A seminal force in the American ska & reggae scene, KING DJANGO has made his name internationally as a singer, ragamuffin MC, songwriter, arranger, instrumentalist (trombone, ukulele, harmonica, melodica, etc.), producer, studio engineer and label owner (Stubborn Records).
On his newest album Roots Tonic, Django has enlisted an all-star cast of NYCâ€™s finest ska/reggae veterans. The result: twelve crucial roots reggae cuts utilizing tuff original riddims covering a wide range of styles including dark, sultry lovers rock, militant rockers, crisp rub-a-dub deejay, psychedelic dub and even niyabinghi, with complex lyrical structures, and combinations with Rocker T and Dr Ring Ding. Musically, Roots Tonic harkens back to the positive, political reggae of the late 70â€™s/early 80â€™s. That was a time when songwriting was key, conscious lyrics reigned supreme and reggae music was live and full of soul. â€œDancehallâ€ was in its infancy and still resembled reggae, unlike its mostly American hip-hop and R&B influences today. So sit back, take a heavy drink â€“ its 100% organic—and soak up reggaeâ€™s energy, strength, and soul with our cure-all: KING DJANGOâ€™s Roots Tonic on JUMP UP/Stubborn Records (USA)/Bacteria Buffet Records (Canada)/Ska In The World Records (Japan)!
King Django always keeps busy and always has a surprise or two up his sleeve. Drawing on such diverse influences as roots reggae, dancehall, ska, rock, soul, swing, and American and Yiddish folk music, he has always been a hard man to pigeonhole. His versatility within genres of punk, rhythm & blues, and Jamaican grooves is unmatched, starting early as the singer / trombonist of legendary NYC ska band The Boilers (1986-1988), evolving through reggae/soul/punk/jazz experimentalists Skinnerbox (1989-1998), and achieving mainstream recognition as the founder and leader of traditional ska supergroup Stubborn All-Stars (1994-1999). After the ska revival died down, King Django was able to devote his full energy to solo material: Roots and Culture (Triple Crown Records, 1998) combined ska, reggae and traditional klezmer music; while Reason (Hellcat / Epitaph, 2001) was an adventurous, eclectic self-produced album of rock deeply grounded in roots-reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, and drum and bass.
In 2003 and 2004, Django hit the road in support of three releases on three different independent labels. A Single Thread, an 11-year career retrospective, which saw release in three countries (Megalith Records, USA/Ska In The World, Japan/Leech, Switzerland) presents an overview of Djangoâ€™s range of style and capabilities. In 2003, King Django headed to Switzerland to record King Django meets the Scrucialists (Jump Up Records, Chicago/Leech, Switzerland. These sessions unleashed the true lyrical genius that has been inside Django all this time. The result was twelve brilliant slices of political roots reggae, rockers, dub, lovers rock, ska and dancehall, including two combinations with German ska/dancehall superstar Dr. Ring Ding. The American release also includes two exclusive dancehall versions created with the hottest new riddims coming straight out of Jamaica. Version City Sessions (Asian Man Records, California) showcases Djangoâ€™s talents as a producer, engineer and remix artist.
King Django has toured internationally many times over as a solo artist, as the leader of Skinnerbox and Stubborn All Stars and as trombonist for Rancid, The Toasters, and legendary New York City hardcore band Murphy’s Law. In the studio, he has worked closely with fellow NYC pals the The Slackers and Skadanks and recorded with Tim Armstrong, Lars Fredrickson and Matt Freeman of Rancid and Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on Stubborn All Starsâ€™ Back with A New Batch in 1997 (Triple Crown). At about the same time, Django began collecting studio equipment and soon the legendary Version City was born. Within months, a steady flow of bands flocked to this NY mecca to create warm Jamaican vibes with DjangoÂ¹s knowledge, production and engineering skills. Over the years, several “Version City” multi-artist collections have been released worldwide showcasing this unique clique that became the heartbeat of East Coast ska/reggae music. The latest of these is Version City Rockersâ€™ Darker Roots (Antifaz Records, Puerto Rico) which features veteran Jamaican artists such as Sugar Minott, Yabby You and the Prophets, Sister Nancy, Ranking Joe and Cedric Brooks.
When not touring, Django spends a lot of time recording and producing many bands in many genres at his relocated Version City recording studio, now in New Brunswick, NJ. He also performs regularly with his King Django Band, and as a â€œselectorâ€ (DJ) and â€œDJâ€ (MC) with his Version City Sound System, among others.