After an EP and a handful of singles, Majid Jordan have completed their debut, self-titled album-- does it rise up to our expectations of the OVO-signed duo?
It’s safe to say that all eyes are on Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman, better known as Majid Jordan, for one reason: Drake. After signing the R&B duo to OVO Sound, the record label he co-founded with producer Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib, Drizzy took Majid Jordan from virtual unknowns to producers of a double platinum, #1 song real quick. "Hold On We’re Going Home" went on to become one of Drake’s most successful singles, and Majid Jordan earned their spot on the top of everybody’s artists to watch list.
Almost three years later, after an EP and a handful of singles that failed to make a meaningful impact on the charts, Majid Jordan have completed their debut, self-titled album, and while it’s a good, and occasionally even a great album, it’s unmistakably a first album.
Where Majid Jordan unquestionably succeed is in creating the perfect atmosphere for their music to thrive in. Majid Jordan isn’t an album full of incongruous singles or painfully unlistenable tracks - instead it’s a cohesive collection of songs dominated by an overarching moody tone and filled with mid-tempo deep house beats, dark, danceable grooves, contemplative musings on loves that could have been, and the kind of innocent optimism that you only find in pop songs. For better or for worse, it’s the kind of album you can put on in the background and zone out to without having to be worried about losing your focus too much. Majid Jordan may be a vibey album, but unless that's your thing, chances are you'll forget about it soon after listening to it.
Still, when Majid Jordan are at their best, their music is as good as any of the current chart toppers, and occasionally their music rises up to the occasion of reflecting that. “Small Talk,” a full-blown, effervescent pop song, is the album’s biggest stand out, and one of the few songs where Majid Jordan actually seem like they’re having fun. Other successes include the moody “My Love,” where Majid Jordan once again team up with Drake to bemoan the fickle and potentially opportunistic streaks in women, and the surprisingly intimated jam "Warm," where the boys trade in the dance floor for the bedroom. It's here that singer Al Maskati offers up his strongest vocals of the album.
Interesting enough, what stands out the most is that unlike fellow label mate Drake and ‘80s Kool Aid drinker The Weeknd, Majid Jordan are good boys and they know it. In an age where being savage and unaffected is king, Majid Jordan are remarkably heartfelt and genuine. Mid-album track "Love Is Always There" sounds like the the kind of song you could see playing in the background of the movie version of your life when you and your best friend, who you somehow never noticed was super cute and totally into you, hook up for the first time. In lesser hands lyrics like "Give me your heart, give me your hand / sometimes love is all we have" could come off as embarrassingly naive, but somehow Majid Jordan manage to pull them off, and touch even the coldest hearts in the process.
It’s also worth mentioning that the album features 0 curse words, 0 derogatory remarks about women, and 0 explicit details about whatever sex is going down in the bedroom. Not to make a Canadian stereotype, but despite its implicit sensuality, Majid Jordan is unfailingly polite - and just like that tactic works for the boys when it comes to winning over women, you can't help but be charmed by men who insist that it's not your body that they want but "a heart of gold / a hand to hold / a good soul." On "Every Step Every Way" Al Maskati assures us that "I'm not like those others baby", and after twelve tracks of earnest behavior, it's impossible to resist drawing the conclusion that they’re the kind of boys for whom the adage "I’m into having sex, I ain’t into making love" couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being unapologetically soft is a part of their brand, and it's refreshing to see a relatively new group be so unafraid of not fitting in with the crowd.
Assuming the boys don’t lose their heart on the dance floor one too many times between now and the next album, it should be interesting to see how their sound evolves - here’s hoping they don’t get jaded in the process and become just like every other male R&B artist out there. Trying to find love in the dark, synthy places of the world is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.