Singer, songwriter and guitarist Major Myjah considers himself a chameleon. The latest addition to the Warner Bros. Records roster wears crinkly upright hair and arms himself with a diverse musical palette that walks a fine line between pop, rock, hip hop, R&B and island rhythms.
A task-oriented, 17-year-old performer originally raised in Miami, Myjah is not concerned with making hit records when he enters the studio. Now living in Los Angeles, he’s typically free of any concepts in mind when he’s in his creative element.
Myjah, who is of Jamaican descent, performs “Cry,” a power ballad that features remorseful wails, harmonies over booming sparse drums and growling ad-libs. His heartfelt lyricism depicts the hurt he imparts on his scorned love interest.
Clocking in just under four minutes, “Cry” musically ventures into industrial sounds right before the second verse. “I just kinda go with the flow,” he says via phone. “It all comes from my head and what I’m feeling. It’s really an organic process that’s eclectic and goes everywhere from beginning to end.”
Music was always destined to become Myjah’s fate. His father is reggae and dancehall artist, Bounty Killer. Myjah grew up knowing about his famous father but wasn’t exactly familiar with his catalog. To this day, Myjah isn’t fazed by Bounty Killer’s fame and notoriety.
“Now it’s really about listening to the content and taking it into my own,” says Myjah. “I still haven’t really fully dived into it.” Myjah’s mother also worked in the music business booking and managing acts throughout the Caribbean. Under her guidance, Myjah absorbed the practices that typically develop entertainers.
He watched his mother handle everything from negotiating business transactions to designing the stage. Myjah says he went from being young and inexperienced to fully understanding the fundamentals of the music business beyond just recording and shooting music videos. “It has been a journey,” he says. “I’ve been able to see everything evolve. We just flourished.”
When Myjah was 13, the mohawk-wearing teenager released his reggae-influenced debut single, “My Sunshine,” which earning substantial radio play across Europe, Asia and Jamaica. Since then, Myjah’s musicianship has been endorsed by No I.D., Kevin Cossom and James Fauntleroy.
He owns up to being a Beatles fan but normally doesn’t listen to a lot of music by other acts. The artist prefers listening to his own material. “I don’t like to feed my mind with a lot of different things,” he says. “What you put in is what you put out. I just go in with an open fresh mind.”
Another of Myjah’s ballads, “I Can’t Breathe,” allows the sometimes socially conscious artist to offer commentary on police brutality and the shooting of unarmed young black men found in the headlines.
Myjah believes young musicians and songwriters should consider their talents as social responsibility. He says they should speak out about important issues. “The creative community hasn’t been stepping up to the plate and speaking about it,” says Myjah. “As a young artist, especially in this day and age, our new generation growing up has to know about the stuff going on in America. Nobody deserves to be treated this way.”
Gearing up to release his debut album sometime this spring, Myjah doesn’t provide much detail regarding how far he is on the recording process. However, Myjah, a prolific writer that likes to experiment with different concepts, does reveal that his LP will include more songs filled with serious messages.
“We have other records that stand out and mean a lot,” adds Myjah. “There’s definitely other content that means something. I write a lot, and when I write, I wanna touch on things that really matter.”
The first week of January, Myjah played before a full audience at Hollywood’s famed rock venue, Whisky A Go Go. He watches some of rock music’s most iconic talents preceding him on the same stage, so Myjah takes it upon himself to deliver a fun, energetic and emotional performance.
He says his future live sets will have the same format as his show at the Whisky. “It takes you all the way through my states of being,” he believes. “It’s a really dope experience, and a lot of people will gather something from it.”
This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.