The first to win VIBE x OurStage.com's "Your Music Featured On VIBE.com" competition, seven-man hip-hop band Dujeous promises to stay down for their crown. Fresh off a performance at 92Y Tribeca in Manhattan, where they payed tribute to special guest Diddy with live versions of his classics, the underground favorites (members are Mojo the Cinematic, Rheturik, Mas D, Taylormade, Dave Guy, Tomek and Apex) sit with VIBE.com to speak on their come up and continual grind. —Jonathan B. Eiseman
VIBE: So where does the name Dujeous come from?
Mojo: It’s actually a word that we all made up (laughs). It’s a term we came up with that means ‘all things good’. Like if you have some fly kicks, those kicks are Dujeous. If you have a song that’s particularly dope, the song is Dujeous.
Apex: The MC’s in the group, they’ve known each other since preschool and elementary school and shit, and they made up the word when they were like six. It’s basically the adjective form of the word ‘dude’ and it somehow stuck as our band name.
How did you guys get together?
Rheturik: We basically started kind of rehearsing as an extension of our music classes in school. We’d rehearse in classrooms, and because we were musicians and people knew how to play instruments, we didn’t really have a DJ or anything, so we kind of just became a rap band. We’ve had different members in and out from the beginning to now but we’ve been solid with this unit for like the past 8 or 9 years.
And when did you start performing?
Mojo: Well when we first started we were literally in high school, so we would do talent shows and sometimes go to other schools. I think the first show we did outside of our high school was at the Harlem School of Arts. And then after that we would just try to play in any club that would let us in before we were legal.
Mojo: Yeah. We actually had opportunity to tour through Asia and Korea with an outfit called the AFE, which is the Armed Forces Entertainment, and that was an incredible experience for us, both musically and personally, and we got to connect with our Armed forces and they’re out there and they’re fighting for us and that was just incredible.
Apex: I think that one of the illest shows that we’ve ever done was this one show we did in Marsailles, which is in the south of France on the Mediterranian. We were basically playing in front of this castle in front of these crazy walls right on the harbor, in front of thousands of fuckin’ people. To experience stuff like that with music is incredible.
You guys are known for a pretty kick-ass live show. What do you think makes you live shows so special?
Mojo: Really, it’s just energy and connection with the audience. It’s all about giving the best possible performance you can give, whether there’s 80 people in the audience or 800 people in the audience. Luckily we’ve had the chance to become seasoned performers, and we’ve had the opportunity to really bring the Dujeous sound to a lot of people, so a lot of it is the energy that we can harness on stage.
What are your biggest influences as a group?
Rheturik: Honestly, we have a lot different influences. There’s so much stuff going on, everything from The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder right up through Native Tongues like A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul. A lot of us will listen to NWA too, which you might not necessarily hear in Dujeous, but it formed our sensibilities. I feel like there’s two main sounds that we aspire to even though we might not end up sounding exactly like that. I feel like with the sound its either like Wu-tang or Native Tongues. Or Jimi Hendrix. It kind of spreads out.
With so many members, are you afraid that you’ll eventually all want to go separate ways?
Mojo: The cool thing about our group that’s very unique is that we’re all pretty tight as friends, even before we started doing music. So even if people do their own thing, produce and have solo albums, I don’t think that well ever lose our unity as a group. We’re definitely a family before a music group.
Apex: And also musically, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When we put all our minds together, it really becomes its own quality. And we’re always gonna want to go back and be able to recreate that quality. It’s a beautiful thing that can really only come together from us putting our heads together.
What can we expect from Day In Day Out?
Apex: For this one we really stepped it up with the production and orchestration. We brought in some new instrumentation, we definitely stepped it up lyrically, there are more wider ranging topics on this one. It’s just an evolution of the Dujeous sound basically.
Rheturik: Yeah, we increased the musicality of it. Like the last one [2004’s City Limits] was all of our first thoughts right on record, so for this one there’s a lot more melody and musicality. There’s a lot of singing on the hooks, and there’s a lot of different instrumentation.
What does the future hold for Dujeous?
Rheturik: We’re really proud of this record that were finishing, and once people get the opportunity to hear it, they’ll see that we’re trying to bring this music way above and beyond just hip-hop. It’s good music, period. And were also just going to try to play in front of as many people and as many types of people as we can.
Dujeous (@Dujeous) is putting the final touches on their sophomore album Day In Day Out, due for release later this year. Their latest single, “Spectacular,” featuring Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, is for sale on iTunes.