MAJID JORDAN RELISH IN THEIR SEX SYMBOL STATUS

MAJID JORDAN’s performance reminds us of boy bands in the ‘90s. There’s no synchronized choreography, or cheesy harmonizing, but there are hordes of screaming, wanton women in the audience, and the duo seemingly can’t get enough. The duo feed off of the feminine energy, and Majid especially so, as he gyrated on stage with longing looks, that every audience member thought was to them. The entire OVO brand seems to be based off of catering to a female audience, and it keeps the fans coming back in droves, every time they’re in town to perform

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Majid Al Maskati is a Bahrain born and raised singer/songwriter who moved to Toronto to pursue a business degree. A chance meeting with Jordan Ullman at a bar during Majid’s 21st birthday party, led to them working on music, as a duo under the name Good People. After renaming their act Majid Jordan, they began releasing their synth heavy, downtempo R&B, which caught the ears of producer Noah Shebib. Majid’s vocals sounded ethereal on Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home off of his Nothing Was The Same EP. It was a breakout track for both Majid and Jordan and fast tracked them to releasing their own music under Drake’s OVO label.

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Jordan Ullman is a Toronto born and bred producer extraordinaire, and one half of Majid Jordan. He’s responsible for the moody sound that has become a signature for the duo, and he was creating for Drake since he was a teenager. Jordan is a classically trained pianist and as he stood up on this futuristic, star-trek looking platform that housed his keyboard, he stood with all the confidence of a maestro.

With the release of their self- titled debut album this year, Jordan and Majid are stepping out from the OVO shadow, and crafting their own vibes.

Tune in to Episode 38 of TSG:OA for a recap of Majid Jordan’s show at the Commodore Ballroom.

 

DANIEL CAESAR REDEFINES THE R&B CROONER

Oshawa born, Toronto based artist DANIEL CAESAR was on our radar after he released Praise Break in 2014. We were instantly hooked, by his lulling falsetto and his range, as much gospel and soul as contemporary R&B. We saw him perform live in Vancouver, and the album came alive under the bright lights of the Biltmore Cabaret as he began to sing Violet, backed by a live band.

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Last year, DANIEL CAESAR followed up Praise break by releasing Pilgrim’s paradise, in which the cover art depicts him free falling into nothingness. The existential tone of the cover carries over into the material, as Danny explores coming of age and questions the religious overtones of his upbringing.

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Daniel Caesar performs with the animated prescience of an artist who’s already released two platinum albums, won a Grammy, married an actress and divorced her in a very public way. Perhaps his confidence stems from his realization of his gift and the emotions that his powerful voice can elicit. Whatever it is, it was palpable in the room, as we watched him command a packed room, in his his olive green jumpsuit.

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Catch a review of his performance on Episode 36 of TSG:OA 

Harrison hones his craft before his social media debut

It’s a fun game to hop on Instagram, or Twitter and scroll back past a curated feed of Fader articles, album covers and performance photos to see who an artist was before they started sharing their music with the world.

But when we played this game with Harrison, a 21-year-old, Toronto based music producer, we were surprised to see how stark his social media accounts were.

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Harrison performs at Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver

After signing with hometown record label, Last Gang, Harrison released his debut EP album, Colors, full of feel good electro soul music. Since then, Harrison has gone on to collaborate with label mates, Ryan Hemsworth, Clairmont the Second and Young Guv for tracks off his soon to be released LP album, Checkpoint Titanium.

There is very little social media existence of Harrison prior to him being signed to Last Gang, late 2014; he has only 179 tweets, despite joining six years ago. He currently has 133 posts on Instagram – the earliest picture dating back to 44 weeks ago. The numbers seem very low, for someone who would’ve essentially grown up with social media (he would have been nine when Facebook launched). For Harrison, the one social media tool he used, and thrived on, was SoundCloud, where his tracks reach up to 450,000 plays. He continues to post to the adulation of the platform’s music community, despite secretly praying it’ll go under.

As we searched for Harrison’s missing social media history, we found an early music video for City Lights from his EP When It’s Bright on Vimeo, and a few dead social media accounts, but mostly, we found that Harrison has been crafting his vision and aesthetic as an artist for a great deal of his life. Everything we found, whether it was a no longer functioning Tumblr account or Twitter account, or his first digital album, Beat Tape Bunkum, shows consistency and growth. The desire to constantly edit our online lives leads people to believe in overnight success stories, but the work begins long before social media. Rather than crafting an image online, Harrison crafted his sound.

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Harrison performs at Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver

 

Harrison started building his references young, at an early age, before he was even aware he wanted to be a producer. In grade seven, he noticed the soundtrack to an anime show, Samurai Champloo and did his research to find it was scored by the late hip-hop instrumentalist, Nujabes. That reference and inspiration has stayed with him, and is identifiable in his work.

This deep thirst for knowledge, and a constant desire for self improvement comes across as he reposts album reviews, acknowledging any critiques, promising he’ll get better. With traces of social anxiety, he’s ever the optimist, as he tweets that he’ll get better. Beyond reposts and tweets, and library books, Harrison credits his mentor, Seamus, and endless hours of YouTube videos for learning his craft.

Harrison was returning library books, when we began our phone interview. Ever self aware, he apologized for sounding cynical after ranting about how the books actually sucked. We were mostly surprised that he still checks out library books. We have more information than we could ever comprehend, at our fingertips, but Harrison still makes the trek to the library.

During our interview with Harrison, we chatted about how he claims he “bad at social media”, despite having amassed 31, 000 followers on SoundCloud. He also told us how he’s looking forward to practicing the piano more, now that his album, Checkpoint Titanium, has wrapped. The album, set for a September 9th release date, is highly anticipated as we wait to see his evolution as a young producer.

Screen Girls On Air: Relic aka Rel McCoy

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The entire vibe of the Toronto hip hop scene has changed since OVO took over in ’09. Fast forward six years later, and the sing/rap style has become all too predictable. It’s important to note that there are still emcees like Ontario’s Relic that are foregoing the trendy path to success, and instead creating sound pieces of music, that remain true to vision.

Relic aka Rel Mccoy is refreshing because he’s so heavily involved in all aspects of the creation of his work from writing to production. He’s a DJ, engineer and producer who’s previously work includes most of the production on Shad’s “The Old Prince” as well as doing engineering for rap group Ghetto Concept.

He’s been working on his own music, and recently dropped The 13th Floor, which tackles the everyday woes of Relic as he navigates through life, the chaos and mayhem that follows (or that he perhaps chases). It’s not at all the glamorous portrait of Toronto that’s oft portrayed; there’s no bitches and bottles to be found in his rhymes. It’s real, but entirely relatable, feeling stripped down and without any accoutrements. It’s a man, his bars and a beat – hip hop at it’s core.

Whether or not this raw and conscious flow can crossover in this climate stands to be seen. It’s dependant on Canadian hip hop audiences and their willingness to (once again) support music with positive imagery. If so, Relic will no doubt stand with Canadian emcees like Shad and Choclair as one of the country’s hip hop wordsmiths.

We interviewed Relic on Episode 28 of Screen Girls on Air and asked him to share with us his thoughts on the Canadian music industry and more.