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King Django / Press

“Jeff Baker is a busy guy. When CL initially caught up with the “ageless” ska music icon (he shares a birthday with Count Basie and Joe Strummer, but won’t give us a birth year), he was busy running errands around his hometown of New Brunswick, N.J. in advance of an upcoming 24-date, three-week tour of the Southeast. His Bluetooth headset is acting wonky, and he’s got one hell of a toothache. “I’m actually headed to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine,” he said over a distorted cellular connection. “I’m running around crazy.” Everything sounds hectic, which is fitting. Baker, better known as King Django, hasn’t had a day job since 1995, and he’s spent every moment since then madly devoted to promoting roots ska to the masses. He’s fronted largely successful outfits like Stubborn All-Stars, which saw heavy MTV airplay back in the ’90s, and you won’t find a ska rat who doesn’t know a thing or two about Skinnerbox or Murphy’s Law...”

“On ne présente plus KING DJANGO, enfin si un peu quand même… Jeff Baker alias King Django donc, est un musicien/chanteur/producteur de New York. Le gars aime la musique jamaïcaine, toute la musique jamaïcaine, un peu comme son pote Dr Ring Ding : Ska, rocksteady, skinhead reggae, raggamuffin, reggae roots, dancehall, dub… On se souvient de lui il y a plus de vingt ans comme membre de Skinnerbox et comme guest au trombone chez les hardcoreux de Murphy’s Law, puis on l’aperçoit sur le premier album des Slackers. En 1992, Jeff Baker avait créé son propre label, Stubborn Records, qui a contribué avec Hellcat Records ou Moon Ska, à faire connaître le ska au grand public dans le deuxième moitié des années 90. En 1994, il monte The Stubborn Allstars avec Vic Ruggiero, Agent Jay, Victor Rice et tant d’autres, avec qui il enregistre un premier EP puis un premier album, « Open Season », en 1995 (deux autres suivront en 1997 et 1999). En 1997, il crée son studio, le Vers”

“True to its title, the recently released 12 track King Django album, Anywhere I Roam, available on Stubborn Records, is a beautiful musical meditation through a variety of Jamaican musical genres (ska, early, roots and rub-a-dub reggae and roots rocksteady) on what it means to truly commit to life as a musician and an artist and the tensions (economic, romantic, familial) that choice can create. Recorded in various studios around the world with an international cast of collaborators -- Obi Fernandez, The Void Union, The Forthrights, The Scrucialists, Regatta 69, Pannonia Allstar Ska Orchestra (PASO), Mr T-Bone, The Soul Captives and Motha Nature -- the ten originals and two covers (a rollicking ska meets New Orleans blues reworking of The Clash's Career Opportunities with lyrics updated for the Great Recession of 2008 and a stirring Skatalites-like version of The Police's Every Breath You Take...”

“For two decades, Stubborn Records founder Jeff “King Django” Baker has kept the East Coast safe for ska and traditional Jamaican music. Here, the singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist pulls together a dozen tracks cut with friends and associates, and while all feature variations of the island’s distinctive offbeat bounce, Django keeps things as diverse as possible. In addition to swift, snappy ska tunes, the King drops plenty of smooth-grooving rocksteady and bass-heavy reggae. He’s especially good when he plays up the boss-man shtick and grabs the mic for some patois-laced braggadocio toasting, as on the title track, where the Jewish Brooklynite rhymes “spliff,” “skiff” and “riff,” grinning all the while.”

“I usually put reggae and reggae-related releases in the World/Ethnic section, but the latest from King Django (the man who pretty much serves as the center of gravity for New York City’s surviving ska scene) is all over the place stylistically while remaining consistently informed by the unique flavors of the NYC scene: on this excellent disc you’ll hear ska, rock steady, and vintage-style reggae in both roots and dancehall styles, along with a slightly hilarious Police cover and instrumental contributions from the likes of Regatta 69, the Scrucialists, and even the mighty Soul Syndicate. Django’s sense of humor and skanking energy are a source of delight throughout. Highly recommended.”

“In 1987, Jeff Baker made one of the most crucial decisions of his life. On one hand, he was a 20-year-old who was very adept at computer programming, and those skills had landed him a job offer that put a lot of currency on the table. On the other, he was King Django, a Brooklyn-raised ska/reggae acolyte who had become deeply infatuated with toasting (reggae singing/speaking) as a teenager and was quickly growing acclimated with playing music himself. The programmer and the active musician would not be able to coexist. “I thought about it a lot. At the end of the day, I said, 'You know what? If I take that job, I'm not going to be able to do this anymore,' and I didn't take the job. That was probably the first major fork in that road there,” says the 45-year-old Django, who cribbed his name from the Upsetters' song “Return of Django” and is now based out of New Brunswick, NJ.”

“Jeff “King Django” Baker has been one of the most prolific musicians of our generation. Whether he is playing ska, reggae, dancehall, punk, hardcore, or some conglomeration of any/all of those, he has put out quality release after quality release. Musically, he has been the ringmaster of Skinnerbox, the Stubborn All Stars, his Roots & Culture band, and recording under his own name. He has also worked with a who’s who of bands such a Rancid, Murphy’s Law, the Slackers, Civ, and the Toasters. Not just a musician, Django also runs long running label Stubborn Records and the Version City studio. Recently, King Django released his latest record, Anywhere I Roam. The band features a number of special guests such as Obi Fernandez, the Forthrights, Regatta 69, and many more. I had a chance to catch up with the man I am proud to call my king.”

“If you looked at the concert listings for the Version City Tour, and upon seeing the name “King Django,” thought, “wow, someone jumped on the ‘Django Unchained’ bandwagon pretty quickly,” you couldn’t be more wrong. Jeff Baker has been using the name as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, arranger and multi-instrumentalist as a seminal figure on the ska, reggae and rocksteady music scene since long before Quentin Tarantino pulped his first fiction. During the boom called the “third wave of ska” in the mid-’90s, King Django was perhaps one of the most respected musicians on the ska scene, known equally for his respect and reverence for the roots of Jamaican music and for his willingness to experiment and take the music in new and challenging directions. Whether exploring the old school with Stubborn All-Stars or expanding horizons with Skinnerbox — his two main projects in the ’90s — his credit on a record guaranteed that it merited attention.”