For an emerging artist, just getting your name out to the masses is a daunting task in itself. But imagine arriving through a major platform – like OVO Sound – only for fans to gawk when they discover their favorite new artist is actually a duo.
This actually happens all time for Majid Jordan as they meet new fans and admirers nearly every day of the week. With a name that sounds like it belongs to one person, its often not until they are actually face to face with folks when they realize M.J. consists of producer Jordan Ullman and vocalist Majid Maskati.
After getting a proper introduction to the world through Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Goin Home,” which they co-produced, the fellas began dropping new tunes with the co-sign from the musical geniuses behind OVO Sound.
“We’re just here to make music we feel should exist,” says Majid nonchalantly while discussing their music. Sonically, they sound like if Sade’s younger brother was raised on 90s R&B music while learning to produce for somebody as diverse as, well, Drizzy Drake.
It all started with a chance meeting at Majid’s 21st birthday in Canada. Both boys were attending the University of Toronto when Majid’s cousin introduced him to a friend of his, the still unknown producer, Jordan Ullman.
“I met [Jordan] at my 21st birthday,” remembers Majid. “I had to sneak him in the bar because he was underage [laughs].” At the party, the like-minded spirits shared small talk about their favorite music, and made loose plans to link up soon for a studio session.
However, it wasn’t until months later when they finally did connect in the stu – which turned out to be a dorm room – but that first session turned out to be the day that changed their careers forever. “It was a very, very refreshing,” explains Jordan about their insta-chemistry. “[Majid] is just this dude that who, on the spot, can kill it in one take.”
After churning out a mixtape under the moniker Good People, Majid received an email 24 hours later from one of the key architects behind Drake’s sound. A personal friend of Noah “40” Shehib passed their debut project along, and he was definitely impressed.
40’s like been our mentor this whole time,” remembers Jordan. “When we made the Good People project, we dropped 8 tracks on that mixape. And then within 24 hours, Majid got an email from 40.
“He is relentless in the pursuit of creating music that is refreshing, new and exciting,” says Majid about his admiration for the producer that discovered them. “Little did I know this was possibly the best person that could have reached out.” The singer was actually back in his home country of Bahrain when he received the email from OVO. Majid had just graduated from college, and was back home thinking about a suitable career path. On the other hand, Jordan was still at the University of Toronto when he heard the news.
It didn’t take long for the musicians to take destiny into their own hands. Not long after the initial email with 40, M.J. began cutting records and demos with the OVO family. After the success of “Hold On,” the upstart label released the group’s debut EP, A Place Like This, to much fanfare.
“They trusted us to go in an deliver records on our own,” says Jordan about their debut LP. “But the first person we usually take our music to is 40.”
“He just knows the right way to do things,” continues Jordan. “He’ll walk you through it and it’s hard not to agree with him. Regardless if it’s about business, production, music, songwriting, etc — he just knows the right way to do it.”
Video by Jason Chandler
Photos by Ian Reid.