Majid Jordan finally comes into their own on their sophomore album The Space Between, which could be the best album on OVO Sound to-date.
Being signed to OVO Sound can be a blessing and a curse. Some see it as an opportunity to be affiliated with the biggest hip-hop star in the game and others view it as nothing more than his personal hit factory. From artists like PartyNextDoor and dvsn to in-house producers like 40 and Boi-1da, the gold owl delivers a clear mandate that reads “Drake is our top priority at all times.”
This was very much the same case for the immensely talented but underutilized Toronto-based R&B duo Majid Jordan. After contributing heavily to one of Drake’s signature hits, his 2013 single “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Majid Jordan found themselves working under the OVO Sound banner and contributing to other Drake-related projects on a recurring basis. Their 2016 self-titled debut album was a solid outing from the pair, but it seemed like there was no shaking the shadow of Drake that lingered on the lead single “My Love.”
Fast forward over a year later and things are little different. Majid Jordan are now OVO Sound veterans and have a better understanding of their own sound and audience. The Drake co-sign is still there, but it means substantially less than when they first burst onto the scene and tried to fit the mould of their boss. Their talent and creativity has finally blossomed into something beautiful that is truly their own — the result is The Space Between.
The Space Between feels like the Majid Jordan album their fans never received on the debut. It’s detailed and layered unlike any of their previous releases and proves that the pair can succeed as an independent pop entity that simply creates great music. While they still extend invites to the likes of their OVO Sound teammates PartyNextDoor and dvsn, this is very much an album that takes places within the Majid Jordan world and they hold all the power on each and every track.
The seemingly forgotten “Gave Your Love Away,” which proceeded Drake’s “Signs” at the Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring-Summer 2018 fashion show, is one part upscale lounge and one part dancefloor bait. That subtle line between celebration and relaxation is something Majid Jordan has mastered, the music can play blissfully in the background and then turn into an infectious bounce within seconds.
The Space Between is also far from being what has become a standard ode to ‘90s R&B. The duo certainly draws on elements from the era, but they apply it in new and interesting ways such as on “OG Heartthrob” and “Not Ashamed,” the latter which uses robotic auto-tune interpolations that are reminiscent of peak Blackstreet. These moments play more like fond but slightly foggy memories of a different era instead of a straight-up carbon copy.
“One I Want,” their collaboration with PartyNextDoor, is a radio-friendly single with the island vibes that have made Party a star and the sleek futuristic style Majid Jordan brings to the table are carried out flawlessly. It has mainstream appeal yet doesn’t deviate from their signature pop brand.
Perhaps the most personal moment of The Space Between comes on “Phases,” where singer Majid Al Maskati tells the story of his younger days moving from Bahrain to Toronto. His rapidly changing life exposes him to new cultures, places and people and many times it’s an overwhelming sensation that has positive and negative implications as noted when he explains having “all of this love and all this disdain.”
The Space Between is not only the best album in Majid Jordan’s catalogue — it very well might be the best project by any OVO Sound artist to-date. It’s an emotional journey with highs and lows that spawns different feelings throughout, but the constant is always within the music itself. There are no misfires or inorganic attempts at a mainstream sounds, it’s simply Majid Jordan doing what they do best and that’s creating music that makes you feel something.
Words by Patrick Cwiklinski.
Photo © Norman Wong.