Maintaining longevity in an industry that shrinks further into its ability to pay attention is a feat in itself, and Majid Jordan have earned their decade-long reign.
This can be objectively attested by their unwavering talent, but more importantly, their devotion to truth. Singer Majid Al-Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman aren’t interested in playing to what’s sonically safe, nor weaponizing nostalgia, but rather, honoring an incessant need to shapeshift. In conversation with the duo, Al-Maskati speaks to the illusion of rigidity, and the liberation of malleability. “Nothing stays the same, it’s not supposed to. You wouldn’t look at a person in front of you and expect them to always be the way that they are. Even Jordan and I’s relationship— we say we’ll always be laughing and joking, but then something happens and we just need someone to lean on. Things are always changing.”
Observing even the microfibers of life and employing presence as a key instrument, it’s undeniable how open-hearted and married to their mission they are. Renting out studios from LA to Toronto to Bahrain, ‘Good People’ is an album informed by the life lived in the moments in between, the dimly lit dinners and soul-mirroring conversations that are both fleeting and defining.
“I’m just so full of love right now,” Ullman declares. There’s an immense sense of appreciation they have for the work they do, the community they’ve built thus far, and the impact their art makes. Not having dropped a project since 2021’s ‘Wildest Dreams’, ‘Good People’ is a warmly welcomed return, a nine-track album that explores the soft edges of neo-soul, R&B, and alternative.
Evolution can be jarring for the unfit, and the curse to Majid Jordan’s longevity is cultivating an audience that may choose not to lean into change, chaining themselves to an expired sound. When asked if they ever feel confined by other people’s addiction to nostalgia, the pair had this to say:
“When people ask for the new music to sound like old music, I think what they’re actually chasing is themselves. They’re chasing the way an old version of them felt at the time, and they’re making it about the music when it’s really about the conversations they used to have or the way they used to feel,” Ullman reflects. Al-Maskati concludes, “It’s a projection.”
‘Good People’ is a testament to where the Canadian alt-R&B duo reside emotionally and sonically today. It’s home-cooked, a surrender to every shade of love. There’s nothing formulaic about the project, no cowering to an industry frightened by risk. “We were questioning if we should make seven-minute songs or just stick to 3 minutes and be palatable,” Ullman shares, as Al-Maskati adds: “Or if people would complain about the album only being nine tracks. Is quantity how we measure quality now?” But there was a story to be told, and having built an empire from a dorm room, they’re clear on trusting their inner guidance.
“Home is something that’s within. It’s something you carry, if you wait long enough for it to reveal itself,” shares Al-Maskati. Though they are nomadic artists, kissing their footprints in every corner of the world, much of this project was birthed in Al-Maskati’s motherland, Bahrain. Ullman spoke to the experience, sharing “It was the first time we ever worked or recorded in Bahrain. We stayed in Majid’s family home for like a month and it was just beautiful, a long time coming.” When asked if there was any discomfort in being a new version of yourself in an old ecosystem, Al-Maskati reflected, “The only discomfort came from societal expectation. Life in Bahrain is a very specific kind of way so there are people looking at you and expecting you to be a specific kind of something. All I could do was remain grounded in my routine and in my sense of why.”
One of the project’s lead singles ‘Waiting For You’, featuring angelic vocals from fellow OVO label-mate Naomi Sharon, sounds reminiscent of a Sade or early George Michael track, which the duo finds no surprise in. “Even if you create something for the first time, the inspiration still comes from somewhere,” says Ullman.
“We grew up listening to those exact artists. It’s funny because we’re constantly scrolling and ingesting stuff from our feeds and it stores in our minds, so it’s so easy for something to remind us of something. We’re all taking different paths to hear the same thing, it’s just a matter of whatever gets you there,” adds Al-Maskati.
Just as much as they’ve derived inspiration from the artists that preceded them, they’ve taken from the artists that follow, as well. “I don’t want to say any names out of fear of leaving anyone out, but truthfully, any artist out there that’s making music from a place of love, we’re inspired by,” shares Al-Maskati. “There’s a limited impact we can make as an artist, and what they’re doing is so important. They give us permission to do the same.”
‘GOOD PEOPLE’ is an offering, a response to a world riddled with conflict and paralyzed by disconnection. “This album is for our people. It’s for community.”
‘GOOD PEOPLE’ is out now.
Words: Jazmin Kylene