Propelling from the status of mixing tracks in your dorm room to locking down the official “featuring” cosign on Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” single isn’t the most gradual step towards instant fame. But for music duo Majid Jordan, it’s understood that timing can be everything, and it’s the journey to the top that’s most impactful. Consisting of vocalist Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman, the early origins of Majid Jordan took root in the creative hotbed of Toronto almost four years ago. Their musical partnership has since evolved into the experience of a lifetime—from being a part of Toronto’s booming music community to recording their debut full-length album, Majid Jordan, out today, with the OVO Sound family.
Al Maskati, born and raised in Bahrain, met Toronto native Ullman at a birthday party in the city over four years ago where the two quickly bonded over each other’s shared interests—vocal freestyles and experimental beats in particular. “Toronto is a very good city for networking,” Ullman explains. “So that’s what sort of led me to Maj.”
Toronto’s electronic music scene proved to be a beneficial backdrop for Ullman. As a classically trained pianist who was familiar with multiple instruments from a young age, he quickly took to DJing and experimenting with his own computer beats during his late teen years. Around this time, Al Maskati also began to explore the city’s music scene, finding a new home in the diverse and welcoming music community. “I started doing little gigs here and there and met these kids from a jazz program,” says Al Maskati. “They’re very improvisational, so I just kept listening to the music, reacting, and experimenting with them vocally.”
These two contrasting musical backgrounds proved to be sonically beneficial, with Ullman’s sweeping beats and Al Maskati’s sneaky falsetto finding perfect, well, harmony when they joined forces. “We come from two different musical worlds,” says Ullman. “It was that blend of using a computer and Maj taking improv, and us putting all of these elements of music together.”
Not long after the duo’s initial encounter, Al Maskati was scheduled to board a flight from Toronto back to Bahrain after his college graduation. With little time to spare, the pair hit the studio (aka Ullman’s dorm) to record the early tracks for what would become their first EP, 2013’s afterhours. “We wanted to do something before I went [back to Bahrain],” explains Al Maskati. “That way I would have something to take home, because I didn’t know if I was still going to be making music.”
As Al-Maskati landed back home, afterhours, released under their original moniker, Good People, was uploaded to Soundcloud and became a (literal) overnight success. So much so that less than 24 hours after it premiered, the duo’s lives changed dramatically thanks to an email from Noah “40” Shebib. In a chance of fate, Drake’s longtime producer was interested in meeting with the anonymous twosome after his first listen. Within days, Al Maskati booked his plane ticket back to Toronto to reunite with Ullman in the studio.
After their initial meeting with Drake’s OVO fam, Majid Jordan quickly found themselves in the studio with Champagne Papi, cutting 2013’s “Hold On (We’re Going Home),” which would go on to climb the charts and eliminate any chance of anonymity for then-unknown duo. It wasn’t long until hardcore Drizzy fans began to questioning who this mysterious “Majid Jordan” featured on the single were. In 2014, the duo released their next mixtape, which contained the deal breaker single “A Place Like This,” a late-night slow burner that would cement Majid Jordan’s status as more than just Drake protégés. This sudden thrust into the spotlight proved to be a unique transition for the up-and-comers. “Our first song came out and people heard our name because it was an international single with Drake. So where do you go from there?” asks Maskati. “Thematically, ‘A Place Like This’ described the place we were at in our lives.”
Even with the success of the 2014 EP, info on the duo still remained scarce, which led fans to continue to ask, “Who is Majid Jordan?” With their self-titled debut album out today, we get to join the pair on their journey and find out.
The Majid Jordan albumopens with the thudding, low hum of “Learn From Each Other,” where Al Maskati’s whispered welcome persuades the listener that it is possible to grow together, while the Drake-assisted “My Love” questions unsure intentions, revealing the uncertainties that lie within every relationship. As the album proceeds, new territory is breached as “Pacifico” beckons, where do we go? Luckily, by the near-end of our 12-track journey with Majid Jordan, the shimmering “King City” climax seems to have a cryptic answer.
“[The album] is a journey that allows the listener to move at their own pace,” Al Maskati explains. “We’re trying to bring them into a comfortable mindset where time isn’t really an issue.”
Taking a line from “Learn From Each Other,” Majid Jordan’s full-length debut makes it clear that the duo are ready to act as the well-versed travel guides on the journey through their music. “I hope people learn more about our world and our sound, and the way Jordan and I communicate through music,” says Al Maskati. “Hopefully, they get that feeling of going somewhere when they hear it, and they’re at ease when they do.”