Vocalist Majid Al Maskati, one half of Toronto-bred R&B duo Majid Jordan, encouraged the crowd to cheer on producer Jordan Ullman as he switched instruments throughout Sunday night’s show at 9:30 Club.
It was affirming to see the pair display the mutual respect and genuine affection they have for each other, forged through more than a decade of friendship and musical partnership. “I hope that you can find people in your life, like Majid for me — he’s inspired me, he’s given me love,” Ullman said.
They then took to their respective stools and performed the sparse but potent “Chill Pad Deluxe,” the first song they made together back in Ullman’s University of Toronto dorm room. It would become part of “after-hours,” the 2012 EP that caught the attention of integral Drake collaborator Noah “40” Shebib.
The duo’s first EP enjoyed a resurgence after it became available on all streaming platforms last month following the release of their latest album, “Good People.” It was a meaningful side-by-side comparison to hear them evolve from a sonically sure-footed but lyrically hesitant start to their current skillful explorations of earnest tenderness.
The duo met in 2011 at a Toronto club where Al Maskati was celebrating his 21st birthday. They connected over their similar music tastes and found instant chemistry when they linked up to make a few tracks together. Their Soundcloud-released EP earned them a coveted spot on the OVO Sound roster.
They gained critical and commercial success in 2013, helping to craft the Drake-assisted gem “Mine” for Beyoncé’s surprise self-titled album and performing on the Canadian megastar’s synth-led ballad “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” (Drake hoped the track would become a “timeless” single, played at weddings for decades to come.)
Majid Jordan refined their now recognizable Toronto-raised, synth-heavy rhythms for their 2016 self-titled debut and its 2017 follow-up, “The Space Between.” Though their slick and moody pop-R&B waded through fleeting pleasures and late-night murmurings, there was still a touch of buoyancy that allowed the sun to rise the next day. Their 2021 album, “Wildest Dreams,” expanded their pop sensibilities and danceability.
On Sunday night, the duo opened their set with the aching “Tears In Your Eyes,” a steadfast bass line orbiting Al Maskati’s sinuous vocals, stretching with want as he sang, “I’m not playing games with your love / I’m thankful for the way it lifts me up / It’s everything to me.”
Tempered by Al Maskati’s unembellished timbre and Ullman’s measured hand, the sincerity of their newer songs didn’t clump like hardened sugar — instead it melted into a warm sunset, like the gentle grooves of “Violet.”
And while Majid Jordan’s lyrical yearning for connection has matured, their finely honed skill — connecting bodies to savory rhythms — kept the energy fresh, syncing heartbeats to a loving bass line.