DOUBLE TIGER - THE JOURNEY
After dropping his Easy Star Records debut album Sharp & Ready to critical acclaim, Double Tiger (Jay Spaker) is back with The Journey, which is his most diverse and personal collection to date. The album is due on December 11th and features an all-star lineup of artists including Slightly Stoopid, The Movement, Ranking Joe, Elliot Martin (John Brown’s Body), Suckarie (New Kingston), and Karim Israel (Arise Roots).
It has been a tumultuous couple of years for Spaker, and the music on The Journey reflects this. He began writing and recording the record when John Brown’s Body (for which he was guitarist/vocalist) was winding down and going on hiatus. He had recently moved to Los Angeles after a lifetime of living in New York (both upstate and in the city).
The sound of the tunes manage to capture this balance between his East coast roots and the West coast sound he was suddenly immersed in, with a good portion of the album heavily influenced by California life, the ocean, mountains, and the vibrant left coast culture. As Spaker puts it, “this album is a blend of the many styles of reggae that inspire me. The previous one was straight rub a dub focused. When I got to L.A., I was in a more open place and started exploring other aspects I had always loved – like lovers rock, rockers – but never really messed with in my own writing.”
While mixing and finishing the record, Double Tiger had to relocate back to Ithaca, NY, to care for his father, who was battling an illness that eventually took his life in August 2020. Add in the situation around COVID-19 and the shutdown of the touring industry – a mainstay of Spaker’s musical career – and this record becomes the soundtrack of an even bigger journey for the veteran artist.
Besides being well known for his involvement with John Brown’s Body, Spaker is also half of Tour De Force, and co-founder of the hip Franco/Brooklyn sound system-focused label Dub Stuy Records. Spaker has also collaborated with legendary artists such as Luciano, Johnny Osbourne, Sly & Robbie, Brother Culture, Omar Perry, Al Campbell. Lutan Fyah, Eek A Mouse, and Scientist, contributing to a prolific output of releases.
You can hear Double Tiger pushing through a diversity of styles on the thirteen track album as he tackles heavier topics from politics and society to universal themes of love and humanity. “Drop Sound,” featuring Slightly Stoopid, is an anthem for all of the hard working musicians who tirelessly travel the globe to give musical “medicine” to the people.
A song that reminds us why live music is so important and looks to future times when we can all gather again to listen. “Universal Love,” featuring Karim Israel of Arise Roots, is about how humanity seems to cling to fear-based thinking, but instead if we had a universal love and saw everyone as family, how that would make a more beautiful world. Switching things up is “Rub A Dub Party,” featuring Suckarie of New Kingston, bringing old school house party vibes. The fourth single to drop before the album is “Shadow Dweller,” featuring The Movement, which is about those that secretly want to see you fail. It’s a reminder to stay positive and to not deal with this type of energy.
The Journey showcases an artist hitting their stride, as Double Tiger creates one of the most exciting reggae albums of 2020. With his diverse background and different approaches to reggae, there aren’t many artists in the U.S. scene that sound much like Double Tiger. His vocal styles hearken back to reggae stars like Sugar Minott and Frankie Paul, from the earliest days of dancehall, while his music brings a fresh approach influenced plenty by current trends in the genre. Double Tiger concludes, “I am very privileged to make music and believe in its power to heal and bring folks together. This last year has been powerfully transformative with my father’s passing, COVID, etc. so having this album finally out in the world is a blessing and I would like to dedicate this one to Pops.”