Lindsey Reynolds | Reporter
Rhythm and blues rookie and 2018 alumnus Ejay Mallard released his new single “High Hopes” on Good Friday, foreshadowing the release of his upcoming album, “Traumatized.” His release date reached the ears of underground music lovers not only around campus, but around the country as well.
The single, publicized heavily on Mallard’s Twitter page, received praise from listeners. Many tweeted the song’s chorus lyrics, and praise such as “the man has done it again,” “if you’re not listening to this then what are you doing?,” and “No hype, everyone on the timeline needs to listen to this right now!”
His other singles, “Drake and Drive.,” “Rose Petal Picking.” and “I Still Pray for You.” have gained over a quarter of a million streams on Apple Music, Spotify, and Soundcloud.
Dallas senior Emeka Nzeakor is a producer, audio engineer and DJ. Nzeakor collaborated with Mallard on the new album and spoke on how different the themes and sounds compare to his previous album, “Waco.,” released in 2018.
“I think that compared to his previous music, this is the most real side of him and the story he’s gone through,” Nzeakor said. “It’s going to cover some sounds and some parts of the world that many listeners are not going to be used to, but at the same time, it will stay true to the R&B format.”
In addition to the gospel and soul undertones, Mallard and Nzeakor incorporated African rhythms and beats, common in rhythm and blues genre but not often an explicit sound in the genre today.
When asked about the inspiration of his new album, Mallard spoke about how the songs narrate his struggles during college, coping with anxiety and the struggle of being explicitly vulnerable while still holding to his Christian beliefs.
“This is just a recap of my life in college that shaped me into who I am. In comparison to previous songs and albums, this album is definitely more honest and open,” Mallard said. “I’m hoping this album will propel my career to a higher level.”
A former worship leader at Highland Baptist Church, Mallard said he struggled with the decision to include explicit language in his songs. After much consideration, he decided to take a chance on writing lyrics that showcased the candid emotions he was feeling during the darkest times of his life.
“I wanted to keep it as raw and rugged and as edgy as it was,” Mallard said. “It wasn’t poetic when it happened. It wasn’t a lullaby. When it happened it was cursing, screaming and arguing. I wanted each song to capture the commotion.”
Mallard said writing music in an honest manner became a coping mechanism for his anxiety and being able to be honest with himself and his audience gives him artistic freedom that he believes will resonate with listeners.
“I’ve always used music as a coping mechanism. So when I write and record these songs, I’m not doing it for family or friends, or any extraneous fans. I’m doing it for me,” Mallard said.
Following his graduation, Mallard was finally able to focus exclusively on his music and the direction of his career. This time of reflection refocused him, and allowed him to hone his individual style and sound.
“I think Ejay had a lot of time to think about his music in general, which is something I think he’s needed for a while,” Nzeakor said. “I think people are really in for a treat as far as the variety they are going to hear, and the fact that Baylor students aren’t making music in that style.”
Mallard’s manager, Reggie Singletary, described the album’s marketing plan and newly released music video for “High Hopes” as a manifestation of the artist’s focus and creativity.
“I love how he’s been focusing on building his foundation of support in Waco. That can only drive him to further, more expansive success,” Singletary said. “This year will be huge for him, and his music will be the soundtrack for broken hearts and sad nights.”
The album “Traumatized” is predicted to be released early this fall. Until then, his music can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music by searching Ejay Mallard. Official release dates will be posted via his Instagram and Twitter @ejaymallard.