Majid Jordan are Dancing Downers on Self-Titled Debut Album (Review)
Majid Jordan masters the art of being weary on the dance floor with their self-titled debut album. Armed with a set of mid-tempo cuts, the producer-songwriter combo of Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman trudge through a swamp of contemplative thoughts and sadness about lost and potential loves while simultaneously bopping their heads to the tune of beats that toe between alt-R&B, dance and synths rivaling sound effects from ‘80s sci-fi thriller Tron.
The twosome’s ascent began in 2013, when they co-wrote and co-produced Drake’s Billboard Hot 100 smash “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” On it, Drake endlessly wants one’s “hot love and emotion” over a breezy synthpop throwback. Similarly, on “Shake Shake Shake,” Al Maskati—the singer of the duo— wishes for a relationship with a diamond-necklaced vixen, to “take her out for a quick two-step/ something that she ain’t seen yet/ I really wanna be her man” while bouncing to a party-ready beat, as if hiding deep-seated feelings at the bottom of a cocktail glass.
On the spacey “Pacifico,” Majid reaches the fork in his dimming relationship’s road. “Half of me is ready, half of me needs time,” he realizes before taking a walk to sort out his thoughts. “Love is Always There,” a track fit for SWV in their heyday, finds Majid asking for a woman’s heart, then her hand to show her his affection for her is boundless.
Signed to Drake’s OVO Sound label at Warner Bros, this pair's effort falls in line with the head honcho’s output by being just left of center. In this case, Majid Jordan is not standard R&B à la Chris Brown, August Alsina or Trey Songz. It’s a bit eerier, darker even yet still maintains a touch of soul that aligns it with acts like The Weeknd (another Drake-assisted star).
Majid Jordan’s best quality is its intimate feel, sounding like each song is the extension of a conversation and is to be heard by a specific set of ears. “I got things to say,” Majid begins on “Small Talk.” Crickets chirp on the track as he reveals that he’d like to patch things up with a possible ex.
The set is also a prime exhibition of revitalizing sounds of yore. The line between hearing likely inspirations and full-on theft is thin. Sure, the aforementioned genres and ’80s/‘90s era feels prominent but the album sounds current as well.
Majid’s fatigued vocals paired with the downtrodden lyrics can be more draining than intended at times. It’s tough to decipher if the delivery is intentional to fit the spirit of the music or if it’s all he can actually muster up. Time will tell if he’s capable of sounding more than tepid or lonely.
For now, however, this mix of rhythm and gloom will do. Downers aren’t so bad when there’s a good groove alongside them.