The latest Dallas-based artist to join Def Jam Recordings’ ever-growing roster is rapper MAJ. After releasing his debut EP Majestic this March, MAJ is still at work making music. Earlier this month, he released an ode to cars called “Supreme.”
When making music, MAJ tries to stay away from topics like violence and flaunting wealth. On “Supreme” he celebrates the freedom of a new car, as opposed to the luxury.
“It was my first time ever going to a car dealership,” MAJ says of his inspiration for his latest single. “It inspired me to create a fun song centered around the car and dashing through life.”
MAJ hails from the small town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He describes the town as a desolate land with “lots of trees” and “pine needles,” and the hangout spots being the town’s one Wendy’s or Dairy Queen or Walmart.
As a child, MAJ would perform in school musicals but became more withdrawn following his parents’ divorce. He coped by making YouTube videos in his room, where he would provide commentary on new hip hop tracks and post reaction videos. After listening to albums by Nirvana and Tyler the Creator, MAJ became inspired to create music of his own.
He would put out tracks on YouTube, but he didn’t tell his parents what he was doing. They just assumed he was creating videos.
It wasn’t until label representatives began reaching out to him when he finally told his parents what he was doing.
“I told my mom ‘Yeah, I’ve been making music this whole time,’ and she was happy for me,” MAJ says. “My dad didn’t like it at first. He was like ‘Oh, that’s vulgar,’ but it eventually grew on him.”
MAJ later moved to Dallas and signed to Def Jam.
“I needed to be in a better area where I could network and be comfortable living on my own,” MAJ says. “There’s not much out there to do in Pine Bluff. It’s a small, low-population town, so I needed to develop myself in Dallas before I go to L.A.”
MAJ is gearing up for the release of his follow up, The Exotic Party. He said his second EP will have “more of a party vibe.” It will contain the single “Supreme” and a song called “Blue,” which samples Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee).”
While only a short amount of time has passed between his two EPs, MAJ hopes to maintain a consistent, steady flow of new music. He estimates that he is currently sitting on over 200 unreleased tracks.
“I just make music for fun,” MAJ says. “These projects were done before even the lead singles were released. You can’t get too comfortable. You always have to develop yourself. That’s why I’m constantly making music, so I never run out of music to drop.”
MAJ is one of several Dallas-based artists recently signed to Def Jam. He joins the likes of 10K.Caash, G.U.N. and Kaash Paige. He first met the latter backstage at last year’s Postyfest and says the two have collaborated on a yet-to-be-released song.
He admires the fact that no two Dallas artists sound alike and that each of them has a style that is their own.
“That’s what’s cool about Dallas,” MAJ says. “Everybody that’s coming out of here is different in their own way. 10K is hype, he’s a rapper and Kaash Paige is an R&B singer. And me? I’m just me. I’m majestic.”
In the future, MAJ hopes to collaborate with Def Jam labelmate Kanye West, despite his recent notoriety in the media.
“I can’t hold anything against him,” MAJ says of West. “He’s gotten me through hard times. He can express his opinion and of course there are gonna be things people disagree on, but I really want to work with Kanye. 808s & Heartbreak made my whole life.
The influences of West’s Auto Tune-driven 808s & Heartbreak record are present on many of MAJ’s songs. MAJ doesn’t like to be put in boxes, but his music can be described as a fusion of rock and hip-hop, reminiscent to the emo croons of the late Juice WRLD. On his track “Fuck My Life,” he incorporates grungy sounds with heavy basslines and a fiery guitar solo.
“I’m pretty much genreless,” MAJ says. “I made up my own kind of vibe, which is just majestic. It’s completely organic and you’re going to enjoy it every time.”
He admits that he suffers from anxiety and that he sees his music as an outlet to be vulnerable. During the early stages of COVID-19, he found it tough to cope with the fact that he couldn’t go to the studio to record material.
“It really made me unmotivated,” MAJ says, “I felt really vulnerable in a way, but we have to keep pushing and look for better days. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t see my family, I couldn’t even go to the studio to work. It’s really hard when I consider studio sessions as therapy sessions. I know we’re not completely past this, but I can see better days.”
Although MAJ is still in the early stages of his career, he hopes to achieve the rites of passage that many artists aim for. Granted, he doesn’t want these accolades as much for the ability to flaunt, but rather to be a voice for people from small, rural towns.
“I want to be able to accomplish being on the Billboard charts,” MAJ says. “Honestly, that doesn’t matter to me, but I want to show people that I came from Pine Bluff, the middle of nowhere, and managed to come out of it. As cliche as it sounds, you can literally do anything you want to do.”