Dujeous. Pronounced doo-jee-us. But it's not about their name, it's about who they are: a seven-man band, raised in the ways and days of old New York. Friends since elementary school, the Dujeous crew blew up through the NYC underground, selling out clubs, throwing monthly showcases that featured the best MCs in the Northeast, and burning up the airwaves of the legendary Stretch Armstrong radio show while they were still in high school. Fast-forward a few years and see who they are now: explosive live performers, feared MCs, in-demand musicians, and well-established producers set to unleash their sophomore album Day In Day Out. If you don’t know, now you know.
But it's not about who they are; it's about what they've done. The Duj graduated from hustling demos from streets and stages in 2004, when they sold 20,000 units of their debut album, the acclaimed City Limits. The record reached No. 6 on the CMJ charts and got spins at top stations like NYC's Hot 97 and L.A.'s KCRW. Critics jumped on the bandwagon, calling Limits "groundbreaking" (allhiphop.com) and "a producer's dream" (Time Out NY). Urb named the band one of their "Next 100," while The Source featured them in its venerable Unsigned Hype column. The buzz propelled songs from Limits to the big screen, in movies such as Half Nelson, Blue Crush, Lift, and Kings & Queen, and the small screen, in TV shows such as Entourage, Saved, and Crank Yankers (for which Dujeous produced the theme song, featuring Rhymefest).
Dujeous followed up with the mixtapes Game 7 in 2007 and No Clearance in 2009, which burned up broadband, garnering over 10,000 downloads each and praise on such influential blogs as Nah Right, DJBooth, Brooklyn Vegan and Pitchfork. Meanwhile, onstage, the Duj has busted out of the five boroughs to rock all across North America, Europe, and Asia, with the likes of Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, 311, The Roots, Funkadelic, John Legend, Mobb Deep, Slick Rick, Chali 2na, Wale and countless others. Word of their instrumental and production prowess spread, leading to some serious collaborations: They've played on stage and in the studio for Diddy, Kanye West, Mark Ronson, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Al Green, Skyzoo and Lauryn Hill, and produced for Talib Kweli, Dip Set, Jean Grae, Saigon, Mr. Lif and Keith Murray (see attached discography). It’s easy to see why Mark Ronson called Dujeous "New York’s only hip-hop band worth talking about," why XXL recently named Dujeous one of the top five hip-hop bands, and why WNYC viewers voted them best band in Manhattan.
Impressive, yes. But forget what they've done—it's what they're about to do: release their sophomore album Day In Day Out, taking their music and message forward in leaps and bounds. “We expanded and stepped out of the old formulas, both our own and hip-hop’s,” says Mojo. “New instruments, new guests, and new topics—we really challenged ourselves with this album musically and lyrically.”
Some things have remained constant: MCs Mojo, Mas D, and Rheturik keep the lyrics smart and to-the-point. Bassist Apex and drummer Tomek still provide that lunchroom-table boom-bap, while guitarist Taylormade and trumpeter David Guy (also a member of the Dap-Kings and Menahan Street Band) still bring twisted jazz, funk and rock melodies. But there are new ingredients in the mix: Keyboardist Borahm Lee (Lee Scratch Perry, Matisyahu) has joined the band, bringing spaced-out textures from dub and beyond. Dujeous didn’t stop there—strings, accordion, mellotron and other instruments from around the world have been added to the arsenal. Plus, while Limits was strictly a family affair, Day In Day Out is stocked with contributions from the Duj's talented extended circle, including platinum soulman John Legend, hip-hop provocateur Immortal Technique, and funk queen Sharon Jones, who appears on the album’s latest single and video, “Spectacular,” an inspirational banger punctuated by horn swells, a pulsing back beat, and, of course, Jones’ smoky, charismatic tenor. The video has received heavy airplay on BET’s Centric TV and Video Music Box.
So forget everything else, and remember this: a new-and-improved sound, a new focus, and a new album that will take Dujeous to new eardrums, new stages, new continents, new levels of success. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.