The Canadian two-piece are back, fresh off the back of their Coachella debut – Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman release Phases, the first track since their highly acclaimed, self-entitled, first studio album – Majid Jordan.
In an industry that is so cut-throat, finding a niche is nigh-on impossible – you either sell-out to the masses, remain isolated or become criticised for emulating some other artists work. Majid Jordan surpassed that, and that’s what makes me admire them. The two Toronto University friends have come on leaps and bounds since recording their first EP, Afterhours, in Ullman’s dorms – which ultimately gained attention from Noah “40” Shebib (one of Drake’s most notable producers), prompting a deal to be struck with Drake’s co-funded record label, OVO Sound. Majid Jordan’s, albeit unusual but impeccable, hybrid of electronic beats and R&B, was capitalised by fellow Torontonian, Drake, on his 2013 studio album Nothing Was The Same – being credited as co-producers and features on ‘Just Hold On, We’re Going Home’, a track that conclusively went on to become one of Drake’s most successful singles.
July 2014 saw the release of their first official EP, A Place Like This – an effort consisting of five songs, three of which were later accompanied by music videos. Almost exactly a year on and their metaphorical Toronto big brother, Drake, premiered their first single, My Love, on his Apple Beats 1 radio show – a track he so happened to feature on. The seemingly over-produced, one-for-the-radio single was a bit, well, average – it lacked the soul and passion emitted from their aforementioned EP. Thankfully, this was not the case for the album as a whole, when later released on 5th February 2016 – it was, in fact, exceptional. It placed, respectively, in 3rd place of my favourite albums of 2016 – falling short of the masterful Blond by Frank Ocean and Grammy-nominated Malibu by Anderson .Paak.
Fast forward one year and two months, the OVO Sound duo release Phases – a gratifying follow up to an unprecedented first album. Majid recounts his experiences from 18 years old, drawing upon crucial moments in his life – one being migrating from Bahrain to Toronto for education. The first verse highlights Maskati’s velvety vocals of his hardships, pieced with an intensifying chorded piano riff – climaxing at a crescendo only to be fantastically interrupted by Ullman’s vital production. From then on, it’s all about Ullman – showcasing his dynamic abilities to partner soulful vocals with modern beats. As a fan, this is what is so important – people know the voice, of course, sincere credit to Al Maskati, but Ullman’s deliverance to this setup is imperative.
This track is certainly a continuation from what we have already been offered by Majid Jordan – and I’m thrilled with that. It is by no means revolutionary or going to break any personal records, but it certainly pageants their talent. Twitter reverberated this morning, with an anticipating buzz from their 176k followers – all whom, including myself, wait in patience for what is to come.