King Django
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King Django

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | INDIE

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Band World Reggae

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King Django:
King Django is sort of a New York ska legends. Playing in various traditional bands including Skinnerbox and Stubborn All Stars, he and his massive amount of bands mates had some trouble fitting on the cramped stage (the band consisted of all the usual instruments including some extra horns, a ukelele, and a keytar). Their style ranged from traditional reggae, two tone ska, to dancehall, and had the entire crowd getting their groove on to the king. Definitely check him out if he comes to your area. - http://midwesternhousewives.com


King Django:
King Django is sort of a New York ska legends. Playing in various traditional bands including Skinnerbox and Stubborn All Stars, he and his massive amount of bands mates had some trouble fitting on the cramped stage (the band consisted of all the usual instruments including some extra horns, a ukelele, and a keytar). Their style ranged from traditional reggae, two tone ska, to dancehall, and had the entire crowd getting their groove on to the king. Definitely check him out if he comes to your area. - http://midwesternhousewives.com


When you think of ska, if you think of a bunch of 13 year olds wearing their parents suits running around in circles, let King Django cleanse that vision for you. King Django is easily one of the most underrated old school ska / roots reggae artists around. Coming from New York, King Django is sort of a ska legend in the tri-state area.

On Roots Tonic, King Django proves that he is as authentic as any reggae band from Jamaica. From old school rocksteady numbers such as “Hard Hard Thing” to the much more roots reggae “No Trial”, King Django deserves much more credit than he is given.

Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of traditional ska and reggae, as it’s a must to any rocksteady collection. - http://midwesternhousewives.com


When you think of ska, if you think of a bunch of 13 year olds wearing their parents suits running around in circles, let King Django cleanse that vision for you. King Django is easily one of the most underrated old school ska / roots reggae artists around. Coming from New York, King Django is sort of a ska legend in the tri-state area.

On Roots Tonic, King Django proves that he is as authentic as any reggae band from Jamaica. From old school rocksteady numbers such as “Hard Hard Thing” to the much more roots reggae “No Trial”, King Django deserves much more credit than he is given.

Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of traditional ska and reggae, as it’s a must to any rocksteady collection. - http://midwesternhousewives.com


Interview with Jeff "King Django" Baker
Jeff Baker has been involved in the New York ska scene since the mid 1980's with bands like The Boilers, Murphys Law, Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars as well as doing his own solo songs and working with other bands like The Radiation Kings, The Slackers, The Toasters and so on. He also runs his Stubborn Records label and Version City studio which records all of hius bands as well as all the other ska/reggae groups in New York City. This is an interview with him, the head of the New York City Ska Mob.

KYLE- Whats been going on with you lately?

DJANGO- My brother Doug recently left the label so I've been digging back in and re-familiarizing myself witht he day-to-day opertations. We recently hooked up with BIB Records for distrobution, so hopefully our stuff will be more readily available now. I am looking for a new place to live so I can have a proper office and my studio all under one roof. We put a bunch of records out on Stubborn this year, a lot for us: Roots Branch and Stem Volume 2; Victor Rice at Version City; Stubborn All-Stars Nex Music; Radiation Kings Early years. We also liscensed the NYC Ska Mob compilation to Triple Crown Records and Version City Rockers Version City Dub Clash to Jumpstart Records. Grover Records in Germany have been releasing some of our stuff over in Europe lately as well so we toured over there twice in the last year, that was cool. We are expanding the Black and White 'zine to 32 pages and will be having reviews and stuff, and just alot more different stuff in it. Apart from all that, we've been doing as many Stubborn All-Stars shows as possible, and I just started rehearsals for a new "solo" album.

KYLE- Are you ever going to bring the Ska Mob down to Cali?

DJANGO- I would totally love to come back to Cali, I havent really gotten a chance to spend as much time there as I'd like. I probobly will come out there with my solo project just cause it will probobly be easier that way. As far as one of those giant Ska Mob tours, it's very difficult to mount something that size, and alot of peoples heads have really inflated to the point where they are very difficult to deal with so I dont really see that happening until some folks get over themselves.

KYLE- Whats up with Skinnerbox? Is Skinnerbox still a top priority for you?

DJANGO- Right now Skinnerbox is on indefinite hiatus. If it starts up again, I don't know who will be in it, but I do have alot of ideas that are not really suited to Stubborn All-Stars or my solo thing so only time will tell.

KYLE- Who plays on the "Nex Music" album?

DJANGO- It's the same rhythm section: good Vic, bad Vic, Headdie and Jay. Theres less big horn stuff on this one but we got Rolf Lansjoen (Skinnerbox) and Sledge (ex Toasters) on trumpets, John Chapman (SkoiDats)and Ramon Fleysher (who has since joined the Bosstones) on sax...theres a bunch of others in the mix too.

KYLE- Does "Nex Music" follow the paths of reggae and versions and all that like "Back With a New batch" did or will it be more ska like "Open Season"?

DJANGO- It does both, it reaches back further into earlier ska styles than "Open Season" did and forward into later reggae styles as well.

KYLE- Will you be putting out another solo album anytime soon?

DJANGO- I don't know when it's coming out but I should be in the studio in December.

KYLE- It seems that New York musicians have the tighest ska scene in the country, and probobly the world. What do you think caused this? The Ska Mob thing or Version City or what?

DJANGO- I think at this point it's kind of illusory. As I said earlier, certian people really started to think they were rock stars and it's very hard to be around them now. In the last year or two I have to say it's got pretty ugly and some people have been really selfish and forgotten who their friends are and stuff like that. I'm personally very disillusioned with the whole thing, so my crew has become smaller but more stable.

KYLE- What do you think of the state of todays ska scene?

DJANGO- I dont like most new music, especially most new ska. There's not a lot going on that I can appreciate. I have been listening to this music for so long that it's very hard for me to be impressed with some band who just rips off a load of songs that I've heard for years. I'm more looking for substance than style, I look for good, creative, original writing and strong, meaningful lyrics. There are still good ska records being made, but theyre few and far between. I'm also tired of the narrowminded pigeon-holing attitude of alot of people, but thats just across the board on the planet, not just int he ska scene. It seems like people want you to just freeze in time and keep repeating yourselves, doing the same thing over and over. They expect you to decide what you are one day and just stay that way. I could never do that. I need to grow and change and learn all the time and my music will always ref - Ska'N'Soul


Interview with Jeff "King Django" Baker
Jeff Baker has been involved in the New York ska scene since the mid 1980's with bands like The Boilers, Murphys Law, Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars as well as doing his own solo songs and working with other bands like The Radiation Kings, The Slackers, The Toasters and so on. He also runs his Stubborn Records label and Version City studio which records all of hius bands as well as all the other ska/reggae groups in New York City. This is an interview with him, the head of the New York City Ska Mob.

KYLE- Whats been going on with you lately?

DJANGO- My brother Doug recently left the label so I've been digging back in and re-familiarizing myself witht he day-to-day opertations. We recently hooked up with BIB Records for distrobution, so hopefully our stuff will be more readily available now. I am looking for a new place to live so I can have a proper office and my studio all under one roof. We put a bunch of records out on Stubborn this year, a lot for us: Roots Branch and Stem Volume 2; Victor Rice at Version City; Stubborn All-Stars Nex Music; Radiation Kings Early years. We also liscensed the NYC Ska Mob compilation to Triple Crown Records and Version City Rockers Version City Dub Clash to Jumpstart Records. Grover Records in Germany have been releasing some of our stuff over in Europe lately as well so we toured over there twice in the last year, that was cool. We are expanding the Black and White 'zine to 32 pages and will be having reviews and stuff, and just alot more different stuff in it. Apart from all that, we've been doing as many Stubborn All-Stars shows as possible, and I just started rehearsals for a new "solo" album.

KYLE- Are you ever going to bring the Ska Mob down to Cali?

DJANGO- I would totally love to come back to Cali, I havent really gotten a chance to spend as much time there as I'd like. I probobly will come out there with my solo project just cause it will probobly be easier that way. As far as one of those giant Ska Mob tours, it's very difficult to mount something that size, and alot of peoples heads have really inflated to the point where they are very difficult to deal with so I dont really see that happening until some folks get over themselves.

KYLE- Whats up with Skinnerbox? Is Skinnerbox still a top priority for you?

DJANGO- Right now Skinnerbox is on indefinite hiatus. If it starts up again, I don't know who will be in it, but I do have alot of ideas that are not really suited to Stubborn All-Stars or my solo thing so only time will tell.

KYLE- Who plays on the "Nex Music" album?

DJANGO- It's the same rhythm section: good Vic, bad Vic, Headdie and Jay. Theres less big horn stuff on this one but we got Rolf Lansjoen (Skinnerbox) and Sledge (ex Toasters) on trumpets, John Chapman (SkoiDats)and Ramon Fleysher (who has since joined the Bosstones) on sax...theres a bunch of others in the mix too.

KYLE- Does "Nex Music" follow the paths of reggae and versions and all that like "Back With a New batch" did or will it be more ska like "Open Season"?

DJANGO- It does both, it reaches back further into earlier ska styles than "Open Season" did and forward into later reggae styles as well.

KYLE- Will you be putting out another solo album anytime soon?

DJANGO- I don't know when it's coming out but I should be in the studio in December.

KYLE- It seems that New York musicians have the tighest ska scene in the country, and probobly the world. What do you think caused this? The Ska Mob thing or Version City or what?

DJANGO- I think at this point it's kind of illusory. As I said earlier, certian people really started to think they were rock stars and it's very hard to be around them now. In the last year or two I have to say it's got pretty ugly and some people have been really selfish and forgotten who their friends are and stuff like that. I'm personally very disillusioned with the whole thing, so my crew has become smaller but more stable.

KYLE- What do you think of the state of todays ska scene?

DJANGO- I dont like most new music, especially most new ska. There's not a lot going on that I can appreciate. I have been listening to this music for so long that it's very hard for me to be impressed with some band who just rips off a load of songs that I've heard for years. I'm more looking for substance than style, I look for good, creative, original writing and strong, meaningful lyrics. There are still good ska records being made, but theyre few and far between. I'm also tired of the narrowminded pigeon-holing attitude of alot of people, but thats just across the board on the planet, not just int he ska scene. It seems like people want you to just freeze in time and keep repeating yourselves, doing the same thing over and over. They expect you to decide what you are one day and just stay that way. I could never do that. I need to grow and change and learn all the time and my music will always ref - Ska'N'Soul


King Django
Front man for Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars
By: Alex Steininger

Long a fixture on the New York ska scene, King Django has been kicking out some of the best ska America has ever seen for many years now -- through outlets like the Stubborn All-Stars and Skinnerbox. A true master of ska and reggae, King Django earns his throne in the New York ska community. Now a free agent (label-less), 1999 seems to be a whirlwind year for Django and anything is possible.
Alex: Explain the process that took place to choose the tracks for DEMONSTRATION (review).

Django: The record was made, it wasn't recorded as an album. The tracks on DEMONSTRATION are the ones we recorded over a 16-18 month period. The tracks were recorded for compilations, and a few were demos. "Straight to Hell" was recorded for a Clash compilation that still hasn't been released, and "Happy New Year" was for a Christmas compilation in Japan. DEMONSTRATION was not designed as an album.

Alex: Were there any other tracks that almost made the album, but for some reason or another you didn't go with them?

Django: An instrumental version of "A Fine Romance," but that's it. The album was just all the compilation tracks we'd done and one demo session.

Alex: Are you happy with the way the album turned out?

Django: I like the way it came out. For Skinnerbox, it's the most rock 'n' roll record we've made, and the most traditional album.

Alex: How is it the most traditional album Skinnerbox has done?

Django: It's got more R&B and traditional ska than on past Skinnerbox albums?

Alex: Does Skinnerbox have any plans to tour in support of DEMONSTRATION?

Django: We're supposed to leave Christmas day for Europe, but it hasn't been released there yet. Also, Mephiskapheles took my bass player and guitarist by lowering them with cash. So there will be a lot of re-grouping when I get back from Europe. Or, I might just quit.

Alex: Quit?

Django: Yeah, I've thought of just quitting and giving up. There are a lot of egos in the band, and I need people to write with. I can't feed them it all. So, who knows.

Alex: Why did Moon end up passing on the next Skinnerbox album? Any ill feelings towards Moon?

Django: There wasn't enough money was their excuse. They signed a deal memo with me for the money, but then they decided they didn't want to spend the money on it. As far as I know, a deal memo is legally binding. I could have been difficult about it, but I decided to just walk away. Regarding any ill feelings...I'm a bit angry at them for it. I mean, if they hadn't jerked me around I could have secured a new deal. But it went down to the wire, and then they dropped it on me. They told me a week before I was to enter the studio that they weren't going to do it.

Alex: Now that Triple Crown has put out DEMONSTRATION, is Skinnerbox an official member of their roster?

Django: I am not signed to any label. Neither Skinnerbox nor the Stubborn All-Stars have a label. I am a free agent.

Alex: Are you actively pursuing a record deal?

Django: Yeah, I'm looking for a new job.

Alex: Between Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars, is there one band you take more seriously than the other in terms of making a living off of. Or, are they both equal in your eyes?

Django: They both cost me as much as each other. I make my money touring with both bands, and I haven't been touring for the past month. But, I don't pick one over the other. The only difference between the two is that one is a more traditional band [the Stubborn All-Stars], and the other is more experimental.

Alex: What have you been doing for the past month to keep yourself busy?

Django: I went down to Florida to visit a friend, and he's into electronica music. We worked on some drum 'n' bass stuff. I'm pretty in to it now that I've worked with him. We cut some great tracks.

Alex: Recently you released a solo album. Want to tell me about that?

Django: One day Fred Feldmann -- who now owns Triple Crown Records, but used to own Another Planet -- asked me about a Stubborn All-Stars Christmas album. I told him I was Jewish, and that was the end of that. Two weeks later he came up to me and said, "I've got it!" I was like, "Got what?" Then he started telling me about his idea for a...a Jewish ska album.

Alex: How long did it take to make?

Django: It took forever. It's half covers and half originals, and I was on tour most of the time. So it was hard to squeeze it in between touring and making the new Stubborn All-Stars record. But I really like it. My mom likes it, too. I made it for my family.

Alex: Does your mom not like some of your other stuff?

Django: Anything that is soft and pretty they like. Like Stubborn All-Stars stuff. They don't care much for the Skinnerbox stuff that is hard. They want me to be Tony Bennett or something.

Alex: Any plans for any other solo releases?

Django: I don't know about anything after Europe. I'm pre - In Music We Trust


King Django
Front man for Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars
By: Alex Steininger

Long a fixture on the New York ska scene, King Django has been kicking out some of the best ska America has ever seen for many years now -- through outlets like the Stubborn All-Stars and Skinnerbox. A true master of ska and reggae, King Django earns his throne in the New York ska community. Now a free agent (label-less), 1999 seems to be a whirlwind year for Django and anything is possible.
Alex: Explain the process that took place to choose the tracks for DEMONSTRATION (review).

Django: The record was made, it wasn't recorded as an album. The tracks on DEMONSTRATION are the ones we recorded over a 16-18 month period. The tracks were recorded for compilations, and a few were demos. "Straight to Hell" was recorded for a Clash compilation that still hasn't been released, and "Happy New Year" was for a Christmas compilation in Japan. DEMONSTRATION was not designed as an album.

Alex: Were there any other tracks that almost made the album, but for some reason or another you didn't go with them?

Django: An instrumental version of "A Fine Romance," but that's it. The album was just all the compilation tracks we'd done and one demo session.

Alex: Are you happy with the way the album turned out?

Django: I like the way it came out. For Skinnerbox, it's the most rock 'n' roll record we've made, and the most traditional album.

Alex: How is it the most traditional album Skinnerbox has done?

Django: It's got more R&B and traditional ska than on past Skinnerbox albums?

Alex: Does Skinnerbox have any plans to tour in support of DEMONSTRATION?

Django: We're supposed to leave Christmas day for Europe, but it hasn't been released there yet. Also, Mephiskapheles took my bass player and guitarist by lowering them with cash. So there will be a lot of re-grouping when I get back from Europe. Or, I might just quit.

Alex: Quit?

Django: Yeah, I've thought of just quitting and giving up. There are a lot of egos in the band, and I need people to write with. I can't feed them it all. So, who knows.

Alex: Why did Moon end up passing on the next Skinnerbox album? Any ill feelings towards Moon?

Django: There wasn't enough money was their excuse. They signed a deal memo with me for the money, but then they decided they didn't want to spend the money on it. As far as I know, a deal memo is legally binding. I could have been difficult about it, but I decided to just walk away. Regarding any ill feelings...I'm a bit angry at them for it. I mean, if they hadn't jerked me around I could have secured a new deal. But it went down to the wire, and then they dropped it on me. They told me a week before I was to enter the studio that they weren't going to do it.

Alex: Now that Triple Crown has put out DEMONSTRATION, is Skinnerbox an official member of their roster?

Django: I am not signed to any label. Neither Skinnerbox nor the Stubborn All-Stars have a label. I am a free agent.

Alex: Are you actively pursuing a record deal?

Django: Yeah, I'm looking for a new job.

Alex: Between Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars, is there one band you take more seriously than the other in terms of making a living off of. Or, are they both equal in your eyes?

Django: They both cost me as much as each other. I make my money touring with both bands, and I haven't been touring for the past month. But, I don't pick one over the other. The only difference between the two is that one is a more traditional band [the Stubborn All-Stars], and the other is more experimental.

Alex: What have you been doing for the past month to keep yourself busy?

Django: I went down to Florida to visit a friend, and he's into electronica music. We worked on some drum 'n' bass stuff. I'm pretty in to it now that I've worked with him. We cut some great tracks.

Alex: Recently you released a solo album. Want to tell me about that?

Django: One day Fred Feldmann -- who now owns Triple Crown Records, but used to own Another Planet -- asked me about a Stubborn All-Stars Christmas album. I told him I was Jewish, and that was the end of that. Two weeks later he came up to me and said, "I've got it!" I was like, "Got what?" Then he started telling me about his idea for a...a Jewish ska album.

Alex: How long did it take to make?

Django: It took forever. It's half covers and half originals, and I was on tour most of the time. So it was hard to squeeze it in between touring and making the new Stubborn All-Stars record. But I really like it. My mom likes it, too. I made it for my family.

Alex: Does your mom not like some of your other stuff?

Django: Anything that is soft and pretty they like. Like Stubborn All-Stars stuff. They don't care much for the Skinnerbox stuff that is hard. They want me to be Tony Bennett or something.

Alex: Any plans for any other solo releases?

Django: I don't know about anything after Europe. I'm pre - In Music We Trust


Friday, May 4, 2012
Skankin' in the Tri-State Part 1...King Django...
...hunting season is now open...and all DJ's are fair game...


Can I tell you how many times we used to crank The Stubborn All-Star's "Open Season" in my younger days? I first heard it on a "Give Em' The Boot" compilation I think I found at Hot Topic, somewhere in the 90's. The 90's are a blur. I still find myself quoting it, playing it regularly on my radio show (it often opens my show, because how appropriate is that?), and probably annoying the ever loving HELL out of the people who live above where we presently broadcast from in Stroudsburg, PA with my obnoxious, loud singing and dancing. Of course I do this song no justice. The Stubborn All-Stars were led by none other than King Django. I have been chasing this gentleman for weeks. I can be really annoying when I want something, and he finally gave in.


When it came time for me to launch my summer ska series on my radio show and my blog, I wanted to focus on the NYC scene...which of course branches into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, because who the fuck can still afford to live in the city? Besides...Jersey has taylor ham. New York and it's scene has a particular vibe to it. The music that came out of it, and continues to come out of it, is a breed all it's own in it's flavor and it's energy, and the ska and reggae scene is no exception. But anyone who knows this area knows it bleeds into Jersey via bridges, tunnels, and speakers, and Jersey is where I call home. Head on South a bit, and you land in New Brunswick. Rutgers, fat-cats, and King Django's Version City Studios. It's a magical land of ska, reggae, rocksteady, and the like expertly threaded together by King Django himself, also the home of his own legendary Stubborn Records.


It's an honor for me to include anyone in this series who did as much for the scene as Django has, and continues to do. He is a pioneer in the NewYork ska scene going back to the 80's. Whether it is his own projects, as a contributor, or helping to record and produce fellow musicians in the scene, he continues to put his stamp on the music that still brings people to the sweaty dance floor to this day. It's also an honor to be able to profile someone who's music was and continues to be in my own ears as much as his has. Be it with Stubborn All-Stars or Skinnerbox. Plus the countless artists who's work he was a contributor to...Murphy's Law, The Slackers, The Toasters, and Rancid, just to name a few.


Look at this crazy discography!


Next weekend, Django's Stubborn Records label celebrates it's 20th anniversary with a show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Performances by Django himself an others set this show up to be something not to be missed. I caught up with the man himself and was able to hold him down long enough to answer some questions for me.

What have you been up to? What are you working on?
King Django: I have been up to my eyeballs! The Stubborn Records label is celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, with a HUGE party happening on May 12 at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. In honor of the anniversary, we've just released two new 45s in cooperation with Ska In The World Records from Tokyo Japan. One is a new mix of "Anywhere I Roam" with my friends the Forthrights, backed with a fun ska cover version of "Career Opportunities" originally by The Clash. The other is some crazy electro-dancehall-roots music (Forward backed with Rescue Mission) I did with my good friend Ari Up, who is no longer with us. I'm glad we were finally able to get that one out. And yesterday, we just got in the first CD celebrating our 20th Anniversary- Victor Rice's "Dub Discoveries From Version City" which is fresh, new dub versions of a great, eclectic sampling of our whole catalog, going way, way back.


In the studio, I've been very busy doing a lot of recording, mixing and mastering for other bands and artists. Most recently I have been working on an EP with The Snails from Pennsylvania, with whom I have recently played a bunch of shows. Did some recording, mixing and mastering for some of my friends in Staten Island called "Not From Concentrate" for their upcoming EP. I mixed several tunes for the Forthrights next release, and am mixing a showcase album for CHX Sound System from Quebec City! In between, I have been working on my next album, which is getting close to finished. That's going to be really fun, it features a lot of my friends from all over the place.


What kickstarted your entrance to ska/reggae music?
King Django: I was originally introduced to the 2-Tone sound in the end of the 1970s! After that I quickly became enamored of Jamaican music. I was not a musician at that time. I started playing trombone specifically to play ska and reggae music!

Where do you think ska music is headed in 2012 and moving forward?
King Django: I have no idea whatsoever! I'm a bit old-fashioned. I tend to real - A Perfect Mess


Friday, May 4, 2012
Skankin' in the Tri-State Part 1...King Django...
...hunting season is now open...and all DJ's are fair game...


Can I tell you how many times we used to crank The Stubborn All-Star's "Open Season" in my younger days? I first heard it on a "Give Em' The Boot" compilation I think I found at Hot Topic, somewhere in the 90's. The 90's are a blur. I still find myself quoting it, playing it regularly on my radio show (it often opens my show, because how appropriate is that?), and probably annoying the ever loving HELL out of the people who live above where we presently broadcast from in Stroudsburg, PA with my obnoxious, loud singing and dancing. Of course I do this song no justice. The Stubborn All-Stars were led by none other than King Django. I have been chasing this gentleman for weeks. I can be really annoying when I want something, and he finally gave in.


When it came time for me to launch my summer ska series on my radio show and my blog, I wanted to focus on the NYC scene...which of course branches into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, because who the fuck can still afford to live in the city? Besides...Jersey has taylor ham. New York and it's scene has a particular vibe to it. The music that came out of it, and continues to come out of it, is a breed all it's own in it's flavor and it's energy, and the ska and reggae scene is no exception. But anyone who knows this area knows it bleeds into Jersey via bridges, tunnels, and speakers, and Jersey is where I call home. Head on South a bit, and you land in New Brunswick. Rutgers, fat-cats, and King Django's Version City Studios. It's a magical land of ska, reggae, rocksteady, and the like expertly threaded together by King Django himself, also the home of his own legendary Stubborn Records.


It's an honor for me to include anyone in this series who did as much for the scene as Django has, and continues to do. He is a pioneer in the NewYork ska scene going back to the 80's. Whether it is his own projects, as a contributor, or helping to record and produce fellow musicians in the scene, he continues to put his stamp on the music that still brings people to the sweaty dance floor to this day. It's also an honor to be able to profile someone who's music was and continues to be in my own ears as much as his has. Be it with Stubborn All-Stars or Skinnerbox. Plus the countless artists who's work he was a contributor to...Murphy's Law, The Slackers, The Toasters, and Rancid, just to name a few.


Look at this crazy discography!


Next weekend, Django's Stubborn Records label celebrates it's 20th anniversary with a show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Performances by Django himself an others set this show up to be something not to be missed. I caught up with the man himself and was able to hold him down long enough to answer some questions for me.

What have you been up to? What are you working on?
King Django: I have been up to my eyeballs! The Stubborn Records label is celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, with a HUGE party happening on May 12 at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. In honor of the anniversary, we've just released two new 45s in cooperation with Ska In The World Records from Tokyo Japan. One is a new mix of "Anywhere I Roam" with my friends the Forthrights, backed with a fun ska cover version of "Career Opportunities" originally by The Clash. The other is some crazy electro-dancehall-roots music (Forward backed with Rescue Mission) I did with my good friend Ari Up, who is no longer with us. I'm glad we were finally able to get that one out. And yesterday, we just got in the first CD celebrating our 20th Anniversary- Victor Rice's "Dub Discoveries From Version City" which is fresh, new dub versions of a great, eclectic sampling of our whole catalog, going way, way back.


In the studio, I've been very busy doing a lot of recording, mixing and mastering for other bands and artists. Most recently I have been working on an EP with The Snails from Pennsylvania, with whom I have recently played a bunch of shows. Did some recording, mixing and mastering for some of my friends in Staten Island called "Not From Concentrate" for their upcoming EP. I mixed several tunes for the Forthrights next release, and am mixing a showcase album for CHX Sound System from Quebec City! In between, I have been working on my next album, which is getting close to finished. That's going to be really fun, it features a lot of my friends from all over the place.


What kickstarted your entrance to ska/reggae music?
King Django: I was originally introduced to the 2-Tone sound in the end of the 1970s! After that I quickly became enamored of Jamaican music. I was not a musician at that time. I started playing trombone specifically to play ska and reggae music!

Where do you think ska music is headed in 2012 and moving forward?
King Django: I have no idea whatsoever! I'm a bit old-fashioned. I tend to real - A Perfect Mess


One thing is certain: you can?t accuse King Django of resting on his laurels and simply making the same record over and over. Whether with his two main projects (the traditionalists Stubborn All-Stars and the post-modern Skinnerbox), in his production work, or in any number of side projects, Django (nee Jeff Baker) continually changes things up, trying fresh approaches and new ideas, and defying all expectations. That?s even truer of the projects he releases under his own (stage) name. 1998?s King Django?s Roots and Culture was a challenging and interesting foray, mixing ska and reggae with klezmer and Judaica. Now his Hellcat Records debut, Reason, mixes things up even more, bringing elements of punk, jungle, hip hop, dub, electronica, dancehall, and much more into the mix, making for a mix of sounds that, while extremely eclectic, still manages to gel into a cohesive whole. The result is one of the most compelling and eminently listenable albums of the year thus far.
Based on the presence of several members of the late, lamented Florida band King 7 & the Soulsonics (including current Mighty Mighty Bosstones saxophonist Roman Fleysher) and the liner note that several of Reason?s basic tracks were recorded in Ft. Lauderdale, I?m assuming that the genesis of this project was in late ?98, when Django toured Florida with King 7 as ?King Django & the Soulsonics? (see live review). At the time, I was told (not directly by Django, mind you), that the idea was to do a dancehall project. While there are certainly dancehall elements on the record (like the naughty slackness of ?Chase Pum Pum,? for just one example), Reason is so much more than just a dancehall project. Take ?Hustle The Mac,? which has some of those dancehall elements, especially in the toasting, but adds in a killer deep horn line, some breakbeat drum programming, and some nice, dubby effects at the end. Or the dense, heavy title track, which marries a nice reggae groove to a harder guitar sound and Django?s incomparable toasting). Or the anthemic punk flavor of ?Kick It Out,? the torchy, soulful ?I Got a Ride,? the moody ?Precipice,? the acidic ?I Don?t Want You.? But most stunning is the closing ?Cold Fronting,? which marries hard electronic drumbeats with a cool guitar and Django?s smooth vocals for a completely unique sound. In short, everywhere you turn on Reason, there?s something new, different, fresh, and exciting happening.
Even when Django revisits old themes and ideas, the result is fresh and vibrant. Take the rerecorded version of the Skinnerbox tune ?LKO,? for example, which takes the basic riddim and mixes it up with tasty keys and beeping electronics for a completely new sound. And when Django lobs another salvo in the long-running ?Season? battle (see also Stubborn All-Stars? ?Open Season,? Hepcat?s ?Open Season?Is Closed,? Skinnerbox?s ?Hepcat Season,? and more), he changes it up: while still bragging about his skills, he sets to rest any lingering doubts that the whole thing wasn?t all in fun (?I?ll kick it non-stop off the top of my head/But I didn?t come to talk about the next man dead/If he try test me or step to my crew/Cause I ain?t the type of guy to pull a gun on you?), but still takes a swipe at his chief rivals in the ?Season? battles, Hepcat?s Alex Desert and Richie ?Dr. Ring-Ding? Senior (?My echo ring from California to Germany?), while paying props to both the New York Posse and old school heroes like Prince Buster and Yellowman.
In all, it?s no stretch to say that Django?s got another winner in Reason. I don?t expect I?ll stop listening to this one any time soon ? the record simply demands repeated listens and complete attention. I can?t give this one a higher recommendation. Pick it up, and catch him on tour this summer to see just how he?s gonna pull this crazy business off live!
Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026; http://www.hell-cat.com, http://www.kingdjango.com

Julio Diaz - Ink 19


One thing is certain: you can?t accuse King Django of resting on his laurels and simply making the same record over and over. Whether with his two main projects (the traditionalists Stubborn All-Stars and the post-modern Skinnerbox), in his production work, or in any number of side projects, Django (nee Jeff Baker) continually changes things up, trying fresh approaches and new ideas, and defying all expectations. That?s even truer of the projects he releases under his own (stage) name. 1998?s King Django?s Roots and Culture was a challenging and interesting foray, mixing ska and reggae with klezmer and Judaica. Now his Hellcat Records debut, Reason, mixes things up even more, bringing elements of punk, jungle, hip hop, dub, electronica, dancehall, and much more into the mix, making for a mix of sounds that, while extremely eclectic, still manages to gel into a cohesive whole. The result is one of the most compelling and eminently listenable albums of the year thus far.
Based on the presence of several members of the late, lamented Florida band King 7 & the Soulsonics (including current Mighty Mighty Bosstones saxophonist Roman Fleysher) and the liner note that several of Reason?s basic tracks were recorded in Ft. Lauderdale, I?m assuming that the genesis of this project was in late ?98, when Django toured Florida with King 7 as ?King Django & the Soulsonics? (see live review). At the time, I was told (not directly by Django, mind you), that the idea was to do a dancehall project. While there are certainly dancehall elements on the record (like the naughty slackness of ?Chase Pum Pum,? for just one example), Reason is so much more than just a dancehall project. Take ?Hustle The Mac,? which has some of those dancehall elements, especially in the toasting, but adds in a killer deep horn line, some breakbeat drum programming, and some nice, dubby effects at the end. Or the dense, heavy title track, which marries a nice reggae groove to a harder guitar sound and Django?s incomparable toasting). Or the anthemic punk flavor of ?Kick It Out,? the torchy, soulful ?I Got a Ride,? the moody ?Precipice,? the acidic ?I Don?t Want You.? But most stunning is the closing ?Cold Fronting,? which marries hard electronic drumbeats with a cool guitar and Django?s smooth vocals for a completely unique sound. In short, everywhere you turn on Reason, there?s something new, different, fresh, and exciting happening.
Even when Django revisits old themes and ideas, the result is fresh and vibrant. Take the rerecorded version of the Skinnerbox tune ?LKO,? for example, which takes the basic riddim and mixes it up with tasty keys and beeping electronics for a completely new sound. And when Django lobs another salvo in the long-running ?Season? battle (see also Stubborn All-Stars? ?Open Season,? Hepcat?s ?Open Season?Is Closed,? Skinnerbox?s ?Hepcat Season,? and more), he changes it up: while still bragging about his skills, he sets to rest any lingering doubts that the whole thing wasn?t all in fun (?I?ll kick it non-stop off the top of my head/But I didn?t come to talk about the next man dead/If he try test me or step to my crew/Cause I ain?t the type of guy to pull a gun on you?), but still takes a swipe at his chief rivals in the ?Season? battles, Hepcat?s Alex Desert and Richie ?Dr. Ring-Ding? Senior (?My echo ring from California to Germany?), while paying props to both the New York Posse and old school heroes like Prince Buster and Yellowman.
In all, it?s no stretch to say that Django?s got another winner in Reason. I don?t expect I?ll stop listening to this one any time soon ? the record simply demands repeated listens and complete attention. I can?t give this one a higher recommendation. Pick it up, and catch him on tour this summer to see just how he?s gonna pull this crazy business off live!
Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026; http://www.hell-cat.com, http://www.kingdjango.com

Julio Diaz - Ink 19


After taking a quick look at the liner notes as I gave the CD a listen for the first time, I was blown away by the line-up he got for the album. It was a who’s who of the New York and New Jersey ska scene. With the likes of Victor Ruggiero and Agent J from The Slackers, Victor Rice, Sugar Minott, Dr. Ring Ding, Rocker T, Obi Fernandez from Westbound Train, Dave Hahn from David Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7, and Dub is a Weapon. The list goes on and on. It definitely makes for some high expectations for the album.

If you have heard/own any previous releases by King Django, you will notice that each one if pretty different from each other. Roots Tonic is no exception to this. In all honesty, this is my favourite album of the bunch. A close second would be King Django meets the Scrucialists.

King Django pulls influences from all over on this album, and so one can’t label it as just a “ska” album. It is primarily reggae based with what I’d call “dancehall” styled vocals.

My favourite track on the disc is Too Many Things. The soft sounding trumpet throughout the song is what does it for me. It isn’t just the trumpet though; the vocals are more appealing to me in this song. Another one of my favourites is Rock and Come In. The way Dr. Ring Ding, and King Django go back and forth works out really way. The backing instrumentals are sure to make you groove to the beat. I could definitely see this being a hit at a live show, with both vocalists go back and forth, and the crowd singing along to “Rock and Come In” at the various points throughout the song. The backing vocals in Lyrics Architect are a really nice touch to the faster, more aggressive sounding vocals in this song.

One thing this disc has done has made me appreciate the dancehall sound more. Maybe I should give JFK and the Conspirators another try.

Standout tracks: Fistful a Riddim, Too Many Things, No Trail, Rock and Come In, New York Neighbors, Wayfarer’s Prayer

I feel this disc proves Django’s material is just as impressive as his resume. - 4thwave.ca


After taking a quick look at the liner notes as I gave the CD a listen for the first time, I was blown away by the line-up he got for the album. It was a who’s who of the New York and New Jersey ska scene. With the likes of Victor Ruggiero and Agent J from The Slackers, Victor Rice, Sugar Minott, Dr. Ring Ding, Rocker T, Obi Fernandez from Westbound Train, Dave Hahn from David Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7, and Dub is a Weapon. The list goes on and on. It definitely makes for some high expectations for the album.

If you have heard/own any previous releases by King Django, you will notice that each one if pretty different from each other. Roots Tonic is no exception to this. In all honesty, this is my favourite album of the bunch. A close second would be King Django meets the Scrucialists.

King Django pulls influences from all over on this album, and so one can’t label it as just a “ska” album. It is primarily reggae based with what I’d call “dancehall” styled vocals.

My favourite track on the disc is Too Many Things. The soft sounding trumpet throughout the song is what does it for me. It isn’t just the trumpet though; the vocals are more appealing to me in this song. Another one of my favourites is Rock and Come In. The way Dr. Ring Ding, and King Django go back and forth works out really way. The backing instrumentals are sure to make you groove to the beat. I could definitely see this being a hit at a live show, with both vocalists go back and forth, and the crowd singing along to “Rock and Come In” at the various points throughout the song. The backing vocals in Lyrics Architect are a really nice touch to the faster, more aggressive sounding vocals in this song.

One thing this disc has done has made me appreciate the dancehall sound more. Maybe I should give JFK and the Conspirators another try.

Standout tracks: Fistful a Riddim, Too Many Things, No Trail, Rock and Come In, New York Neighbors, Wayfarer’s Prayer

I feel this disc proves Django’s material is just as impressive as his resume. - 4thwave.ca


On May 12th Version City hosted Stubborn Records 20th Anniversary Party at The Knitting factory in Brooklyn. Stubborn Recs. founder/owner Jeff “King Django” Baker assembled a line up of 8 bands featuring many Stubborn Alumni, plus some new up and coming bands for what was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long long time.

Among the bands that played were The Heavy Beat from Allentown PA, The Rudie Crew from Brooklyn NY (with special guest Vinny Nobile of Bim Skala Bim and The Pilfers), King Django Septet (along with special guest Kevin Batchelor from The Skatalites), The Radiation Kings, Hub City Stompers from New Brunswick NJ, and Brooklyn native Rocker T backed by Philadelphia’s The Snails. NYC’s Skinnerbox even re-united on stage for the event, which was my personal highlight of the night. It was the first time I’d seen them since the summer of ’96. After Skinnerbox, the show concluded with NYC’s Reggay Lords (ft Agent Jay of The Slackers).

All in all it was a great night filled with great music, making the 5 hrs of driving back and forth from Philly so worthwhile. I could probably go on and on about each bands set and how great they all were, but I would be typing for the next 3 days. - Ska Crazy


On May 12th Version City hosted Stubborn Records 20th Anniversary Party at The Knitting factory in Brooklyn. Stubborn Recs. founder/owner Jeff “King Django” Baker assembled a line up of 8 bands featuring many Stubborn Alumni, plus some new up and coming bands for what was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long long time.

Among the bands that played were The Heavy Beat from Allentown PA, The Rudie Crew from Brooklyn NY (with special guest Vinny Nobile of Bim Skala Bim and The Pilfers), King Django Septet (along with special guest Kevin Batchelor from The Skatalites), The Radiation Kings, Hub City Stompers from New Brunswick NJ, and Brooklyn native Rocker T backed by Philadelphia’s The Snails. NYC’s Skinnerbox even re-united on stage for the event, which was my personal highlight of the night. It was the first time I’d seen them since the summer of ’96. After Skinnerbox, the show concluded with NYC’s Reggay Lords (ft Agent Jay of The Slackers).

All in all it was a great night filled with great music, making the 5 hrs of driving back and forth from Philly so worthwhile. I could probably go on and on about each bands set and how great they all were, but I would be typing for the next 3 days. - Ska Crazy


As is often the case when a non-rock genre finds its way into the mainstream, the "pure" representation of this "new" genre is often still far from the ears of the general public. Though certain hybrid sounds, which combine this non-traditional element with rock music may gain some notoriety, it is rare that the "authentic" groups gain as much credit. This has perhaps been no more true than when one considers the seemingly strange emergence of ska and reggae-styled music within the mainstream music during the mid-1990's. Groups like No Doubt, Save Ferris, and Reel Big Fish were suddenly giving the general public the impression that "this" is how ska music sounded, though the reality is a far cry from their musical approaches. Thankfully, there were a number of bands around the world that were staying true to the amazing mixture of sounds that becomes the reggae-ska bounce, and many of the best were a part of Stubborn Records. Among this amazing stable of bands, there was perhaps none better than the aptly named and created Stubborn All-Stars, and in many ways, one can see them as a "super group" of New York based musicians. Their 1997 record, Back With A New Batch, remains one of the most vibrant and enjoyable ever recorded, and one can find The Stubborn All-Stars at their best on the song, "Pick Yourself Up."

In many ways, the fact that The Stubborn All-Stars create such brilliant music should come as little surprise, as the group lives up to their name, containing some of the finest SKA musicians on the planet. King Django combines pieces of his former band, Skinnerbox, as well as a handful of other amazing musicians of the genre. Django's trombone, along with the trumpet of Rolf Langsjoen (Skinnerbox) and the saxophone of Dave Hillyard (The Slackers), gives The Stubborn All-Stars one of the most potent and bright horn sections in recent history. From the moment that "Pick Yourself Up" begins, it is the horns which completely captivate the listener, and it is the powerful brightness to their sound that makes the song so addictive. It is the deep groove found within the various horn lines which give the track an amazing amount of depth, and yet the track itself is driven by the fantastic rhythm that lies beneath this element. Combining guitars from David Hahn (Skinnerbox/The Slackers) and "Agent J" (Agent 99), along with the rhythm section consisting of shared basswork from Victor Rice and Sheldon Gregg alongside drummer Eddie Ocampo, the group effort prove to be the key element in the fantastic sound of The Stubborn All-Stars. It is the way that these light touches are able to exude so much positive energy that sets this song so far apart from other bands of the time, and yet "Pick Yourself Up" is as timeless a song as one can find anywhere.

Serving as a perfect mirror to the overall mood of the music, the vocals form King Django are inspiring and were clearly recorded in a studio environment that was exceptionally positive. It is the fact that the singing works so seamlessly with the music that vaults "Pick Yourself Up" to a level beyond their peers, and you can easily feel how King Django was singing with the overall mood and spirit of the song, as opposed to a written-out cadence or rhythm. Furthermore, due to the nature of his voice and the way he delivers the lines, it is difficult not to sing along with a track like "Pick Yourself Up," and this is reinforced by the superb lyrics contained within the song. In many ways, this track represents one of the core elements of the ska sound, and that is the uplifting, almost prideful lyrical approach so many bands took over the years. Throughout the song, King Django reminds the listener that all throughout life, there will be many obstacles, but if one perseveres through them, there is greatness and happiness on the other side. However, it is within the lines, "...nobody's gonna give you no free ride...you've got to work real hard to have something of your own..." where one can find the core of the bands' message; encouraging the listener to take charge of their own life and the idea that "nothing beats honest, hard work."

Throughout the 1990's, a number of different genre titles were slapped on to popular music that, while perhaps not really what the genre was, gained the label simply because it was the "closest." While this may have made it easier for listeners to classify the style of music, the truth of the matter is that in many cases, this "new" sound was not representative of what the genre actually contained. During the middle of that decade, the term ska was being thrown around to nearly any band that incorporated horns into their music, but were not "retro-swing." Such laziness in genre identification did have one positive effect: the "true" bands of the genre became far more obvious. With their phenomenal music, amazing lyrics, and one of the most mesmerizing and overall enjoyable sounds in music history, The Stubborn All- - The Daily Guru


As is often the case when a non-rock genre finds its way into the mainstream, the "pure" representation of this "new" genre is often still far from the ears of the general public. Though certain hybrid sounds, which combine this non-traditional element with rock music may gain some notoriety, it is rare that the "authentic" groups gain as much credit. This has perhaps been no more true than when one considers the seemingly strange emergence of ska and reggae-styled music within the mainstream music during the mid-1990's. Groups like No Doubt, Save Ferris, and Reel Big Fish were suddenly giving the general public the impression that "this" is how ska music sounded, though the reality is a far cry from their musical approaches. Thankfully, there were a number of bands around the world that were staying true to the amazing mixture of sounds that becomes the reggae-ska bounce, and many of the best were a part of Stubborn Records. Among this amazing stable of bands, there was perhaps none better than the aptly named and created Stubborn All-Stars, and in many ways, one can see them as a "super group" of New York based musicians. Their 1997 record, Back With A New Batch, remains one of the most vibrant and enjoyable ever recorded, and one can find The Stubborn All-Stars at their best on the song, "Pick Yourself Up."

In many ways, the fact that The Stubborn All-Stars create such brilliant music should come as little surprise, as the group lives up to their name, containing some of the finest SKA musicians on the planet. King Django combines pieces of his former band, Skinnerbox, as well as a handful of other amazing musicians of the genre. Django's trombone, along with the trumpet of Rolf Langsjoen (Skinnerbox) and the saxophone of Dave Hillyard (The Slackers), gives The Stubborn All-Stars one of the most potent and bright horn sections in recent history. From the moment that "Pick Yourself Up" begins, it is the horns which completely captivate the listener, and it is the powerful brightness to their sound that makes the song so addictive. It is the deep groove found within the various horn lines which give the track an amazing amount of depth, and yet the track itself is driven by the fantastic rhythm that lies beneath this element. Combining guitars from David Hahn (Skinnerbox/The Slackers) and "Agent J" (Agent 99), along with the rhythm section consisting of shared basswork from Victor Rice and Sheldon Gregg alongside drummer Eddie Ocampo, the group effort prove to be the key element in the fantastic sound of The Stubborn All-Stars. It is the way that these light touches are able to exude so much positive energy that sets this song so far apart from other bands of the time, and yet "Pick Yourself Up" is as timeless a song as one can find anywhere.

Serving as a perfect mirror to the overall mood of the music, the vocals form King Django are inspiring and were clearly recorded in a studio environment that was exceptionally positive. It is the fact that the singing works so seamlessly with the music that vaults "Pick Yourself Up" to a level beyond their peers, and you can easily feel how King Django was singing with the overall mood and spirit of the song, as opposed to a written-out cadence or rhythm. Furthermore, due to the nature of his voice and the way he delivers the lines, it is difficult not to sing along with a track like "Pick Yourself Up," and this is reinforced by the superb lyrics contained within the song. In many ways, this track represents one of the core elements of the ska sound, and that is the uplifting, almost prideful lyrical approach so many bands took over the years. Throughout the song, King Django reminds the listener that all throughout life, there will be many obstacles, but if one perseveres through them, there is greatness and happiness on the other side. However, it is within the lines, "...nobody's gonna give you no free ride...you've got to work real hard to have something of your own..." where one can find the core of the bands' message; encouraging the listener to take charge of their own life and the idea that "nothing beats honest, hard work."

Throughout the 1990's, a number of different genre titles were slapped on to popular music that, while perhaps not really what the genre was, gained the label simply because it was the "closest." While this may have made it easier for listeners to classify the style of music, the truth of the matter is that in many cases, this "new" sound was not representative of what the genre actually contained. During the middle of that decade, the term ska was being thrown around to nearly any band that incorporated horns into their music, but were not "retro-swing." Such laziness in genre identification did have one positive effect: the "true" bands of the genre became far more obvious. With their phenomenal music, amazing lyrics, and one of the most mesmerizing and overall enjoyable sounds in music history, The Stubborn All- - The Daily Guru


King Django runs the independent Stubborn Records label, and holds court in Version City—his recording studio based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Django has been committed to keeping up the flow with his monthly Version City parties at New York City’s Knitting Factory, and has just put the fi nishing touches on a new reggae project that explores his Jewish roots.

What’s the encapsulated history of Stubborn Records?

I started the label in 1992 after becoming disillusioned with the industry. I was pretty young and naïve, and a lot of people were promising me all kinds of things that always seemed to cancel each other out and leave me with nothing. I had always been inspired by people like Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid and Lee Perry, so I took it as a great opportunity to start my own label. The first release was my band Skinnerbox’s first full-length CD Tales Of The Red, and after that I just kept releasing vinyl and CDs, with the emphasis on traditional ska and reggae, and particularly on recordings by my friends and associates.

You recently started releasing 45s with your new label and the Jamaica-based Freedom Sounds. How did that come about?

I started the Version City label last year in partnership with Bertram Brown, who has been running Freedom Sounds since the 1970s. I’ve always been a big fan of “version” and riddim-based music and deejay styles. I had a great track that I produced with Johnny Osbourne over one of my Version City Rockers riddims called “Fortitude.” It’s very roots reggae, and I was looking for someone to co-release it with me who could get it into more of the roots reggae circles. I brought the tune down to Kingston and played it for Mr. Brown, and we pretty much started the label that day. Since then we’ve both been voicing artists on that riddim as well as a few other Version City and Freedoms Sounds riddims. They’re all new recordings featuring old-school artists as well as up-and-comers from Jamaica, New York, New Jersey and other distant locales.

How important has it been for you guys to keep the scene alive? It seemed like it was thriving in the ’90s and then it took a nosedive—but Stubborn has seen it through.

Ska and reggae is what inspired me to become a musician and producer, so it will always be very important to me. I think the music that got popular in the ’90s as “ska” had very little to do with the music that we release
- Global Rhythm


King Django runs the independent Stubborn Records label, and holds court in Version City—his recording studio based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Django has been committed to keeping up the flow with his monthly Version City parties at New York City’s Knitting Factory, and has just put the fi nishing touches on a new reggae project that explores his Jewish roots.

What’s the encapsulated history of Stubborn Records?

I started the label in 1992 after becoming disillusioned with the industry. I was pretty young and naïve, and a lot of people were promising me all kinds of things that always seemed to cancel each other out and leave me with nothing. I had always been inspired by people like Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid and Lee Perry, so I took it as a great opportunity to start my own label. The first release was my band Skinnerbox’s first full-length CD Tales Of The Red, and after that I just kept releasing vinyl and CDs, with the emphasis on traditional ska and reggae, and particularly on recordings by my friends and associates.

You recently started releasing 45s with your new label and the Jamaica-based Freedom Sounds. How did that come about?

I started the Version City label last year in partnership with Bertram Brown, who has been running Freedom Sounds since the 1970s. I’ve always been a big fan of “version” and riddim-based music and deejay styles. I had a great track that I produced with Johnny Osbourne over one of my Version City Rockers riddims called “Fortitude.” It’s very roots reggae, and I was looking for someone to co-release it with me who could get it into more of the roots reggae circles. I brought the tune down to Kingston and played it for Mr. Brown, and we pretty much started the label that day. Since then we’ve both been voicing artists on that riddim as well as a few other Version City and Freedoms Sounds riddims. They’re all new recordings featuring old-school artists as well as up-and-comers from Jamaica, New York, New Jersey and other distant locales.

How important has it been for you guys to keep the scene alive? It seemed like it was thriving in the ’90s and then it took a nosedive—but Stubborn has seen it through.

Ska and reggae is what inspired me to become a musician and producer, so it will always be very important to me. I think the music that got popular in the ’90s as “ska” had very little to do with the music that we release
- Global Rhythm


Editor's note: With Stubborn Records' 20th Anniversary Show coming up on May 12th at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn (see details on the poster below), we thought we'd better check in with musician, songwriter, engineer, producer, and label-head King Django (AKA Jeff Baker) and pick his mind regarding all that has gone down over the past two decades at Stubborn. (Thanks and respect to King Django for taking the time to answer all of our questions!)

The Duff Guide to Ska: When you created "Rude Awakening," the first skazine in NYC back in 1984, could you ever have imagined that you'd be here all of these years later, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stubborn Records?

King Django: Actually, no! Looking back and realizing that at that time, I was not even a musician, I definitely could never have imagined the wild ride that was to come. I feel pretty lucky and blessed having been able to learn so much from some really great musicians including my contemporaries and many of the artists who were my heroes in my youth.

DGTS: The label's first release, "Tales of the Red," was from your own band Skinnerbox. So, part of your motivation to get the label up and running was to put out your own records, but what was the label's driving mission for its first decade of existence? What were your initial plans for the first few years and how many of them were you able to realize?

KD: To be honest, I never really had much of a long-range plan. The label was started because we had been jerked around so much trying to get the first Skinnerbox record out. We had a cool offer from a good label and were ready to go with it, but got stars in our eyes due to smoke blown up our collective proverbial orifice by some "industry" types and in the end wound up with nothing. Prince Buster and Coxsone had always been heroes of mine, so I decided we ought to just start putting the records out on our own. All of my "plans" really only involved what projects I wanted to release, and in that light, they were all realized. That being said, there's still a lot of irons in the fire, plenty of tunes here awaiting release.

DGTS: When I was at Moon, I have to admit we were definitely jealous--in an admiring way--of some of the releases that you were putting out. But we also viewed Stubborn's competition as healthy for the scene (and us)--and there were certainly more than enough good bands around to work with (and certainly no single ska label had the resources to put out records for all of them). At the time, how did you view Moon Records--and which of the label's successes did you emulate and which of their missteps did you learn from?

KD: I don't think I actually directly emulated any specific aspects of Moon Records, but I defiinitely do have to give props here to Rob "Bucket" Hingley, who was definitely a big inspiration and an early mentor of mine back in the days before he was called "Bucket." Having been around him from the inception of Moon Records when I was still very young, Rob was really a very direct inspiration for me. He was very helpful and forthcoming, sharing his knowledge of the business at that time.

By the time Stubborn Records was founded, I'd already been working with and around him for about six years. I have a deep respect for what Rob and you all were able to accomplish with Moon. My impression is that because of the rapid growth of the label and the realities of independent distribution at that time there arose a necessity to "fill the pipeline" with product. To meet the quantity requirements, I think the quality control became lax, which of course translated to lower sales at the end of the day, and possibly a ripple effect for the entire genre here in the States. I suppose the main things I took away from that situation were to take it slowly, keep a close watch on the scale of things, keep it real and realistic, and never to make records just for the sake of having more releases. I was really never motivated by trying to get "big" or make loads of money, I just wanted to make good records.

DGTS: What were some of the biggest challenges to running an independent label during the 90s (when people still bought recorded music in physical formats)?

KD: I think the single biggest challenge was navigating the independent distribution network, as mentioned above. Everyone who had an independent label at that time has essentially the same horror stories, just in different sizes. It was pretty easy to get your product into the distribution channels, but actually getting it sold through and collecting any money for it was impossible. It's too much for me to go into the sordid details here, but there were a load of classic tricks and scams perpetrated on the labels during that time.

DGTS: You and I have talked a bit in the past about the difficulties of trying to keep a label going in this era of rampant music piracy (i.e., music "file sharing"). Any thoughts about this that you want to share pub - The Duff Guide to Ska


Editor's note: With Stubborn Records' 20th Anniversary Show coming up on May 12th at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn (see details on the poster below), we thought we'd better check in with musician, songwriter, engineer, producer, and label-head King Django (AKA Jeff Baker) and pick his mind regarding all that has gone down over the past two decades at Stubborn. (Thanks and respect to King Django for taking the time to answer all of our questions!)

The Duff Guide to Ska: When you created "Rude Awakening," the first skazine in NYC back in 1984, could you ever have imagined that you'd be here all of these years later, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stubborn Records?

King Django: Actually, no! Looking back and realizing that at that time, I was not even a musician, I definitely could never have imagined the wild ride that was to come. I feel pretty lucky and blessed having been able to learn so much from some really great musicians including my contemporaries and many of the artists who were my heroes in my youth.

DGTS: The label's first release, "Tales of the Red," was from your own band Skinnerbox. So, part of your motivation to get the label up and running was to put out your own records, but what was the label's driving mission for its first decade of existence? What were your initial plans for the first few years and how many of them were you able to realize?

KD: To be honest, I never really had much of a long-range plan. The label was started because we had been jerked around so much trying to get the first Skinnerbox record out. We had a cool offer from a good label and were ready to go with it, but got stars in our eyes due to smoke blown up our collective proverbial orifice by some "industry" types and in the end wound up with nothing. Prince Buster and Coxsone had always been heroes of mine, so I decided we ought to just start putting the records out on our own. All of my "plans" really only involved what projects I wanted to release, and in that light, they were all realized. That being said, there's still a lot of irons in the fire, plenty of tunes here awaiting release.

DGTS: When I was at Moon, I have to admit we were definitely jealous--in an admiring way--of some of the releases that you were putting out. But we also viewed Stubborn's competition as healthy for the scene (and us)--and there were certainly more than enough good bands around to work with (and certainly no single ska label had the resources to put out records for all of them). At the time, how did you view Moon Records--and which of the label's successes did you emulate and which of their missteps did you learn from?

KD: I don't think I actually directly emulated any specific aspects of Moon Records, but I defiinitely do have to give props here to Rob "Bucket" Hingley, who was definitely a big inspiration and an early mentor of mine back in the days before he was called "Bucket." Having been around him from the inception of Moon Records when I was still very young, Rob was really a very direct inspiration for me. He was very helpful and forthcoming, sharing his knowledge of the business at that time.

By the time Stubborn Records was founded, I'd already been working with and around him for about six years. I have a deep respect for what Rob and you all were able to accomplish with Moon. My impression is that because of the rapid growth of the label and the realities of independent distribution at that time there arose a necessity to "fill the pipeline" with product. To meet the quantity requirements, I think the quality control became lax, which of course translated to lower sales at the end of the day, and possibly a ripple effect for the entire genre here in the States. I suppose the main things I took away from that situation were to take it slowly, keep a close watch on the scale of things, keep it real and realistic, and never to make records just for the sake of having more releases. I was really never motivated by trying to get "big" or make loads of money, I just wanted to make good records.

DGTS: What were some of the biggest challenges to running an independent label during the 90s (when people still bought recorded music in physical formats)?

KD: I think the single biggest challenge was navigating the independent distribution network, as mentioned above. Everyone who had an independent label at that time has essentially the same horror stories, just in different sizes. It was pretty easy to get your product into the distribution channels, but actually getting it sold through and collecting any money for it was impossible. It's too much for me to go into the sordid details here, but there were a load of classic tricks and scams perpetrated on the labels during that time.

DGTS: You and I have talked a bit in the past about the difficulties of trying to keep a label going in this era of rampant music piracy (i.e., music "file sharing"). Any thoughts about this that you want to share pub - The Duff Guide to Ska


King Django (a.k.a. Jeff Baker) is a genre-wide well-known producer and singer since the 80s, and has been a long time contributor to the New York City ska/reggae scene, best known (and critically praised) for his unique reggae/dancehall/ska style.
On his latest, A Simple Thread King Django gathers all of his best solo songs and collaborations with bands - between Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-stars, Roots and Culture (Yiddish reggae band) - and comprises them into one album.

This is King Django at his best -- singing and playing many different instruments. This is truly some exemplary stuff.

To be honest, I have never been a big King Django fan, but this album has me doing a double take, and is leading me to re-examine the entire King Django catalog. Songs such as "Open Season", "Tired of Struggling", and "LKO" are what King Django does best.

If you are more into the reggae-side of ska, King Django is for you. - In Music We Trust


King Django (a.k.a. Jeff Baker) is a genre-wide well-known producer and singer since the 80s, and has been a long time contributor to the New York City ska/reggae scene, best known (and critically praised) for his unique reggae/dancehall/ska style.
On his latest, A Simple Thread King Django gathers all of his best solo songs and collaborations with bands - between Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-stars, Roots and Culture (Yiddish reggae band) - and comprises them into one album.

This is King Django at his best -- singing and playing many different instruments. This is truly some exemplary stuff.

To be honest, I have never been a big King Django fan, but this album has me doing a double take, and is leading me to re-examine the entire King Django catalog. Songs such as "Open Season", "Tired of Struggling", and "LKO" are what King Django does best.

If you are more into the reggae-side of ska, King Django is for you. - In Music We Trust


During Ska's third wave heyday in the mid 90's, a select few rose to the top of the heap and shined as the true innovators and creators of the direction ska was heading. New York's King Django was one of these, a man who could write fast, catchy ska-pop, punkish ska songs, reggae-soul, traditional ska, and everything in between.
His bands, Stubborn All-Stars and Skinnerbox, as well as the countless other projects he was involved with as a producer and back-up musician, including everything that came out of his Version City Studio, redefined the ska sound. When you think about ska in the 90's, King Django is one of the first names that should pop into your head.

With his debut solo album, on Rancid's Tim Armstrong's label, Hellcat Records, King Django once again stretches everyone's expectations of what a ska musician should be, pushing the envelope with a sound that is nothing like he's done before and everything like it.

The opening track, "Reason", blends roaring rock guitars with a traditional ska groove and hooks that seem to come out of nowhere and sweep the ground out from underneath you.

"Kick It Out" has you jumping up and down to a reggae-punk song that just cruises by without a second glance. "Never Try" delves into King Django's soul background, as he soothes you over with a gorgeous soul-ska blend. Then there is "I Got A Ride", a Jamaican pop song that brings to mind sunny beaches and Pina Colada's.

"Chase Pum Pum" is a hot and heavy groove about sex and women, sang in a way that only King Django could pull off, offending some and making others laugh.

"Lies and Rumors" is the album's Long Island Ice Tea. Blending elements of everything else found on the album, throwing in a splash of mixer, and giving you something fresh and new - reggae, soul, heavy grooves, and a slow, simmering pace that will float into your subconscious and find you burning herbs along to the stoned song.

King Django has always been one to write songs you can dance and party with, sit back and get stoned to, or just blast on your stereo for fun, and Reason is no different. His most eclectic, focused album to date, King Django circles the musical globe while his focal points never change. I'll give this an A. - In Music We Trust


During Ska's third wave heyday in the mid 90's, a select few rose to the top of the heap and shined as the true innovators and creators of the direction ska was heading. New York's King Django was one of these, a man who could write fast, catchy ska-pop, punkish ska songs, reggae-soul, traditional ska, and everything in between.
His bands, Stubborn All-Stars and Skinnerbox, as well as the countless other projects he was involved with as a producer and back-up musician, including everything that came out of his Version City Studio, redefined the ska sound. When you think about ska in the 90's, King Django is one of the first names that should pop into your head.

With his debut solo album, on Rancid's Tim Armstrong's label, Hellcat Records, King Django once again stretches everyone's expectations of what a ska musician should be, pushing the envelope with a sound that is nothing like he's done before and everything like it.

The opening track, "Reason", blends roaring rock guitars with a traditional ska groove and hooks that seem to come out of nowhere and sweep the ground out from underneath you.

"Kick It Out" has you jumping up and down to a reggae-punk song that just cruises by without a second glance. "Never Try" delves into King Django's soul background, as he soothes you over with a gorgeous soul-ska blend. Then there is "I Got A Ride", a Jamaican pop song that brings to mind sunny beaches and Pina Colada's.

"Chase Pum Pum" is a hot and heavy groove about sex and women, sang in a way that only King Django could pull off, offending some and making others laugh.

"Lies and Rumors" is the album's Long Island Ice Tea. Blending elements of everything else found on the album, throwing in a splash of mixer, and giving you something fresh and new - reggae, soul, heavy grooves, and a slow, simmering pace that will float into your subconscious and find you burning herbs along to the stoned song.

King Django has always been one to write songs you can dance and party with, sit back and get stoned to, or just blast on your stereo for fun, and Reason is no different. His most eclectic, focused album to date, King Django circles the musical globe while his focal points never change. I'll give this an A. - In Music We Trust


Going to Europe to record with the new Swiss reggae band The Scrucialists, king of the East Coast ska scene, King Django (who has fronted both Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars, as well as played and/or worked with Rancid, The Slackers, and more) delivers his latest solo record. Meets The Scrucialists, a 14-track, political roots-reggae, traditional ska album that also includes a hearty helping of dancehall and dub.
Django has never faded from his love of Jamaican music, and, as such, has grown stronger with each record. While others tried to further incorporate modern styles, Django kept reaching further and further back into history to deliver his original sound. With Meets The Scrucialists King Django stays true to form and delivers one of his best records to date, a record so true to its origins you would swear it was recorded in the 60s.

But, with his unique vision, Django puts a modern spin on it without running everything through a modern filter, ensuring its authenticity, while also making sure it will withstand the test of time, just like his influences.

It's a strong, rhythm-heavy dance record that will make you fall in love with Jamaican music, if you're not already in love with it. - In Music We Trust


Going to Europe to record with the new Swiss reggae band The Scrucialists, king of the East Coast ska scene, King Django (who has fronted both Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars, as well as played and/or worked with Rancid, The Slackers, and more) delivers his latest solo record. Meets The Scrucialists, a 14-track, political roots-reggae, traditional ska album that also includes a hearty helping of dancehall and dub.
Django has never faded from his love of Jamaican music, and, as such, has grown stronger with each record. While others tried to further incorporate modern styles, Django kept reaching further and further back into history to deliver his original sound. With Meets The Scrucialists King Django stays true to form and delivers one of his best records to date, a record so true to its origins you would swear it was recorded in the 60s.

But, with his unique vision, Django puts a modern spin on it without running everything through a modern filter, ensuring its authenticity, while also making sure it will withstand the test of time, just like his influences.

It's a strong, rhythm-heavy dance record that will make you fall in love with Jamaican music, if you're not already in love with it. - In Music We Trust


The wait for a new King Django release has been long but the lyrics architect is still strong!

Four hot new tunes that will have you bouncing off the walls like you were transported back to the Stubborn All Stars days. This ain't no rehashing of the same old sound though. These tunes are hot oven fresh with only the finest ingredients .

Do you remember the song "Really" from King Django Meets The Scrucialists? That song goes from some chilled out reggae tune to uptempo ska with Django's soothing tone reminiscing "When It Was Really Going Down" back in the day on "Avenue A". Maybe you you missed that album or you just plain didn't feel some of those songs? Well here's your chance as another song from that album gets a musical makeover. "I Don't Wanna Work That Hard" gets stirpped down and re-inveted on side B it's called "Tryin To Be Something". This time it's done in true form, with the right sound and of course a touch of Django's unmistakable toasting style

One of the sweetest tracks is "As Tears Go By". Yes The Rolling Stones hit song sounds fantastic put to the rhythm of ska. With that healing ukulele over the percussion and keys you can almost hear the tear drops hit the ground. I'd buy this thing just for this song alone!

The Avenue A EP is like a blend of the Stubborn All Star's Nex Season and King Django's Roots Tonic album. That same crisp authenticity is abundant in all its glory and refined on 10" vinyl no less!

This is King Django at the top of his game.

Side A:
1. Avenue A
2. As Tears Go By

Side B:
1. Hey Bartender
2. Trying to Be Something

The new EP is at press now and should arrive at Stubborn Records HQ January 23rd.
Buy it now for 5 bucks pre-sale at www.stubbornrecords.com and save some dough!

King Django - Fluke Ukulele, Hohner Harmonica, Percussion
Ira Heaps - Bass Guitar
Justin Rothberg - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gregg Mervine - Drums - Music Is Our Occupation


The wait for a new King Django release has been long but the lyrics architect is still strong!

Four hot new tunes that will have you bouncing off the walls like you were transported back to the Stubborn All Stars days. This ain't no rehashing of the same old sound though. These tunes are hot oven fresh with only the finest ingredients .

Do you remember the song "Really" from King Django Meets The Scrucialists? That song goes from some chilled out reggae tune to uptempo ska with Django's soothing tone reminiscing "When It Was Really Going Down" back in the day on "Avenue A". Maybe you you missed that album or you just plain didn't feel some of those songs? Well here's your chance as another song from that album gets a musical makeover. "I Don't Wanna Work That Hard" gets stirpped down and re-inveted on side B it's called "Tryin To Be Something". This time it's done in true form, with the right sound and of course a touch of Django's unmistakable toasting style

One of the sweetest tracks is "As Tears Go By". Yes The Rolling Stones hit song sounds fantastic put to the rhythm of ska. With that healing ukulele over the percussion and keys you can almost hear the tear drops hit the ground. I'd buy this thing just for this song alone!

The Avenue A EP is like a blend of the Stubborn All Star's Nex Season and King Django's Roots Tonic album. That same crisp authenticity is abundant in all its glory and refined on 10" vinyl no less!

This is King Django at the top of his game.

Side A:
1. Avenue A
2. As Tears Go By

Side B:
1. Hey Bartender
2. Trying to Be Something

The new EP is at press now and should arrive at Stubborn Records HQ January 23rd.
Buy it now for 5 bucks pre-sale at www.stubbornrecords.com and save some dough!

King Django - Fluke Ukulele, Hohner Harmonica, Percussion
Ira Heaps - Bass Guitar
Justin Rothberg - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gregg Mervine - Drums - Music Is Our Occupation


by Julio Diaz
In the ska community, few artists have the reputation that Jeff Baker does; yet most ska fans might not even know that name. Baker is far better known as King Django, the frontman and trombonist for two of New York's most acclaimed bands, Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars. In addition, Baker also runs Stubborn Records, which has released a string of high-quality compilations including the phenomenal Roots, Branch, and Stem. He's also known as one of the foremost scholars of ska and other Jamaican music. He's been involved with the music since the beginning of the so-called "third wave," and took the time to talk about it all when we sat down for a while before the New York Ska Mob Tour stop in Tampa.


You started out in the very early days of the New York ska scene, with the Boilers. What was it like back in those days?
It was pretty cool, but there was a lot of violence back then, that ultimately killed that scene. There's still a lot of remnants of that scene kicking around (the current) scene. The main thing at that time that was nicer is that the reggae and the ska were still tightly linked. There was still a lot of Jamaican influence in the ska, and the scenes had a huge overlap. You could go to reggae shows and see the same people you'd hang out with at CBGB's ska shows. I think it was also at lot more insular then, though. I think that the people that were into ska were... there was a smaller amount of people but they were all just totally into it. Now, there's more people that are into it, but it's not like their "scene." I know a lot of kids have problems with that, now, that there's a lot of people that aren't a part if the so-called "ska scene" that are into ska, but I think that's cool.

Speaking of not being totally a part of the ska scene, you also did some time in Murphy's Law...
Yeah, two and a half years in Murphy's Law. I learned a lot, as far as just being on the road, how to deal with being on the road all the time, how to tour on a small budget. In a lot of ways it was a really cool experience, but musically it wasn't really what I wanted to be doing. I made some really good friends in the band, Mike McDermont, (Skinnerbox's) drummer; I got him from our time together in Murphy's Law. So overall, it was definitely a positive thing for me; it was a big learning experience. I learned a lot from the road manager, Jack Flannagan; he was very educational to watch.
So, after you left Murphy's Law you started Skinnerbox?
Skinnerbox actually started before I was in Murphy's Law. Skinnerbox got together in 1989, Christmas of 1988, really, but we never went on tour until January of '95. I don't know why. Skinnerbox has been my main thrust, although Stubborn All-Stars has been picked up on more.

With Skinnerbox you have a really different kind of ska band, where there are a lot of diverse influences outside of just traditional ska and reggae. What caused you to bring all of that together?
When I first started Skinnerbox, I wanted probably something that sounded along the lines of Stubborn All-Stars. Through the people that I met and worked with in the early days of Skinnerbox, I got turned on to a lot of different music, and then being in Murphy's Law and touring with Rancid, I got turned on to a lot of different stuff. Everything that you encounter, along the way, influences you in some way or another. Really, the impetus behind starting Stubborn All-Stars was that Skinnerbox wasn't sounding like what I'd originally envisioned, and while I was enjoying it, I still wanted to do some stuff in a really traditional Jamaican vein.
Why was the new Skinnerbox album, What You Can Do, What You Can't, on Moon Ska Records rather than your own Stubborn Records?
I had some legal complications with Stubborn Records last year, but that's all settled now. I couldn't release any records for about fifteen months. Also, even if I had been able to, I might have done the same thing, because I really needed to get that record out fast, and I thought Moon could do a better job for me than I could do for myself at that time.
Have you heard any flack over the cover of that album [which features a woman apparently having sex with a poodle]?
Not really. Some people have made comments over it. Everyone goes "who's the dog?" (Laughs) Everyone wants to know who the dog is.
Recently, you picked up former Pietasters keyboard player Paul Ackerman as your bass player for Skinnerbox. How did that come about?
We played a gig with the Pietasters in February. It was a two-day ska fest in Pennsylvania. The Pietasters were on the second day, with the Stubborn All-Stars. At the end of the night, Paul was walking around, and he goes "hey, you guys got room in your van?" I said, "why, you goin' to New York?" He said "uhhhh... yeah!" Since then, he hasn't left my side. As soon as he got in the van we started driving, and I noticed a pentagram, drawn in the dust on the windshield. The Stubborn All-Sta - Ink 19


by Julio Diaz
In the ska community, few artists have the reputation that Jeff Baker does; yet most ska fans might not even know that name. Baker is far better known as King Django, the frontman and trombonist for two of New York's most acclaimed bands, Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars. In addition, Baker also runs Stubborn Records, which has released a string of high-quality compilations including the phenomenal Roots, Branch, and Stem. He's also known as one of the foremost scholars of ska and other Jamaican music. He's been involved with the music since the beginning of the so-called "third wave," and took the time to talk about it all when we sat down for a while before the New York Ska Mob Tour stop in Tampa.


You started out in the very early days of the New York ska scene, with the Boilers. What was it like back in those days?
It was pretty cool, but there was a lot of violence back then, that ultimately killed that scene. There's still a lot of remnants of that scene kicking around (the current) scene. The main thing at that time that was nicer is that the reggae and the ska were still tightly linked. There was still a lot of Jamaican influence in the ska, and the scenes had a huge overlap. You could go to reggae shows and see the same people you'd hang out with at CBGB's ska shows. I think it was also at lot more insular then, though. I think that the people that were into ska were... there was a smaller amount of people but they were all just totally into it. Now, there's more people that are into it, but it's not like their "scene." I know a lot of kids have problems with that, now, that there's a lot of people that aren't a part if the so-called "ska scene" that are into ska, but I think that's cool.

Speaking of not being totally a part of the ska scene, you also did some time in Murphy's Law...
Yeah, two and a half years in Murphy's Law. I learned a lot, as far as just being on the road, how to deal with being on the road all the time, how to tour on a small budget. In a lot of ways it was a really cool experience, but musically it wasn't really what I wanted to be doing. I made some really good friends in the band, Mike McDermont, (Skinnerbox's) drummer; I got him from our time together in Murphy's Law. So overall, it was definitely a positive thing for me; it was a big learning experience. I learned a lot from the road manager, Jack Flannagan; he was very educational to watch.
So, after you left Murphy's Law you started Skinnerbox?
Skinnerbox actually started before I was in Murphy's Law. Skinnerbox got together in 1989, Christmas of 1988, really, but we never went on tour until January of '95. I don't know why. Skinnerbox has been my main thrust, although Stubborn All-Stars has been picked up on more.

With Skinnerbox you have a really different kind of ska band, where there are a lot of diverse influences outside of just traditional ska and reggae. What caused you to bring all of that together?
When I first started Skinnerbox, I wanted probably something that sounded along the lines of Stubborn All-Stars. Through the people that I met and worked with in the early days of Skinnerbox, I got turned on to a lot of different music, and then being in Murphy's Law and touring with Rancid, I got turned on to a lot of different stuff. Everything that you encounter, along the way, influences you in some way or another. Really, the impetus behind starting Stubborn All-Stars was that Skinnerbox wasn't sounding like what I'd originally envisioned, and while I was enjoying it, I still wanted to do some stuff in a really traditional Jamaican vein.
Why was the new Skinnerbox album, What You Can Do, What You Can't, on Moon Ska Records rather than your own Stubborn Records?
I had some legal complications with Stubborn Records last year, but that's all settled now. I couldn't release any records for about fifteen months. Also, even if I had been able to, I might have done the same thing, because I really needed to get that record out fast, and I thought Moon could do a better job for me than I could do for myself at that time.
Have you heard any flack over the cover of that album [which features a woman apparently having sex with a poodle]?
Not really. Some people have made comments over it. Everyone goes "who's the dog?" (Laughs) Everyone wants to know who the dog is.
Recently, you picked up former Pietasters keyboard player Paul Ackerman as your bass player for Skinnerbox. How did that come about?
We played a gig with the Pietasters in February. It was a two-day ska fest in Pennsylvania. The Pietasters were on the second day, with the Stubborn All-Stars. At the end of the night, Paul was walking around, and he goes "hey, you guys got room in your van?" I said, "why, you goin' to New York?" He said "uhhhh... yeah!" Since then, he hasn't left my side. As soon as he got in the van we started driving, and I noticed a pentagram, drawn in the dust on the windshield. The Stubborn All-Sta - Ink 19


As many of you know by now, Jeff "King Django" Baker, is the "Original NY Rudeboy." This hard working man has played a big part in, not just the NY Ska scene, but all over the country. Known for his bands Skinnerbox, the Americas answer to Trad-Ska, Stubborn All-Stars, and offcourse The Boilers. He even has his own Ska/Reggae/Dub/Roots label called Stubborn Records, and just built a Verion City Studio, which is a hotbed for Ska/Reggae/and Dub experimentations. A workaholic indeed!
Besides being in Ska/Reggae bands, King Django was once part of a NYHC band, Murphys Law, and he also supported Rancid on their Lallapalooza 96 summer tour tour, playing horn section for them.
Another thing that I like about King Django, is that he always manages to surprise his listeners, not feeding them the same music, but is always looking to pick up on something new. His first release, "Roots & Colture" , which was release on Tripple Crown Records, was done almost entirely in Hebrew, and was a peace of art. Mixing traditional Hebrew songs, with his own.
The new album "Reason," which is his first release on HellCat Records, doesn't fail to incorporate the element of surprise.
I have to tell you the truth, when I was buying the album, I expected it to sound like his older work; instead what I got was an origional album. "Reason" has it all, Ska,Reggae(Dancehall and Dub), Rock, Jungle, Drum n bass, even some Hip-Hop thrown in there. When I first picked it up, I couldn't get into some of the stuff, but with a few listens, the album dragged me in,, and I still can't put it down. King Django programmed all the drumming on this album, as well as programming, sequencing and playing trombone on the album.
The abum begins with the title track, "Reason." Reason begins with heavy guitars, and King Django screaming, then the song evolves into a great Reggae number, with guitar overtones, a great track to start the record with. "Nex Season" begins with some dj scratching provided by Mr. Mandez. The song goes into a drum and bass track, filled with keyboard, and dancehall overtunes. It's a great upbeat track, which gives shoutouts to all his friends. The song "Never Try" is my favorite song on the album. It's a good Roots-Reggae number with heartfelt lyrics about true love, that you can't by fall in love with. "LKO" goes into some jungo beats, with Reggae vox done over them. "Chace Pum Pum" is a great dancehall number with some Jungle thrown in there. "Hastle The Mac" is a great Hip Hop number, with some Keyboards thrown in there, as well as some horns. The combination makes the song very enjoyable to listen to.
King Django comes up with another gem. While a lot of musicians become stale and drop off the face of the earth, King Django remains on top, and keeps on moving forward, like a locomotive feuled by music. Please don't judge the album after one listen, I know it may seem weird to you at first, but with a few listens, you too, will be hooked. I can't wait to see him on his tour. Much love. Alex! - ROCKZONE


As many of you know by now, Jeff "King Django" Baker, is the "Original NY Rudeboy." This hard working man has played a big part in, not just the NY Ska scene, but all over the country. Known for his bands Skinnerbox, the Americas answer to Trad-Ska, Stubborn All-Stars, and offcourse The Boilers. He even has his own Ska/Reggae/Dub/Roots label called Stubborn Records, and just built a Verion City Studio, which is a hotbed for Ska/Reggae/and Dub experimentations. A workaholic indeed!
Besides being in Ska/Reggae bands, King Django was once part of a NYHC band, Murphys Law, and he also supported Rancid on their Lallapalooza 96 summer tour tour, playing horn section for them.
Another thing that I like about King Django, is that he always manages to surprise his listeners, not feeding them the same music, but is always looking to pick up on something new. His first release, "Roots & Colture" , which was release on Tripple Crown Records, was done almost entirely in Hebrew, and was a peace of art. Mixing traditional Hebrew songs, with his own.
The new album "Reason," which is his first release on HellCat Records, doesn't fail to incorporate the element of surprise.
I have to tell you the truth, when I was buying the album, I expected it to sound like his older work; instead what I got was an origional album. "Reason" has it all, Ska,Reggae(Dancehall and Dub), Rock, Jungle, Drum n bass, even some Hip-Hop thrown in there. When I first picked it up, I couldn't get into some of the stuff, but with a few listens, the album dragged me in,, and I still can't put it down. King Django programmed all the drumming on this album, as well as programming, sequencing and playing trombone on the album.
The abum begins with the title track, "Reason." Reason begins with heavy guitars, and King Django screaming, then the song evolves into a great Reggae number, with guitar overtones, a great track to start the record with. "Nex Season" begins with some dj scratching provided by Mr. Mandez. The song goes into a drum and bass track, filled with keyboard, and dancehall overtunes. It's a great upbeat track, which gives shoutouts to all his friends. The song "Never Try" is my favorite song on the album. It's a good Roots-Reggae number with heartfelt lyrics about true love, that you can't by fall in love with. "LKO" goes into some jungo beats, with Reggae vox done over them. "Chace Pum Pum" is a great dancehall number with some Jungle thrown in there. "Hastle The Mac" is a great Hip Hop number, with some Keyboards thrown in there, as well as some horns. The combination makes the song very enjoyable to listen to.
King Django comes up with another gem. While a lot of musicians become stale and drop off the face of the earth, King Django remains on top, and keeps on moving forward, like a locomotive feuled by music. Please don't judge the album after one listen, I know it may seem weird to you at first, but with a few listens, you too, will be hooked. I can't wait to see him on his tour. Much love. Alex! - ROCKZONE


Procurez-vous l'élixir Roots Tonic!

Ce mois-ci, Skarlatine revient sur la sortie du plus récent disque concocté par King Django, distribué au Canada par Bacteria Buffet Records depuis l'automne 2005. L'album, intitulé Roots Tonic, est le remède idéal pour fuir la dépression hivernale et panser ses plaies en attendant l'arrivée du printemps. À se procurer sur-le-champ, il guérit tous les maux.

Héritier de diverses influences comme le dancehall, le ska, le reggae, le rock, la soul, le swing, la musique folk américaine et le klezmer, King Django est un artiste difficile à étiqueter. Sa polyvalence entre les genres de musiques jamaïcaines, punk et R&B est sans commune mesure.

Produit et mixé par King Django aux studio Version City et Taylor Made, la concoction contient du contenu sous pression, composé à 100% de pur extrait de reggae.


Il s'agit de mon premier album de “versions”, et mon premier album solo enregistré dans les studios de Version City depuis Roots and Culture en 1998, écrit King Django en juin 2005. Vous allez peut-être reconnaître quelques riddims, puisqu'ils remontent aux premiers jours du studio. Quelques-uns sont plus récents, d'autres sont utilisés ici pour la première fois.

Musicalement, l'album Roots Tonic (Jump Up Records, 2005) revient au reggae politique et positif de la fin des années soixante-dix et du début des années quatre-vingt, fer de lance des légendaires marques Island, Frontline, Trojan, Heartbeat, On-U Sound et Greensleeves. Le dancehall en était à ses premiers balbutiements et ressemblait encore au reggae, alors qu'il est surtout influencé aujourd'hui par le hip-hop américain et le R&B.

L'écriture aussi s'étale sur une longue période de temps, les plus vieux datant d'environ 1985. De fait, l'écriture est au centre de la démarche artistique de King Django. Les pièces comme «Hard, Hard Thing» ou «Too Many Things» sont de bons exemples du roots rock reggae dont recèle l'enregistrement, alors que «Lyrics Architect» emprunte plutôt au dancehall. Avec Roots Tonic, Django explore ses thèmes de prédilection: Babylone et Sion. La pièce instrumentale «Zion Gates» nous transporte pour un voyage musical dans le temps et l'espace, un reggae de type lounge à consommer confortablement installé dans un sofa, lumière tamisée, atmosphère planante, pendant qu'il est encore permis de griller un cigare dans un club à Montréal!

Celui qui fut le tromboniste de Rancid, des Toasters et de Murphy's Law s'est entouré de nombreux artistes pour son dernier album, dont Dr. Ring Ding au trombone sur «Rock and Come In» et Rocker T sur les pièces «No Trial» et «Wayfarer's Prayer». Il faut aussi mentionner la participation du chanteur de Westbound Train, Obi Fernandez; celle du chanteur des Slackers, Victor Ruggiero et celle du bassiste du New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, Victor Rice, qui a contribué à l'écriture de «Wayfarer's Prayer» et à la musique de «Rock and Come In». La liste est longue, mais il serait impardonnable de ne pas mentionner la performance des vétérans Sugar Minott et Glen Brown aux percussions sur la chansons «Hard, Hard Thing»… - http://www.skarlatine.com


Procurez-vous l'élixir Roots Tonic!

Ce mois-ci, Skarlatine revient sur la sortie du plus récent disque concocté par King Django, distribué au Canada par Bacteria Buffet Records depuis l'automne 2005. L'album, intitulé Roots Tonic, est le remède idéal pour fuir la dépression hivernale et panser ses plaies en attendant l'arrivée du printemps. À se procurer sur-le-champ, il guérit tous les maux.

Héritier de diverses influences comme le dancehall, le ska, le reggae, le rock, la soul, le swing, la musique folk américaine et le klezmer, King Django est un artiste difficile à étiqueter. Sa polyvalence entre les genres de musiques jamaïcaines, punk et R&B est sans commune mesure.

Produit et mixé par King Django aux studio Version City et Taylor Made, la concoction contient du contenu sous pression, composé à 100% de pur extrait de reggae.


Il s'agit de mon premier album de “versions”, et mon premier album solo enregistré dans les studios de Version City depuis Roots and Culture en 1998, écrit King Django en juin 2005. Vous allez peut-être reconnaître quelques riddims, puisqu'ils remontent aux premiers jours du studio. Quelques-uns sont plus récents, d'autres sont utilisés ici pour la première fois.

Musicalement, l'album Roots Tonic (Jump Up Records, 2005) revient au reggae politique et positif de la fin des années soixante-dix et du début des années quatre-vingt, fer de lance des légendaires marques Island, Frontline, Trojan, Heartbeat, On-U Sound et Greensleeves. Le dancehall en était à ses premiers balbutiements et ressemblait encore au reggae, alors qu'il est surtout influencé aujourd'hui par le hip-hop américain et le R&B.

L'écriture aussi s'étale sur une longue période de temps, les plus vieux datant d'environ 1985. De fait, l'écriture est au centre de la démarche artistique de King Django. Les pièces comme «Hard, Hard Thing» ou «Too Many Things» sont de bons exemples du roots rock reggae dont recèle l'enregistrement, alors que «Lyrics Architect» emprunte plutôt au dancehall. Avec Roots Tonic, Django explore ses thèmes de prédilection: Babylone et Sion. La pièce instrumentale «Zion Gates» nous transporte pour un voyage musical dans le temps et l'espace, un reggae de type lounge à consommer confortablement installé dans un sofa, lumière tamisée, atmosphère planante, pendant qu'il est encore permis de griller un cigare dans un club à Montréal!

Celui qui fut le tromboniste de Rancid, des Toasters et de Murphy's Law s'est entouré de nombreux artistes pour son dernier album, dont Dr. Ring Ding au trombone sur «Rock and Come In» et Rocker T sur les pièces «No Trial» et «Wayfarer's Prayer». Il faut aussi mentionner la participation du chanteur de Westbound Train, Obi Fernandez; celle du chanteur des Slackers, Victor Ruggiero et celle du bassiste du New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, Victor Rice, qui a contribué à l'écriture de «Wayfarer's Prayer» et à la musique de «Rock and Come In». La liste est longue, mais il serait impardonnable de ne pas mentionner la performance des vétérans Sugar Minott et Glen Brown aux percussions sur la chansons «Hard, Hard Thing»… - http://www.skarlatine.com


King Django has been a mainstay of New York's traditional ska scene for close to two decades now, and has recorded with a variety of national and international artists over the course of his career. This album has its origins in sessions he recorded in 2003 with a Swiss ska and reggae band called the Scrucialists; German dancehall legend Dr. Ring Ding joined in as well on several songs, and for its American release, the Jump Up label added a couple of dancehall-flavored remixes to the generally rootsy reggae and ska program. Django has always been a good singer but an exquisite toaster, and true to form, it's the numbers on which he rides the rhythm in a deejay style that really shine on this program, especially the two "Feast" and the brilliant "Dancehall Rock" on which he is joined by the formidable Dr. Ring Ding. But the showcase-style "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" is a solid winner as well, as are his cover version of the Cure's "Six Different Ways" and the solidly chugging "Troddin' Along," which seems to be built on a homemade variant of the "Ring the Alarm" rhythm. This copy includes, as a bonus disc, a ten-year retrospective of the impressive Jump Up catalog. - All Music Guide


King Django has been a mainstay of New York's traditional ska scene for close to two decades now, and has recorded with a variety of national and international artists over the course of his career. This album has its origins in sessions he recorded in 2003 with a Swiss ska and reggae band called the Scrucialists; German dancehall legend Dr. Ring Ding joined in as well on several songs, and for its American release, the Jump Up label added a couple of dancehall-flavored remixes to the generally rootsy reggae and ska program. Django has always been a good singer but an exquisite toaster, and true to form, it's the numbers on which he rides the rhythm in a deejay style that really shine on this program, especially the two "Feast" and the brilliant "Dancehall Rock" on which he is joined by the formidable Dr. Ring Ding. But the showcase-style "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" is a solid winner as well, as are his cover version of the Cure's "Six Different Ways" and the solidly chugging "Troddin' Along," which seems to be built on a homemade variant of the "Ring the Alarm" rhythm. This copy includes, as a bonus disc, a ten-year retrospective of the impressive Jump Up catalog. - All Music Guide


Wow. It's at exactly 4 tracks in to "A Single Thread", the title track, that you have to do three things, 1: turn it up 2: take a step back to say "holy wowfuck" and 3: start listening even more intently (as if you weren't gripped excited and laughing for joy from the very beginning). As the album progresses, words fail. This is unclassifyable, ineffable. I therefore shall talk about the imprint of the album on my memory rather than the album itself, for to feel like I'm talking about the sounds alone is like trying to describe water. We all know it's the most amazing thing on the earth, but you can never do it justice, you just drink it, encourage others to drink it, and feel it doing amazing things to you. So, the imprint: I feel cleansed. I have taken a journey. I have discovered one of my new favourite artists. I feel an incredible zest for life. I feel like life has given me a gift. Sorry this isn't much of an objective review, but holy wowfuck. Just fuckin' get this album. King Django - A Single Thread. Ok I'll throw words at you but it's not gonna do the sounds justice... Sparkle magic glowstick usurped by tribal midgets cute and funny laughing at the sky ploughing fields on temperate days surrounded by palms glorious sunshine amazing lyrics don't even feel the need to have sex. Complete. Joy. No moment of reflection, churning flutes and shakers through a monkey-grinder's organ being played by a cat, dog and rat who love each other with the intellect of stephen hawking the pride of a lion the savannah hosting a party sword fighting on a pirate ship the carribean is a myth compared to the reality that exists inside your head when you listen to this album. I'm not even on drugs. I still don't feel the need to have sex, maybe not ever again. Joy. Complete. Amazing. Listen. Then listen again. Holy wowfuck. - Gus Reviews


Wow. It's at exactly 4 tracks in to "A Single Thread", the title track, that you have to do three things, 1: turn it up 2: take a step back to say "holy wowfuck" and 3: start listening even more intently (as if you weren't gripped excited and laughing for joy from the very beginning). As the album progresses, words fail. This is unclassifyable, ineffable. I therefore shall talk about the imprint of the album on my memory rather than the album itself, for to feel like I'm talking about the sounds alone is like trying to describe water. We all know it's the most amazing thing on the earth, but you can never do it justice, you just drink it, encourage others to drink it, and feel it doing amazing things to you. So, the imprint: I feel cleansed. I have taken a journey. I have discovered one of my new favourite artists. I feel an incredible zest for life. I feel like life has given me a gift. Sorry this isn't much of an objective review, but holy wowfuck. Just fuckin' get this album. King Django - A Single Thread. Ok I'll throw words at you but it's not gonna do the sounds justice... Sparkle magic glowstick usurped by tribal midgets cute and funny laughing at the sky ploughing fields on temperate days surrounded by palms glorious sunshine amazing lyrics don't even feel the need to have sex. Complete. Joy. No moment of reflection, churning flutes and shakers through a monkey-grinder's organ being played by a cat, dog and rat who love each other with the intellect of stephen hawking the pride of a lion the savannah hosting a party sword fighting on a pirate ship the carribean is a myth compared to the reality that exists inside your head when you listen to this album. I'm not even on drugs. I still don't feel the need to have sex, maybe not ever again. Joy. Complete. Amazing. Listen. Then listen again. Holy wowfuck. - Gus Reviews


By Brent Hagerman
Roots Tonic is King Django’s ragamuffin cure-all for exasperated reggae fans disheartened with the hip-hop direction of much of modern reggae; and what a tasty tonic it is. Django’s Version City studio — known for everything from reggae to punk to Klezmer — plays a large part in this release because many tracks are versions of riddims from the studio’s decade-long history, and Django has always embraced the Jamaican practice of versioning a song. As such, the album is organic, fun and heavily rooted in the era when natty culture was giving way to dancehall riddims. The cross pollination of these two sounds is what many tracks are based on here but there’s also the addition of the excitement of the late ’80s New York scene — check out the horns on "In This Time” and the lyrics on "New York Neighbors” — and even the current European roots revival. This diversity keeps the tracklisting stimulating and the guest list, which includes Germany’s Dr. Ring Ding with his meaty back and forth with Django on "Rock and Come In,” members of the Slackers and even Jamaican singing sensation Sugar Minott on percussion, giving a cooperative feel to the studio and Django’s solo material. Despite the sweetness in his singing voice Django can be an excellent and forceful toaster and the album’s strongest tracks, like "Fistful a Riddim” and "Lyrics Architect,” let him show off in style and owe a creative debt to that other great New York deejay, Shinehead. - Exclaim.ca


By Brent Hagerman
Roots Tonic is King Django’s ragamuffin cure-all for exasperated reggae fans disheartened with the hip-hop direction of much of modern reggae; and what a tasty tonic it is. Django’s Version City studio — known for everything from reggae to punk to Klezmer — plays a large part in this release because many tracks are versions of riddims from the studio’s decade-long history, and Django has always embraced the Jamaican practice of versioning a song. As such, the album is organic, fun and heavily rooted in the era when natty culture was giving way to dancehall riddims. The cross pollination of these two sounds is what many tracks are based on here but there’s also the addition of the excitement of the late ’80s New York scene — check out the horns on "In This Time” and the lyrics on "New York Neighbors” — and even the current European roots revival. This diversity keeps the tracklisting stimulating and the guest list, which includes Germany’s Dr. Ring Ding with his meaty back and forth with Django on "Rock and Come In,” members of the Slackers and even Jamaican singing sensation Sugar Minott on percussion, giving a cooperative feel to the studio and Django’s solo material. Despite the sweetness in his singing voice Django can be an excellent and forceful toaster and the album’s strongest tracks, like "Fistful a Riddim” and "Lyrics Architect,” let him show off in style and owe a creative debt to that other great New York deejay, Shinehead. - Exclaim.ca


Now this is what I had in mind when King Django put out his highly anticipated solo album, Reason, on Hellcat. Reason was a disappointment for many, but King Django meets the Scrucialists, an appropriately named collaboration between Django and Switzerland’s ska/reggae band the Scrucialists, makes up for it. More laid back than Reason and with less of a killer edge and no lyrics about how women can’t resist him, the album moves along at a slow tempo. Django also uses the format to utilise the more soulful parts of his vocal range, while still letting lose on the dancehall tip in a couple songs accompanied by Germany’s Dr. Ring Ding. With King Django we finally get the album that many thought his Hellcat debut would be and it is a must for fans of other Django projects such as Skinnerbox, the Stubborn All-Stars, and his brief work with the Slackers. - Exclaim.ca


Now this is what I had in mind when King Django put out his highly anticipated solo album, Reason, on Hellcat. Reason was a disappointment for many, but King Django meets the Scrucialists, an appropriately named collaboration between Django and Switzerland’s ska/reggae band the Scrucialists, makes up for it. More laid back than Reason and with less of a killer edge and no lyrics about how women can’t resist him, the album moves along at a slow tempo. Django also uses the format to utilise the more soulful parts of his vocal range, while still letting lose on the dancehall tip in a couple songs accompanied by Germany’s Dr. Ring Ding. With King Django we finally get the album that many thought his Hellcat debut would be and it is a must for fans of other Django projects such as Skinnerbox, the Stubborn All-Stars, and his brief work with the Slackers. - Exclaim.ca


2009
10" EP

If you were to accuse any ska musician of having made a deal with the devil--his/her soul in exchange for the unflagging gift of ace songwriting and performing--King Django would certainly be on the short list. He's been on the ska scene since 1985--over a quarter of a century, yo!--and his four-track Avenue A EP is yet another superb entry in his already amazing and prodigious canon.

The title track is a breezily nostalgic ska tune that has Django pining for the early days of the NYC scene, when a major rude boy hangout--right near Blanche's bar--was the stretch of Avenue A ("black, white, and Asian skinheads out in the streets") at the edge of Alphabet City that ran alongside the then notorious drug market and homeless encampment known as Tompkins Square Park: "Prince Buster was blaring from the boombox on the roof of the car/Bob Marley, The Clash, The Jam, and The Specials/Only cross Avenue B just to cop some 'D'--that's "Downtown"/only enter the park if you had to pee/That's when it was really/Back when it was really/Back then it was really going down." It was kind of dirty and sometimes definitely dangerous--but the funky, pre-gentrification/Guiliani, anything-goes East Village of the 80s was inexpensive, diverse, and full of artists, musicians, and all kinds of freaks. It was the perfect place to spawn and nurture the ska subculture. The loss of this tight-knit scene, his youth, and a city that is no longer recognizable is palpable on the gorgeously bittersweet cover of The Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" (key lyric: "I sit and watch the children play/Doin' things I used to do/They think are new").

On the flip side, you'll find a spirited cover of Floyd Dixon's jump blues tune "Hey, Bartender" (you might also be familiar with Laurel Aitken's cover of this track from The Blue Beat Years album), which lightens the mood. "Trying to Be Something" has a mean, strutting reggae groove that matches the defiant tone of the lyrics ("I don't want to plot/and I don't want to scheme/and I don't want to plan/said I only want to dream/I don't want to calculate my every movement...")--Django "doesn't want to work that hard," as wisdom through experience tells him that he has to be who he is; there is no other choice. And for that, we should be very grateful.

Time to buy or bust out the turntable for this one, kids.

The Duff Guide to Ska Grade: A - Duff Guide to Ska


2009
10" EP

If you were to accuse any ska musician of having made a deal with the devil--his/her soul in exchange for the unflagging gift of ace songwriting and performing--King Django would certainly be on the short list. He's been on the ska scene since 1985--over a quarter of a century, yo!--and his four-track Avenue A EP is yet another superb entry in his already amazing and prodigious canon.

The title track is a breezily nostalgic ska tune that has Django pining for the early days of the NYC scene, when a major rude boy hangout--right near Blanche's bar--was the stretch of Avenue A ("black, white, and Asian skinheads out in the streets") at the edge of Alphabet City that ran alongside the then notorious drug market and homeless encampment known as Tompkins Square Park: "Prince Buster was blaring from the boombox on the roof of the car/Bob Marley, The Clash, The Jam, and The Specials/Only cross Avenue B just to cop some 'D'--that's "Downtown"/only enter the park if you had to pee/That's when it was really/Back when it was really/Back then it was really going down." It was kind of dirty and sometimes definitely dangerous--but the funky, pre-gentrification/Guiliani, anything-goes East Village of the 80s was inexpensive, diverse, and full of artists, musicians, and all kinds of freaks. It was the perfect place to spawn and nurture the ska subculture. The loss of this tight-knit scene, his youth, and a city that is no longer recognizable is palpable on the gorgeously bittersweet cover of The Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" (key lyric: "I sit and watch the children play/Doin' things I used to do/They think are new").

On the flip side, you'll find a spirited cover of Floyd Dixon's jump blues tune "Hey, Bartender" (you might also be familiar with Laurel Aitken's cover of this track from The Blue Beat Years album), which lightens the mood. "Trying to Be Something" has a mean, strutting reggae groove that matches the defiant tone of the lyrics ("I don't want to plot/and I don't want to scheme/and I don't want to plan/said I only want to dream/I don't want to calculate my every movement...")--Django "doesn't want to work that hard," as wisdom through experience tells him that he has to be who he is; there is no other choice. And for that, we should be very grateful.

Time to buy or bust out the turntable for this one, kids.

The Duff Guide to Ska Grade: A - Duff Guide to Ska


King Django at Propaganda 6/9, Monterey Club 6/10
A A AComments (0) By Arielle Castillo Thursday, Jun 9 2011

Location Info
Map data ©2012 - Terms of Use

Propaganda
6 S. J St.
Lake Worth, FL 33460 Category: Bars/Clubs Region: Out of Town Photos
2 user reviews
Write A Review
8


The Monterey Club
2608 S. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 Category: Bars/Clubs Region: Fort Lauderdale Photos
Details
King Django With Spred the Dub and the Ruins. 8 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth. Age 18 and up. Tickets cost $5. Call 561-547-7273, or click here. Also 9 p.m. Friday, June 10, with the Methodaires and Askultura at Monterey Club, 2608 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $5 for those age 18 to 20. Click here.
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More About
Jeff BakerBrooklyn (New York City)
The one-man powerhouse born Jeff Baker but known in musical circles as King Django is one of the most influential Americans in ska, full stop. In the '80s and '90s, he — along with a handful of other figures like the Toasters' Rob "Bucket" Hingley — was responsible for bringing the originally Jamaican sound to the States. As a bandleader, Django helped accomplish that through acts like Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars, the latter of which even scored some MTV airplay for a brief blip in the late '90s. But as the scene went underground, Django didn't let up, and his musical explorations expanded. Today, his catalog includes ska offshoots like rock steady and reggae, related genres like soul, and a few left-field outings into styles like klezmer. ...with nearly a quarter century of material to draw from, anything is technically game on this current tour, which supports a live album, Brooklyn Hangover, released last year. - Broward Palm Beach New Times


King Django at Propaganda 6/9, Monterey Club 6/10
A A AComments (0) By Arielle Castillo Thursday, Jun 9 2011

Location Info
Map data ©2012 - Terms of Use

Propaganda
6 S. J St.
Lake Worth, FL 33460 Category: Bars/Clubs Region: Out of Town Photos
2 user reviews
Write A Review
8


The Monterey Club
2608 S. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 Category: Bars/Clubs Region: Fort Lauderdale Photos
Details
King Django With Spred the Dub and the Ruins. 8 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth. Age 18 and up. Tickets cost $5. Call 561-547-7273, or click here. Also 9 p.m. Friday, June 10, with the Methodaires and Askultura at Monterey Club, 2608 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $5 for those age 18 to 20. Click here.
Related Content
Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. of Boca Will Supply H20 for the NBA Nets
April 9, 2012
Misfit Home-Brewers Land Top Prize at New Times Beerfest
April 2, 2012
Sneak Peek: What's On the Menu For This Year's Rock-N-Roll Beer-B-Que?
June 27, 2012
Lights on March 11 at Culture Room
March 8, 2012
"Brooklyn Boy" From Parade Productions: A New Company Struggles With an Imperfect Play
February 2, 2012
More About
Jeff BakerBrooklyn (New York City)
The one-man powerhouse born Jeff Baker but known in musical circles as King Django is one of the most influential Americans in ska, full stop. In the '80s and '90s, he — along with a handful of other figures like the Toasters' Rob "Bucket" Hingley — was responsible for bringing the originally Jamaican sound to the States. As a bandleader, Django helped accomplish that through acts like Skinnerbox and the Stubborn All-Stars, the latter of which even scored some MTV airplay for a brief blip in the late '90s. But as the scene went underground, Django didn't let up, and his musical explorations expanded. Today, his catalog includes ska offshoots like rock steady and reggae, related genres like soul, and a few left-field outings into styles like klezmer. ...with nearly a quarter century of material to draw from, anything is technically game on this current tour, which supports a live album, Brooklyn Hangover, released last year. - Broward Palm Beach New Times


There are rumors of a fourth-wave ska revival on the horizon. I’m not sure I buy it, but who cares? The charms of ska have awlays been obvious, and few modern interpreters of that 50-year-old tradition are as skilled as Jeff “King Django” Baker, or as adept at simultaneously celebrating its history and pushing its boundaries. Brooklyn Hangover finds him continuing to put traditional elements to work in advancing his own musical vision, with sharply-written songs and rock-steady grooves. Recorded live, this album includes nice reworkings of the Stubborn All-Stars tracks “Tired of Struggling” and “Crop No Drop.” Very nice. - CD Hot List


There are rumors of a fourth-wave ska revival on the horizon. I’m not sure I buy it, but who cares? The charms of ska have awlays been obvious, and few modern interpreters of that 50-year-old tradition are as skilled as Jeff “King Django” Baker, or as adept at simultaneously celebrating its history and pushing its boundaries. Brooklyn Hangover finds him continuing to put traditional elements to work in advancing his own musical vision, with sharply-written songs and rock-steady grooves. Recorded live, this album includes nice reworkings of the Stubborn All-Stars tracks “Tired of Struggling” and “Crop No Drop.” Very nice. - CD Hot List


A bit of a strange album this as it is a live recording but as nearly all crowd reaction is removed from mix and it is not until the end of fourth song, the R&B mover ‘Hey Bartender’, when Django shares a bit of banter with the crowd and introduces the next number, the optimistic ‘Take Your Chances’, that you actually realise there are people there! Still a live set it is and was recorded at Southpaw, Brooklyn, USA in 2007 and features King Django, obviously, on lead vocals, ukulele, harmonica, melodica and trombone backed up by Justin Rothberg on guitar, Jess DeBellis on keyboards, Ira Heaps on bass guitar and Gregg Mervine on drums. The vibe that these boys create is uplifting and easy going, as they go through stripped down, raw versions of some of Django’s tunes from his many years in the music business with various guises like those of Stubborn All-Stars, Skinnerbox and Roots & Culture, the later being a body of work I’m not too familiar with, though having now heard the excellent ‘A Single Thread’ this is something I will be looking to remedy.
Generally when I think of King Django I always tend to associate him with ska, but what I liked most about this album is it reminded me how well Django spreads himself across varying styles of reggae from dancehall on ‘Fistful a Riddim’ and closer ‘LKO’, taken from the ‘Roots Tonic’ album and 2000’s multi-genre mixing ‘Reason’ respectively, to the mighty bass led, rootsy ‘Precipice’, also from ‘Reason’ to what is one of my favourite Django tunes of all time the rocksteady skank of ‘Tired of Struggling’ that rides on Bob’s ‘Keep Moving’.
I was fortunate enough to catch King Django quite a few years ago at the Underworld in Camden, London and this album has served also as a reminder of what a great performer he is as well. So until I get the chance to catch him live again I’ll just have to make do with this for although the production and sound quality is so good for a live album you think it was recorded in a studio, there is still just enough live feeling left to make you feel like your having your own personal show from the man himself. In a word excellent! - SPRINGLINE JAMAICA REGGAE REVIEWS AND ARTICLES


King Django Quintet: Brooklyn Hangover – King Django is a veteran of the East Coast ska/rocksteady scene. He frequently peppers his performances with displays of fire breathing and at one really packed show at New York’s Knitting Factory managed to accidentally set D’s hair on fire. Although ska is best experienced in concert, Brooklyn Hangover manages to capture both the improvisational nature and the sheer joy of live ska. - Towels Packed, Will Travel


King Django Quintet: Brooklyn Hangover – King Django is a veteran of the East Coast ska/rocksteady scene. He frequently peppers his performances with displays of fire breathing and at one really packed show at New York’s Knitting Factory managed to accidentally set D’s hair on fire. Although ska is best experienced in concert, Brooklyn Hangover manages to capture both the improvisational nature and the sheer joy of live ska. - Towels Packed, Will Travel


Stubborn Records
2010

If it weren't for the inter-song banter, you'd be hard-pressed to discern that the superb new King Django Quintet album, Brooklyn Hangover, was recorded live at Southpaw in 2007--the sound is so full, warm, and well-balanced, and the performances are so dead-on perfect. The Quintet--Justin Rothberg on guitar, Jess DeBellis on keyboards, Ira Heaps on bass guitar and Gregg Mervine on drums--are really terrific. (Apparently, it was recorded the night after a friend's bachelor's party, so Django was suffering from the Irish flu, so to speak, though you'd never suspect it from listening to his singing or ukulele, harmonica, melodica, and trombone playing.) Generally, ska is best heard live, but the experience is often difficult to capture on tape--something is usually lost in the translation--but not here.

In addition to documenting the band's formidable musical prowess, Brooklyn Hangover serves as an excellent (though not comprehensive) retrospective of King Django's pretty amazing body of work (with cuts from his days in Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars, etc.) and at 18 tracks, at least a few of your favorite tunes will be represented here (mine are "Does He Love You," "Tired of Struggling," "Move Like Ya Gone," "Avenue A," "Not Like a Star," "Trying to Be Something," "Nex Finga," and "Jump Dung"). One track that I initially thought was new was actually from the Stubborn All-Stars' Nex Music (1999): the significantly tightened-up "Take Your Chances" (which Jeff wrote in tribute to Prince Buster). I love the optimism of its verses ("Every conflict is a chance to understand") and chorus ("Free will is what it means to be a man"). Glad I had the chance to re-discover this gem of a tune.

As far as live ska recordings go, Brooklyn Hangover may have set a new standard--and the bar is now very high.

Duff Guide to Ska Grade: A - The Duff Guide to Ska


Stubborn Records
2010

If it weren't for the inter-song banter, you'd be hard-pressed to discern that the superb new King Django Quintet album, Brooklyn Hangover, was recorded live at Southpaw in 2007--the sound is so full, warm, and well-balanced, and the performances are so dead-on perfect. The Quintet--Justin Rothberg on guitar, Jess DeBellis on keyboards, Ira Heaps on bass guitar and Gregg Mervine on drums--are really terrific. (Apparently, it was recorded the night after a friend's bachelor's party, so Django was suffering from the Irish flu, so to speak, though you'd never suspect it from listening to his singing or ukulele, harmonica, melodica, and trombone playing.) Generally, ska is best heard live, but the experience is often difficult to capture on tape--something is usually lost in the translation--but not here.

In addition to documenting the band's formidable musical prowess, Brooklyn Hangover serves as an excellent (though not comprehensive) retrospective of King Django's pretty amazing body of work (with cuts from his days in Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars, etc.) and at 18 tracks, at least a few of your favorite tunes will be represented here (mine are "Does He Love You," "Tired of Struggling," "Move Like Ya Gone," "Avenue A," "Not Like a Star," "Trying to Be Something," "Nex Finga," and "Jump Dung"). One track that I initially thought was new was actually from the Stubborn All-Stars' Nex Music (1999): the significantly tightened-up "Take Your Chances" (which Jeff wrote in tribute to Prince Buster). I love the optimism of its verses ("Every conflict is a chance to understand") and chorus ("Free will is what it means to be a man"). Glad I had the chance to re-discover this gem of a tune.

As far as live ska recordings go, Brooklyn Hangover may have set a new standard--and the bar is now very high.

Duff Guide to Ska Grade: A - The Duff Guide to Ska


Ska in the World Records/Stubborn Records
2012
Limited-edition 7" vinyl single

(Review by Steve Shafer)

One of the ways that King Django is marking the momentous occasion of Stubborn Records' 20th anniversary (!) is the release of this fantastic single--done in collaboration with Ska in the World Records in Japan. Side A is an excellent reworking of "Anywhere I Roam" (where King Django playfully boasts of his supreme musical prowess over Jack Wright's riddim), which originally appeared on the B side of The Forthrights' "Other People" single (on Stubborn Records), though this remix has even more verve, bite, and cheekiness than its predecessor (my favorite line: "Don't need no bourbon/neither no spliff/when you climb aboard my musical skiff/and catch a whiff of my keyboard riff!"--how many musicians claim that their music itself will give you a contact high?!).

Side B has to be one of the better Clash covers I've ever heard, a ska version of "Career Opportunities" (with New Orleans jazz-like breaks that Americana-lovin' Joe Strummer surely would have appreciated) that alters the lyrics to reflect our Great Recession, 99% vs. 1%, post-9/11 end-of-days (which aren't too dissimilar from the UK in the late 70s, are they?):
The offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I'd better take anything they'd got
Do you wanna make coffee for NBC?
Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock

I hate the army and I hate the Marines
I don't wanna go off fighting in the desert heat
I hate the civil service, too
And I won't open anthrax letters for you

They're gonna have to introduce conscription
They're gonna have to take away my prescription
If they wanna get me making toys
If they wanna get me, well, I got no choice

Careers
Careers
Careers

Ain't never gonna knock
As always, with this single King Django produces some of the finest ska/reggae you could hope to find. And it serves as yet another example of the extraordinarily good music that his label has been consistently putting out for the past two decades. - The Duff Guide to Ska


Ska in the World Records/Stubborn Records
2012
Limited-edition 7" vinyl single

(Review by Steve Shafer)

One of the ways that King Django is marking the momentous occasion of Stubborn Records' 20th anniversary (!) is the release of this fantastic single--done in collaboration with Ska in the World Records in Japan. Side A is an excellent reworking of "Anywhere I Roam" (where King Django playfully boasts of his supreme musical prowess over Jack Wright's riddim), which originally appeared on the B side of The Forthrights' "Other People" single (on Stubborn Records), though this remix has even more verve, bite, and cheekiness than its predecessor (my favorite line: "Don't need no bourbon/neither no spliff/when you climb aboard my musical skiff/and catch a whiff of my keyboard riff!"--how many musicians claim that their music itself will give you a contact high?!).

Side B has to be one of the better Clash covers I've ever heard, a ska version of "Career Opportunities" (with New Orleans jazz-like breaks that Americana-lovin' Joe Strummer surely would have appreciated) that alters the lyrics to reflect our Great Recession, 99% vs. 1%, post-9/11 end-of-days (which aren't too dissimilar from the UK in the late 70s, are they?):
The offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I'd better take anything they'd got
Do you wanna make coffee for NBC?
Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock

I hate the army and I hate the Marines
I don't wanna go off fighting in the desert heat
I hate the civil service, too
And I won't open anthrax letters for you

They're gonna have to introduce conscription
They're gonna have to take away my prescription
If they wanna get me making toys
If they wanna get me, well, I got no choice

Careers
Careers
Careers

Ain't never gonna knock
As always, with this single King Django produces some of the finest ska/reggae you could hope to find. And it serves as yet another example of the extraordinarily good music that his label has been consistently putting out for the past two decades. - The Duff Guide to Ska


Writer: JUSTIN HOPPER

“Can’t follow this if your attention too short / ’Cause Jah Jah is my shield, and Jah Jah is my fort.”

New York City ska, reggae and punk veteran King Django sings about attention on the title track from his 2001 solo album Reason, and it’s a mantra to his own dedication -- and an indictment of an often fickle audience’s lack thereof. It’s been two decades since Jeff Baker's high school passion for Jamaican music took hold, when he used to battle-rap dancehall lyrics against schoolmate Young MC. In that time, Baker, as King Django, has gone from ardent student at the vinyl feet of Johnny “Truth and Rights” Osbourne and Carlton “Trodding” Livingston to working with them and their peers with his Version City recording studio and Stubborn Records label.

In the 1990s, Django and ska music in general had a brief flirtation with American success, and Baker’s Skinnerbox and Stubborn All-Stars bands both toured and recorded constantly. But while the American teen’s love for Jamaican riddims danced off into the sweater-clad sunset of emo, Baker continued as he had before the rise of ska: studying and loving ska and reggae music, and always improving. Django’s attention span is long, and it’s paying dividends in talent -- as seen on the first installment of the Ska Mob tour earlier this year, the man’s versatility, flipping from mile-a-minute dancehall chatter to roots-ska swingers, is at an all-time high. Back again with his German counterpart Dr. Ring Ding, both backed up by long-serving D.C.-based ska-jazz orchestra Eastern Standard Time, the Django’s Ska Mob tour proves that while this music might not be on the magazine covers, for those with the attention span, it’s better than ever.
- http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/archive.cfm?type=Music%20Previews&action=getComplete&ref=2470


You may not recognise the name but if you're a fan of ska and reggae you may know of some of the bands King Django has been previously involved with. He was the maverick mastermind behind Skinnerbox and The Stubborn Allstars as well as helping out the likes of Rancid, The Toasters and The Slackers amongst others. Not content on receiving those credits he also runs Stubborn Records, produces other bands and wrote a New York based ska fanzine. A multi talented man who seems to be able to turn his hand at anything, on this release alone he manages to provide vocals, trombone, harmonica, percussion, keyboards, etc. Oh and singing in one language isn't enough either as he sings in English, Spanish, French and German to name but a few. This man is simply a living legend and his music is some of the most uplifting music I've ever had the fortune to listen to. For the main this album concentrate on roots ska but there's an undeniable mad Yiddish element to the mix that just adds to the fun. Apparently this compilation of selected work between 1992 and 2003 is only the tip of the iceberg, but what an iceberg it must be. From the wonderful opener of Does He Love You to the groove-laden instrumental Falafel Hounmmous, you want to get up and dance.

The musicianship throughout this is absolutely superb there are some quite lovely instrumentation, for example on Single Thread there is this wonderful delicate finger picked guitar that's almost flamenco in style, whereas the song itself is a laid back groovy ska number with reggae influences. Elsewhere there are horns and harmonica combining to make a funky soup. The obvious highlight though is King Django's voice, which is often a smooth croon that's so warm you can't help being seduced. But not only can the man croon, the album also show's the his diversity, You Knock The Wind Out Of Me is a real upbeat pacy number that almost knocks on ska punk and he handles the different vocal styling with effortless ease. I could go on waxing lyrical about how damn good this CD is, I could tell you about the brilliant funky guitars during Precipice are or how utterly essential the ska rap of Open Season is. But if you like ska I suggest you just discover King Django for yourself, as you're in for a real treat.

Reviewer: Will Munn
- http://www.newsworcs.co.uk/rhythmandbooze/index.php


You may not recognise the name but if you're a fan of ska and reggae you may know of some of the bands King Django has been previously involved with. He was the maverick mastermind behind Skinnerbox and The Stubborn Allstars as well as helping out the likes of Rancid, The Toasters and The Slackers amongst others. Not content on receiving those credits he also runs Stubborn Records, produces other bands and wrote a New York based ska fanzine. A multi talented man who seems to be able to turn his hand at anything, on this release alone he manages to provide vocals, trombone, harmonica, percussion, keyboards, etc. Oh and singing in one language isn't enough either as he sings in English, Spanish, French and German to name but a few. This man is simply a living legend and his music is some of the most uplifting music I've ever had the fortune to listen to. For the main this album concentrate on roots ska but there's an undeniable mad Yiddish element to the mix that just adds to the fun. Apparently this compilation of selected work between 1992 and 2003 is only the tip of the iceberg, but what an iceberg it must be. From the wonderful opener of Does He Love You to the groove-laden instrumental Falafel Hounmmous, you want to get up and dance.

The musicianship throughout this is absolutely superb there are some quite lovely instrumentation, for example on Single Thread there is this wonderful delicate finger picked guitar that's almost flamenco in style, whereas the song itself is a laid back groovy ska number with reggae influences. Elsewhere there are horns and harmonica combining to make a funky soup. The obvious highlight though is King Django's voice, which is often a smooth croon that's so warm you can't help being seduced. But not only can the man croon, the album also show's the his diversity, You Knock The Wind Out Of Me is a real upbeat pacy number that almost knocks on ska punk and he handles the different vocal styling with effortless ease. I could go on waxing lyrical about how damn good this CD is, I could tell you about the brilliant funky guitars during Precipice are or how utterly essential the ska rap of Open Season is. But if you like ska I suggest you just discover King Django for yourself, as you're in for a real treat.

Reviewer: Will Munn
- http://www.newsworcs.co.uk/rhythmandbooze/index.php


Darker Roots
Version City Rockers
Antifaz records

I grabbed this record because the artwork was genius, scummy and in black and white, and from the list of singers I figured it was all obscure reissue. Nope - all new, all recorded in NYC in the years since 9/11. The Version City Rockers are King Django's extremely accurate roots reggae house revival band. Or something. Information is somewhat cryptic, and tonight I am lacking the patience to do all the necessary research. Released by the ultra cryptic Antifaz label, this NYC-based project has my reggae tongue wagging for more more more. Over the past few years since 9/11 Django has pulled in some bona fide reggae legends into the room for some stunning returns to the mike - some of these people haven't been active for years. Sugar Minott (now enjoys a hot best-of just out on Soul Jazz), Yabby You, Ronny Davis, Sister Nancy, Glen Brown, Cedric Brooks and Congo Ashanti Roy all turn in great performances, and King Django is not fucking around. Most modern reggae is embarassing, digital, stiff and fake, as bad and insincere as anything from Nashville in the 80's. None of that here. The band has the wise restraint of any great Studio One lineup from the 70's, and it's recorded beautifully on vintage gear. As follows, each singer turns in a performance on par with anything else they've ever done. Highlights include Glen Brown's "Let's Live Love", a dramatic, emphatic gem, Sugar Minot's raveup "Nah Boodah Wid It", Skatalite saxophonist Cedric Brooks' moody "It's Up To You", and Congo Ashanti Roy (of the legendary Congos) post 9/11 lament "Why Dem A Galong So", which is one long sad answerless question, like our history since that day.

- http://www.therelentlessimage.com/


Darker Roots
Version City Rockers
Antifaz records

I grabbed this record because the artwork was genius, scummy and in black and white, and from the list of singers I figured it was all obscure reissue. Nope - all new, all recorded in NYC in the years since 9/11. The Version City Rockers are King Django's extremely accurate roots reggae house revival band. Or something. Information is somewhat cryptic, and tonight I am lacking the patience to do all the necessary research. Released by the ultra cryptic Antifaz label, this NYC-based project has my reggae tongue wagging for more more more. Over the past few years since 9/11 Django has pulled in some bona fide reggae legends into the room for some stunning returns to the mike - some of these people haven't been active for years. Sugar Minott (now enjoys a hot best-of just out on Soul Jazz), Yabby You, Ronny Davis, Sister Nancy, Glen Brown, Cedric Brooks and Congo Ashanti Roy all turn in great performances, and King Django is not fucking around. Most modern reggae is embarassing, digital, stiff and fake, as bad and insincere as anything from Nashville in the 80's. None of that here. The band has the wise restraint of any great Studio One lineup from the 70's, and it's recorded beautifully on vintage gear. As follows, each singer turns in a performance on par with anything else they've ever done. Highlights include Glen Brown's "Let's Live Love", a dramatic, emphatic gem, Sugar Minot's raveup "Nah Boodah Wid It", Skatalite saxophonist Cedric Brooks' moody "It's Up To You", and Congo Ashanti Roy (of the legendary Congos) post 9/11 lament "Why Dem A Galong So", which is one long sad answerless question, like our history since that day.

- http://www.therelentlessimage.com/


King Django • With JFK and the Conspirators, the Mad Bomber Society and the Southside Riots • Sidetrack Café • Sat, Oct 30 New Jersey’s King Django has been a mover and a shaker on the East Coast ska scene since fronting the Boilers in the early ’80s. But the multi-instrumentalist is no one-trick pony; he’s been involved in various musical projects over the years, playing everything from dub to reggae to dancehall to punk.

Django runs his own recording studio, Version City, as well as Stubborn Records. In the late ’90s he formed the Stubborn All-Stars, a traditional ska band, which featured members of Rancid and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Along with all his solo projects—including one dedicated to making Yiddish ska music—he’s found the time to come to Canada for a short tour with Winnipeg reggae/ska sensations JFK and the Conspirators serving as his backing band. “They are really fun, funny and a very cool bunch of guys, which is why I’m doing it,” says Django from his studio in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “Because I had such a good time with them the last time we did some shows together, I was like, ‘I will do whatever you ask—I’m at your service.’ So I’m flying into Winnipeg and then I don’t really have to be conscious for the next two weeks. I’ll just go where they tell me. They’ll prop me up, pump me full of whiskey—Canadian rye—point me at the kids and turn me loose.”

Django has seen ska go from a small but potent underground movement to a commercial juggernaut and back again, but he’s never lost faith in it. “It is what everyone makes it,” he says. “When I got into ska, it was definitely about heavy political and social messages, and I would say that during the American ska explosion it was really just about beer, wacky clothes and checkerboards. That was definitely a sad phenomenon.

“All the meaning was sucked out of the music,” he continues. “But at the same time, all the heavy stuff was still going on in the underground. It’s always that way, isn’t it? It’s good that it’s back in the hands of the people who were really hard into it. There’s a lot less money being made off of it, but the money being made is in the hands of the people who were doing it a long time ago and that are still going to be doing it regardless of what the next big thing is.” (PD)
- http://www.vueweekly.com/


King Django • With JFK and the Conspirators, the Mad Bomber Society and the Southside Riots • Sidetrack Café • Sat, Oct 30 New Jersey’s King Django has been a mover and a shaker on the East Coast ska scene since fronting the Boilers in the early ’80s. But the multi-instrumentalist is no one-trick pony; he’s been involved in various musical projects over the years, playing everything from dub to reggae to dancehall to punk.

Django runs his own recording studio, Version City, as well as Stubborn Records. In the late ’90s he formed the Stubborn All-Stars, a traditional ska band, which featured members of Rancid and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Along with all his solo projects—including one dedicated to making Yiddish ska music—he’s found the time to come to Canada for a short tour with Winnipeg reggae/ska sensations JFK and the Conspirators serving as his backing band. “They are really fun, funny and a very cool bunch of guys, which is why I’m doing it,” says Django from his studio in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “Because I had such a good time with them the last time we did some shows together, I was like, ‘I will do whatever you ask—I’m at your service.’ So I’m flying into Winnipeg and then I don’t really have to be conscious for the next two weeks. I’ll just go where they tell me. They’ll prop me up, pump me full of whiskey—Canadian rye—point me at the kids and turn me loose.”

Django has seen ska go from a small but potent underground movement to a commercial juggernaut and back again, but he’s never lost faith in it. “It is what everyone makes it,” he says. “When I got into ska, it was definitely about heavy political and social messages, and I would say that during the American ska explosion it was really just about beer, wacky clothes and checkerboards. That was definitely a sad phenomenon.

“All the meaning was sucked out of the music,” he continues. “But at the same time, all the heavy stuff was still going on in the underground. It’s always that way, isn’t it? It’s good that it’s back in the hands of the people who were really hard into it. There’s a lot less money being made off of it, but the money being made is in the hands of the people who were doing it a long time ago and that are still going to be doing it regardless of what the next big thing is.” (PD)
- http://www.vueweekly.com/


Multi-talented artist/producer (vocals, keyboards, trombone, ukulele, harmonica, and more) King Django claims Roots Tonic is a solo album, but that shouldn't suggest he's recording on his own. For this, his second solo shot, huge swathes of the Big Apple third wave scene showed up to help (six drummers alone are credited), while even two Jamaican superstars — singer Sugar Minott and legendary producer Glen Brown — dropped by and lent a hand on percussion. With such a large cast of players, and riddims recorded over the years from 1989 on, and some of the lyrics written even earlier, it's no surprise that this is an eclectic set. Even so, it easily holds together as an album, for the rhythms themselves are pure roots reggae/rockers, and the dub-inflected production further coalesces the sound. From the fiery Channel One-esque militancy of "No Trial," its revolutionary message delivered by Rocker-T, to the Steel Pulsey "It's All Over," across the storming dancehall-styled "Fitful a Riddim," and onto the jazzy "It's All Over," Django rules the roots world. "Rock and Come In," where the King is joined by Dr. Ring Ding, is also absolutely inspired, embracing African chorale backing vocals while agilely sliding musically from the early reggae age to the roots era, and then into the minimalistic sound of the '80s. King Django is also the "Lyric Architect," here backing up his verbal boasts with a Sly & Robbie-styled riddim. The pulsing "Zion Gates" pays homage to the duo's hefty earlier work with the Revolutionaries, as well as to the late, great Augustus Pablo, with a melodica-drenched, dubby powerhouse instrumental. Appropriately enough, the album ends with the nyahbinghi-driven "Wayfarer's Prayer," a reminder that the roots age was inspired not just by militant riddims but fervid religious beliefs.Strong personal lyrics, phenomenal riddims, and potent performances both musically and vocally underpin every number on this set. Roots Tonic is destined to be a yardstick of the genre for years to come. - http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:he67mpsa9f3o


Multi-talented artist/producer (vocals, keyboards, trombone, ukulele, harmonica, and more) King Django claims Roots Tonic is a solo album, but that shouldn't suggest he's recording on his own. For this, his second solo shot, huge swathes of the Big Apple third wave scene showed up to help (six drummers alone are credited), while even two Jamaican superstars — singer Sugar Minott and legendary producer Glen Brown — dropped by and lent a hand on percussion. With such a large cast of players, and riddims recorded over the years from 1989 on, and some of the lyrics written even earlier, it's no surprise that this is an eclectic set. Even so, it easily holds together as an album, for the rhythms themselves are pure roots reggae/rockers, and the dub-inflected production further coalesces the sound. From the fiery Channel One-esque militancy of "No Trial," its revolutionary message delivered by Rocker-T, to the Steel Pulsey "It's All Over," across the storming dancehall-styled "Fitful a Riddim," and onto the jazzy "It's All Over," Django rules the roots world. "Rock and Come In," where the King is joined by Dr. Ring Ding, is also absolutely inspired, embracing African chorale backing vocals while agilely sliding musically from the early reggae age to the roots era, and then into the minimalistic sound of the '80s. King Django is also the "Lyric Architect," here backing up his verbal boasts with a Sly & Robbie-styled riddim. The pulsing "Zion Gates" pays homage to the duo's hefty earlier work with the Revolutionaries, as well as to the late, great Augustus Pablo, with a melodica-drenched, dubby powerhouse instrumental. Appropriately enough, the album ends with the nyahbinghi-driven "Wayfarer's Prayer," a reminder that the roots age was inspired not just by militant riddims but fervid religious beliefs.Strong personal lyrics, phenomenal riddims, and potent performances both musically and vocally underpin every number on this set. Roots Tonic is destined to be a yardstick of the genre for years to come. - http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:he67mpsa9f3o


King Django: Roots Tonic, Jump Up Records, 2005
http://www.jahworks.org/music/cd/www.kingdjango.com
Rating: A-

Two-thirds of the way through Roots Tonic, King Django explains that he is “a lyrics architect.” I’m puzzled about what a lyrics architect does that a lyricist doesn’t, but after 12 seconds of pondering, I have no profound insight to share on the subject. And I’m not going to ponder it again, because his royal highness also tells us he is “sometimes serious and other time in jest,” and who knows, the architect bit may be part of the latter.

Yes, King Django does like to have his fun, and a goodly part of the album is infused with that spirit. The serious stuff is just as worthy musically speaking, but the fun parts are so unusual in reggae that they deserve special consideration. Thus we have a very catchy dancehall-flavored ska which accurately proclaims that as well as a “fistful a riddim,” he also has “a mouthful a chat.” For “Rock and Come In,” the King brings Dr. Ring Ding along to toast; they trade turns at the mic, issuing insults, uttering nonsense and bragging about their ability to keep the folks dancing. A couple of tracks later comes a sauntering beat and the news that “New York neighbors, they come in thirty-one flavors,” which is a seriously jestful slant on the milieu there.

The sense of fun comes out in subtle ways at times. The cloppy, jaunty rhythm of the lead track is a definite hint to us that the reflective vocal and despairing lyrics (a love affair gone bad) are not the end of the story; life goes on. An almost rocksteady tune, “Too Many Things,” features a slightly corny Mexican touch in the trumpet. And “The Trial” with guest Rocker T explores the significant question of justice (“I am not a rude boy”), but maintains the entertainment value of the best of reggae’s courtroom songs.

I said that the more serious stuff is just as worthy, and I wasn’t jesting. Toward the end of “The Bottle” (with lyrics about seeking solace in drink) a disembodied voice calls out as if from the depths of the soul, or the bottom of the bottle. An Augustus Pablo-style melodica instrumental and a full-blown nyahbinghi hymn bring the album to a meditative close.

Roots Tonic works almost as a sampler of classic reggae styles. Not surprisingly, therefore, it is highly derivative, but that’s okay – the sharp songwriting makes it unique. “Sometimes serious and other time in jest” for sure, but highly listenable throughout.

- jahworks.org


King Django: Roots Tonic, Jump Up Records, 2005
http://www.jahworks.org/music/cd/www.kingdjango.com
Rating: A-

Two-thirds of the way through Roots Tonic, King Django explains that he is “a lyrics architect.” I’m puzzled about what a lyrics architect does that a lyricist doesn’t, but after 12 seconds of pondering, I have no profound insight to share on the subject. And I’m not going to ponder it again, because his royal highness also tells us he is “sometimes serious and other time in jest,” and who knows, the architect bit may be part of the latter.

Yes, King Django does like to have his fun, and a goodly part of the album is infused with that spirit. The serious stuff is just as worthy musically speaking, but the fun parts are so unusual in reggae that they deserve special consideration. Thus we have a very catchy dancehall-flavored ska which accurately proclaims that as well as a “fistful a riddim,” he also has “a mouthful a chat.” For “Rock and Come In,” the King brings Dr. Ring Ding along to toast; they trade turns at the mic, issuing insults, uttering nonsense and bragging about their ability to keep the folks dancing. A couple of tracks later comes a sauntering beat and the news that “New York neighbors, they come in thirty-one flavors,” which is a seriously jestful slant on the milieu there.

The sense of fun comes out in subtle ways at times. The cloppy, jaunty rhythm of the lead track is a definite hint to us that the reflective vocal and despairing lyrics (a love affair gone bad) are not the end of the story; life goes on. An almost rocksteady tune, “Too Many Things,” features a slightly corny Mexican touch in the trumpet. And “The Trial” with guest Rocker T explores the significant question of justice (“I am not a rude boy”), but maintains the entertainment value of the best of reggae’s courtroom songs.

I said that the more serious stuff is just as worthy, and I wasn’t jesting. Toward the end of “The Bottle” (with lyrics about seeking solace in drink) a disembodied voice calls out as if from the depths of the soul, or the bottom of the bottle. An Augustus Pablo-style melodica instrumental and a full-blown nyahbinghi hymn bring the album to a meditative close.

Roots Tonic works almost as a sampler of classic reggae styles. Not surprisingly, therefore, it is highly derivative, but that’s okay – the sharp songwriting makes it unique. “Sometimes serious and other time in jest” for sure, but highly listenable throughout.

- jahworks.org


International Ska Fest III, London
14th March, 2004

King Django was absolutely awesome. I didnt know whether to expect all Django solo stuff, Stubborn All Stars stuff, Skinnerbox stuff or what - but he played the absolute best variety of songs possible. Opening with a tune pretty familiar to everyone, I imagine, KD launched right into "Does He Love You" by Skinnerbox. It was definitely a good song to start on, the Underworld fairly full of people so happy and bouncy, the atmosphere was great. KD ripped through a lot of songs, with minimal bullshitting in-between - songs like Tin Spam, and Struggling (Stubborn All Stars) really gripped me, although every single song was a joy to hear live. I was wondering how KD solo songs would come across being played live, but Reason and Precipice among others were great to hear - not least because they are so unusual. I enjoyed every minute of Django's set and was sad when it ended. - http://www.punknews.co.uk


International Ska Fest III, London
14th March, 2004

King Django was absolutely awesome. I didnt know whether to expect all Django solo stuff, Stubborn All Stars stuff, Skinnerbox stuff or what - but he played the absolute best variety of songs possible. Opening with a tune pretty familiar to everyone, I imagine, KD launched right into "Does He Love You" by Skinnerbox. It was definitely a good song to start on, the Underworld fairly full of people so happy and bouncy, the atmosphere was great. KD ripped through a lot of songs, with minimal bullshitting in-between - songs like Tin Spam, and Struggling (Stubborn All Stars) really gripped me, although every single song was a joy to hear live. I was wondering how KD solo songs would come across being played live, but Reason and Precipice among others were great to hear - not least because they are so unusual. I enjoyed every minute of Django's set and was sad when it ended. - http://www.punknews.co.uk


Discography

King Django-Career Opportunities/Anywhere I Roam 7” (Stubborn/Ska In the World, 2012)
King Django-Avenue A 10” EP (Stubborn, 2010)
King Django Quintet-Brooklyn Hangover (Stubborn Records, 2010)
King Django-The More I Learn 7” (Version City, 2007)
King Django & Kapachie-Them a War 7” (Freedom Sounds, 2007)
King Django-Asafa 7” (Freedom Sounds, 2006)
King Django-Be All Mine/You Said You Love Me 7” (Conquering Ruler, 2006)
King Django: Roots Tonic (Jump Up/Stubborn/Big 8) 2005/2006
King Django: A Single Thread (Megalith/Leech) 2004
V/A: Version City Sessions (Asian Man) 2004
Version City Rockers: Deeper Roots (Antifaz) 2004
King Django meets the Scrucialists (Leech/Grover/Jump Up) 2003
Version City Rockers V/A: Roots of Dub Funk 3 (Tanty) 2003
King Django V/A: Give 'em The Boot 3 (Hellcat/Epitaph) 2002
Don Khumalo: De Vuelta al Ska (Stubborn Venezuela) 2001
King Django: Reason (Hellcat/Epitaph) 2001
Version City Rockers: Version City Dub Clash (Stubborn/Jumpstart) 2000
Stubborn All-Stars Nex Music (Stubborn) 1999
Radiation Kings Early Years (Stubborn) 1999
Stubborn All-Stars, Skinnerbox V/A: NYC Ska Mob & Friends (Grover, Germany) Dec 1998
Skinnerbox Demonstration full-length CD/Cassette (Triple Crown/Stubborn) Dec 1998
King Django King Django’s Roots & Culture (Triple Crown) 1998
The Agents For All The Massive (Radical) Oct 1998
Skinnerbox V/A: Ska, Punk & Disorderly (Bankshot) 1998
Skinnerbox V/A: All Around Massive (Cole Mack) 1998
Skinnerbox, The Lonely Boys V/A: Who’s The Man (Full Stop) 1998
King Django, The Demanders, Selika and Django V/A: Version City (Stubborn) Dec 1997
Rocker T & Version City Rockers Nicer By The Hour (Stubborn) Jun 1998/(Grover, Germany) Dec. 1998
Stubborn All-Stars Back With A New Batch (Triple Crown) Nov 1997
Rocket From The Crypt
Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars V/A: Give ‘Em The Boot (Hellcat) 1997
Skinnerbox What You Can Do, What You Can't (Moon Ska) Apr 1997
Skinnerbox V/A: Skankaholics Anonymous (Moon Ska) Apr 1997
Skinnerbox V/A: Big Skank Theory (Le Silence De La Rue, France) 1997
The Usuals At Shirley & Juicy’s (No Idea) 1997
Skinnerbox V/A: This Aren't 2-Tone compilation CD (Too Hep) 1996
Skinnerbox, Dunia & Django, The Stable Boys, Noah & The Arks, et al. V/A: Roots, Branch & Stem CD (Stubborn), June 1996
Skinnerbox Special Wild 1989-1994 CD (Stubborn), May 1996
Skinnerbox, Scofflaws V/A: Joint Ventures of Ska CD (DVS Media) May 1996
Rancid with Stubborn All-Stars V/A: Beavis & Butthead Do America Soundtrack (Geffen) 1996
Castillo y La Rabia V/A: Latin Ska Vol. 2 (Moon) 1996
Django and Elwood V/A: Keep the Pressure On (Kingpin) 1996
The Toasters Hard Band for Dead (Moon) 1996
The Slackers Better Late Than Never (Moon) 1996
Stubborn All-Stars V/A: Ed's Next Move Motion Picture Soundtrack (Milan) 1996
Stubborn All-Stars Open Season (Another Planet) 1995
Stubborn All-Stars V/A: Spawn of Skarmageddon (Moon) 1995
CIV Set Your Goals (Atlantic) 1995
Die Monster Die 1995
Skinnerbox V/A: Stay Sharp Vol. 2 (Step-1, England) June 1995
Stubborn All-Stars Old's Cool EP (Stubborn) 1994
Murphy's Law Good For Now EP (We Bite America) 1994
Skinnerbox Sunken Treasure 4-song EP (Stubborn) July 1994
Skinnerbox V/A: Skarmageddon CD (Moon) July 1994
Skinnerbox Does He Love You/Right Side 7" single (Stubborn) Dec. 1993
Skinnerbox Tales of the Red CD/cassette (Stubborn), May 1993
Outface Outface (Crisis/Revelation) 1993
Skinnerbox Now & Then cassette 1992
Skinnerbox V/A: Step on a Crack (Sound Views) 1992
Skinnerbox V/A: NYC SKA Live LP (Moon) 1991
Skinnerbox Instrumental Conditioning cassette 1990
The Boilers Rockin' Steady LP (Oi/Ska, England) 1988
The Boilers V/A: Skaface LP (Moon) 1988
Too True V/A: NY Beat - Hit & Run (Moon) 1985

Photos

Bio

A formidable presence in the American ska and reggae scene, King Django has made his name internationally over a nearly three decade career as an influential bandleader, singer, songwriter, arranger, instrumentalist, Jamaican-style Ragamuffin MC and producer/engineer. From his beginnings as a pioneer of the 1980s New York City ska scene, through the genres big boom in the 1990s, and continuing to this day, Django has established himself as a musical force to be reckoned with. During this time, he served as the leader and creative mastermind behind the groups Skinnerbox, Stubborn All-Stars and King Django Band, in addition to guest stints and tours with the likes of Rancid, Murphys Law, the Slackers and the Toasters, as well as founding his own label, Stubborn Records, in 1992, and studio, Version City, 1997. He has toured far and wide, both domestically and to such distant and exotic locales as Europe, South America and Japan, to spread his positive musical vibe to the masses. 2010 saw the release of his first live album, Brooklyn Hangover, and his newest offering of original material, Anywhere I Roam, is slated for release in late 2012/early 2013. A King Django concert is a heady, eclectic mix of deep reggae grooves and bouncy ska beats, buoyed by unexpected and liberal helpings of everything from soul, R&B and blues to country and rock and roll; not even hip-hop or European folk music are off-limits. So open up your minds and ears, dust off your dancing shoes, and expose yourself to the one-of-a-kind musical experience that is King Django.

"If you've spent more than a minute on the ska scene, you'll know that [he's] the original New York rudy...who kept the flame burning even when it was just a candle in the window." - - Alternative Press