Kejam - Majek (2016)

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Kejam – Majek

When I first heard “Start All Over,” “Diamonds” and “Two Can Play,” three tracks from Majek, the upcoming album produced by Dee “Kejam” Majek and James Colah, my mind drifted to Cleveland and Philadelphia. Cleveland is the home town of the Levert family and those tracks definitely brought to mind the muscular baritone voices of Eddie and the late, great Gerald Levert.

Kejam – Majek

When I first heard “Start All Over,” “Diamonds” and “Two Can Play,” three tracks from Majek, the upcoming album produced by Dee “Kejam” Majek and James Colah, my mind drifted to Cleveland and Philadelphia. Cleveland is the home town of the Levert family and those tracks definitely brought to mind the muscular baritone voices of Eddie and the late, great Gerald Levert.

Of course, this is new music from the August 3rd release, Majek. And while we’ve been anticipating something new from Eddie Levert on his own, he would have been pleased to have his name attached to these cuts. The actual lead vocalist on the steppers’ jam “Start All Over,” the more contemporary mid-tempo “Two Can Play,” and the dance track “Diamonds” all belong to Terry Harris. Harris is a soul music lifer who has worked with Kool & the Gang and southern soul legend J. Blackfoot, to name a few, so he brings his own history and identity to this project.

Majek finds Kejam assuming a role that has become familiar to UK based producers of R&B and dance music. He finds vocalists based in the states, as well as other parts of the world, and gives them some pretty solid material with which to work.

In addition to Harris, Kejam recruited SoulTracks’ favorite Cleveland P. Jones, who glides through the delightful urban adult contemporary ballad “Never Listen.” The arrangement, with its infusion of jazz and Jones’ jazz phrasing, had me comparing this tune to some of Anita Baker’s work. If Jones counts Baker as an influence and learned from her, then he is taking cues from one of the best. Jones ends the project with the smooth 80s funk influenced “My Love,” a track that finds him deploying vocals that soar to express his total devotion to his lover. It is perhaps the highest point on a project that has more than its share of solid moments.

“Hold You Down,” a cut on which vocalist Chanel reminds her significant other that there’s no need to be insecure because she has and will always been there, has an acid jazz feel that recalls some of the best 90s tunes by Incognito and others, while LaMenga Kafi’s breathy vocals endow some no regrets sensuality to the disco infused “Looking Back At Love,” a track driven by its propulsive bass line.

A major part of a producer’s role is to pair vocalists with songs that accentuate their strengths, and Colah and Kejam achieve that goal on this project. Kejam stated that his goal is to make music that is timeless. He achieves that goal on Majek, while also creating a project that is a timely rejoinder to anyone lamenting the absence of strong voices and lyrics in contemporary R&B music. Solidly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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