Majid Jordan have become unstuck in time. The duo—comprised of singer Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman—have been making anachronistic music from the beginning; early in their career, the dial on their ever-mutating fusion of pop, R&B, alternative and easy listening often landed somewhere between 80s New Wave and R&B. Album number four—Good People, which dropped last Friday—is the latest product of a decade-long friendship. They’ve known each other since 2012, and have been making studio albums together since 2016; a decade-plus of being in lockstep and in their own creative bubble, has made time fold in on itself. And now they’ve found themselves back where they started.
Good People is a reference to the duo’s original moniker, which they dreamed up when they were still just Toronto college students sharing and making music with each other. And the music is more reminiscent of the early stages free EP they released under that name (which you can still find floating around the internet) than the funky throwback tracks that took them to stardom. The vibes are less Don Johnson/Miami Vice, more like a warm bath at the end of an already relaxing day, or driving down the PCH at dusk. Majid’s soft croons and lilting falsetto have never sounded more ethereal; Jordan’s beats never more soothing. A sunset graces the album cover, a track titled “Sunset” closes the album, Al Maskati says they kept a picture of a sunset in the studio when they recorded in their decidedly not often warm and sunny hometown—you get the idea.
Was a full circle reset the intention when they set out to make the album? Al Maskati is hesitant to ascribe intention to anything they create. “It’s just—we’ve been making music for 10 years now. And it still feels like it’s just the beginning. I think our generation has so much pressure to find solutions, get results, discover, execute. And it plays with our perception of time,” he muses, sitting in front of a large impressionistic painting on our Zoom call, searching for the words to explain the work his and Ullman’s symbiosis yields. “I think 10 years between those two projects and them sounding similar shows that time is so much deeper than what we perceive it as. So, it feels like a full circle moment maybe because it’s the same moment. We’re just living it and thinking it’s two different moments. Who knows?”
But where After Hours lived up to its name with late-night laidback songs, there’s an inherent maturity to the sound and lyrics of Good People that makes it clear these two moments aren’t quite the same. In conversation, Al Maskati and Ullman are even more disarmingly Zen than the music they’ve put forth; there’s an air of contentment and ease. They’ve won already. From getting that EP to the ever-searching ears of Drake’s creative right hand 40, to helping the 6ix God craft one of his first true-blue pop hits in “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and subsequently landing a label deal with him, to building up a sturdy, loyal fanbase. (“Hold On” is the mainstream smash single, but people of distinguished taste—including Tyler, The Creator and Drake himself—count “Feel No Ways,” the summery Views album cut that Majid co-wrote and Jordan produced, among one of Drizzy’s best songs ever.) The hard part is over. They even got an elusive Diddy feature on their last project. Now they’ve arrived at the crucial inflection point for an artist: the moment where that solid footing becomes capital to either be complacent or start freely experimenting.
Their first two albums were like “Hold On” on steroids, or more true to the era of the sonic reference points, pure uncut powder. (There has not been a pop song in the past few years quite as effortless jiggy as their vastly underrated 2017 cut “Gave Your Love Away.”) Then 2021’s Wildest Dreams offered a slight departure, throwing in more dance-tinged songs and even an acoustic ballad. “We’re 10 years into making music. We’ve had our success. We’ve built our core following. We have the freedom to do what we want. What are we going to do with that power?,” Al Maskati recalls pondering. “Are we going to manipulate it?”