Jeff Baker has always been on the forefront of the ska and reggae scenes here in the United States. As a founding member of The Boilers, one of the first NYC ska bands to emerge on the scene, Baker has continually pushed himself and his music. Though The Boilers didn’t last that long, Baker was quick to regroup, forming the veteran NYC ska band Skinnerbox. Continually striving forward, Baker eventually found himself going back; back to the roots.
By early 1994, Jeff “King Django” Baker felt his original ska roots tugging at his heartstrings and he assembled The Stubborn All-Stars for a studio session which resulted in the 4-song Old’s Cool 7" EP on Stubborn Records. Choosing musicians very carefully from the large pool of NYC ska bands (Skinnerbox, The Insteps, The Slackers, The Skatalites, The Toasters, and Agent 99) for their familiarity with and ability to play traditional Jamaican ska, Django hit upon the sound he was looking for: ska in a very traditional Jamaican style, reconnected with its own roots in American Rhythm & Blues.
Since that time, Django has been one of the most prolific producers of American ska, reggae, and the like. He has worked with some of the biggest name in punk and ska. In 1996 he toured with Rancid on the Lollapalooza Tour and he’s toured both North America and Europe with Skinnerbox, The Stubborn All-Stars, and even solo quite consistently.
This, his latest work, is a collaboration with fellow NYC scene veterans Victor Rice (ex-Scofflaws) and “Agent” Jay Nugent (ex-Agent 99). Version City Dub Clash features some of the hottest dub-reggae from the Version City Studios; the studio, which Baker created in the style of Lee Perry’s Black Ark, that has been the hotbed for many of NYC’s talents and veterans over the past three years.
With as much history and work behind him, it’s not what Baker has done, but it’s what he’ll do that makes him one of the most essential artist in the scene today.