure are salty right now because they didn’t get a mention. And did I tell y’all that everybody up in there was dressed to the nines?

Derby day partied down. Speaking of dressed to the nines, Saturday afternoon I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone that prevented me from knowing how live the Kentucky Derby parties are until 2019. I got out there Saturday afternoon and two sets of Alphas were holding it down in the name of the Derby. My first stop was the Kentucky Day Party with the Arch City Alphas at Barnett’s on Washington. Now you know your party is popping if it spills into a whole other venue – and fills that up too! The ice cold brothers had it lit on the inside of Barnett’s, on the patio and they eased on over to the Bronson House and packed that out too. I’m going to be fully transparent and tell y’all that in all of my years of beating these streets day and night, I don’t believe I’ve ever been to a Kentucky Derby party. And Saturday I went to two in two hours that were crackin’.

I had no idea that y’all get all the way in it with the highbrow fashion, big hats and mint juleps. One guest didn’t even let a recent health issue stop his fresh. He was up in there with the brim, the blazer and a taped on surgical mask. And I’m not mad. Listen: there were some women at the Arch City Party who had to go straight through the back to the patio because their hats barely fit through the door. They even had a hat parade, y’all. Yes, a hat parade. I got a chance to make my first reconnection with Isis Jones since she rejoined Radio One St. Louis. She was there – and like every single soul up in there was looking as cute as can be.

Derby partying like a champion. I wasn’t done getting my Derby on with the Alphas when I left midtown. I had to get my second wind together for my next lap of derby partyin’ with the Champion City Alphas on the deck of Ballpark Village’s Brew House for their Cigars, Big Hats and Cool Cats Derby Party. They had a live band and the Usual Suspects (it’s the band’s name, not the Alphas I see on the regular) were tearing it up. I saw some folks had beat me over from Barnett’s to get a second round of that Alpha Kentucky Derby Life. Dameon Christian had the Derby hat game sewed up for this particular set. It was the biggest of them all. But honestly, when does he not deliver straight-up slayage as far as his hats go? I just hope to never sit behind him at a concert because the whole row will be obstructed.

A week away from May Day. For those of you who don’t know, I’m reminding y’all that NEXT Sunday a black St. Louis tradition will be taking place. The 109th Annual Annie Malone Children and Family Services May Day Parade is happening on Sunday, May 19. Am I the only one who gets my May day parade dates either a week ahead or a week behind? I had my pompoms and white boots ready to high kick down Market this weekend – and I would have been by my doggone self! And you’ll be thrilled to know that they’ve added festivities for the whole weekend that start on May 17. Visit https://www.anniemalone.com/parade for all the details.

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