Album Review: A Place Like This – EP, Majid Jordan (Ovo Sound/Warner Bros, 2014)

MJ500x500 On a business trip to Florida last year, an associate asked me where I was from and when I said Toronto, she said, “oh, so you must be friends with Drake.”

This went over my head at the time because she was a middle-aged Floridian who looked like her music library had plenty of Jimmy Buffet but nary a hint of hip hop. Turns out, she knew full well the notoriety that Drake (a.k.a. Aubrey Drake Graham) brought to my native city.

At the time, I hadn’t really explored Drake’s music. When I sampled his album, Nothing Was the Same (Cash Money Records, 2013), the two tracks that appealed most to me were the trancey “From Time feat. Jhene Aiko” and “Hold On We’re Going Home feat. Majid Jordan,” which hit number 1 on R&B charts last year.

Majid Jordan is a Toronto-based duo consisting of Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman. Their debut EP, A Place Like This, offers more of the etherial vibe of that Drake track, with a grounding in R&B and an unabashed embrace of electronic music.

All five tracks on this EP are strong, with the title track and “Her” being the most immediately accessible. The entire EP, however has a consistent feel that makes it a quick end-to-end listen.

This project continues a promising trend in the interplay of R&B and electronic music. Acts like Jessie Ware, The Internet, Lulu James, and the excellent KING have all released soulful R&B tracks with electronic production that gives them newness without resorting to gimmickry. Also native sons of Toronto, it might be said that Al Maskati and Ullman labour in Drake’s shadow. A Place Like This surely gives Majid Jordan a place in the sun.