On October 27th, Majid Jordan released their second album titled The Space Between. Based in Toronto, Canada, they are an R&B group made up of Majid Al-Maskati and Jordan Ullman, who both met each other at university and formed in 2012. Between the duo, Majid is behind the vocals whilst Jordan takes care of the production. Signed under OVO Records, which was co-founded by Drake and producers Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib. Alongside a roster of artists such as PartyNextDoor and dvsn, the duo came to prominence through their feature on Drake’s single Hold On We’re Going Home; the track went platinum in the UK and sold three million copies in America. During the release of this feature, Majid Jordan were working on their own EP which came out shortly after in August 2013 called afterhours. Originally meant as an experimental body of work, tracks such as ‘Hold Tight’ (originally sampled from ‘Hold Tight’ by Change) gained exposure after their signing to OVO records; the pair have carved a distinct disco and R&B flair to their work which could be heard throughout their releases to date. But has this flair dampened in The Space Between?
It hasn’t necessarily dampened, but it seems as if they’ve slightly altered course and have taken temporary leave from the dancefloor to a night drive. The Space Between delivers a throwback R&B vibe, the kind I grew up listening to, and it’s refreshing that more emphasis has been put on vocals rather than the familiar disco beats that fans have been used to hearing from them.
Before the release of the full album, Majid Jordan released features with fellow label artists, namely ‘The One I Want’ featuring PartyNextDoor, and ‘My Imagination’ featuring dvsn. Both tracks felt overshadowed by the featuring artists’ musical sensibilities. They also released their solo tracks ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Phases’. What seemed missing from these four tracks was the perfect mixture between their impressive vocals, experimental style and their familiar catchy dance/disco beats; all three of these features have been important in carving their distinct sound, but some were lacking or missing in these songs. For example, ‘The One I Want’ managed to capture their soulful vocals but lacked a substantial beat behind it. ‘Body Talk’ introduced dancehall-like beats previously unheard of from Majid Jordan and demonstrated their experimental capabilities working successfully, but lacked the vocal beauty native to their music. The latter two also questioned their distinct disco flair and the vocals didn’t have the same soul as anything they had previously put out. It felt as if they were trying to push sounds that were more easy on the ears, consequentially coming across as generic. It may have been a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth (and in this case, they were some really good cooks, too), but nothing definitive could be said before the release of the full album.
Thankfully, these first impressions were proven wrong. Any impression of genericness that was made in the initial four tracks released is seen off with more contemplative tracks, which have merged with Majid’s soulful vocals and Jordan’s experimental mixing. The rest of the album restores some sense of familiarity of Majid Jordan’s funk and disco beats with a Billie Jean slow jam spin-off as found in ‘Gave Your Love Away’. Tracks such as ‘OG Heartthrob’ also gave their vocals justice – the kind that had perhaps been absent from the four tracks they released before the official album dropped. Again, their experimental streak was found in ‘You’, beginning with an acapella intro and constantly changing beats throughout the track, demonstrating that Majid Jordan aren’t a one trick pony kind of group. Having given it a fair few listens, it gets better and better as you start noticing little details (a personal favourite being the seemless transition from ‘Gave Your Love Away’ to ‘OG Heartthrob’.)
Understandably, they’ve had to take a more structured approach to their music since they’ve been signed, probably because the basement-based spontaneity found in their first EP may have been difficult to replicate. The good news is that remnants of their spontaneity is well and living in The Space Between and on the whole, the album is testament to them taking ownership of their own sound; there has been a solid attempt of fusing their familiar funky beats with heartfelt vocals whilst trying to maintain the spontaneity they began their careers with. Full credit to them, as it can’t be easy trying to juggle the three.
The pair are taking The Space Between on a world tour, and are expected to hit the UK and Europe in March, starting with Glasgow on March 2nd.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.