Ella Mai was born in 1994. Think about what R&B was being played in the 2000s. That's what she was raised on. Aretha is but she doesn't have a direct influence on the sound she grew up on. Aaliyah would be somebody she could probably name songs from. It's not common to be able to name things that came out 30 years before you were born. That's like expecting current NBA rookies to be able to name ABA players.