DJ Super Duke began his illustrious career for noble reasons. “I did it at first for the girls,” he says, “and I love music.” His love of girls and music has made the 22 year-old turntable master the premier disc jockey for the Boston area. Ask anyone. Boston’s biggest entertainment complex, The Palace, the Bahamas Beach Club, Jay-Z, Wyclef and Spragga Benz all call on Super Duke to get the dancefloor jumping with his unique mix of hip-hop, R&B, dancehall, roots reggae and salsa. “I’m versatile and wicked n’ wild—I can play for everybody and anybody,” says Duke. “I can be playing a hip-hop tune then mix in a [Haitian] compas or a some old school shit.” And it gets the crowd grooving. Every time.
Born Jean Carducci Chery in Haiti, Super Duke was immersed in music as far back as he can remember. “My family functions always had loud compas music playing,” he says. “My father had a wide collection of vinyls and he played them all the time. As soon as I was old enough, I was going to the bals (live shows).” Duke grew up listening mostly to the guitar-driven compas coming out of his homeland. Soon its live instrumentation drove him to branch out to the merengue coming from right next door in the Dominican Republic and the reggae sounds floating in from the neighboring Caribbean islands.
It wasn’t until Duke came to New York that Yankee music got a hold of his ears. “My earliest experience with hip-hop was when I went to Hollis, Queens back in ’84,” he remembers. “My cousin was a DJ and he had records by Run-DMC and LL Cool J, who lived up the street.” It was also in NY that Duke first learned how to rock parties. Well, kinda, sorta. “Back then, I would just record things on the radio and TV and bring the audiocassettes and videotapes to back to Haiti,” he says. “But I used to rock little neighborhood parties with those tapes.”
When Duke returned to the States, his family settled down in Boston, then a town with very few outlets for urban culture. “Boston was dead as far as any black lifestyle and culture,” he recalls. “There was no hip-hop station, no local mixtape king, no DJ icon.” Not one to complain, Duke purchased his first wheels of steel: twin Gemini XL BD10’s. He was 15. “I rocked every house party, every living room in Boston,” he says.
“I got my first gig at The Palace when I was 17.” Around this time, Duke also began to be requested at College parties in neighboring towns. But just as he was making a name for himself, higher learning called Duke. He attended UMASS on a full scholarship. Ever resourceful, Duke began to branch out into the mixtape scene. “I still wanted to make my presence felt in the market and also reach places I couldn’t DJ,” he says. “I was studying, struggling and hustling in college. I did all the frat parties, all the different student organization parties, two college radio stations. I was the Reggae Music Director at WJUL 91.5 and we had industry recognition because we used to report to CMJ [College Music Journal].” But there may have been a little too much hustling. “I got into so many activities, got into the music so much I ended up losing my scholarship and came back home.”
It was while back in Boston when the dream of Super Plus Movement was born. “I had a couple of friends in the hood who were musically inclined and were into the same thing I was,” he recalls. “The idea was great, a dream team of DJs. We were all Super DJs, each an expert in their field— hip-hop, reggae, compas, salsa, merengue. I selected reggae because I had mastered the mixing of reggae early on in the game. But after a couple of the guys didn’t share the dream anymore, I had to expand my horizons and learn more hip-hop and Latin music. As far as Super Plus, the dream and company are still alive, but only Super Black and I are reppin’ until DJ Case gets out of the Navy.” DJ Superduke is reppin’ hard. He’s played at every club in Boston—Europa, Jukebox, The Palace, Hollywood KTV, Copa Grande and 3C’s—as well as Chocolate City and Demorah’s in Manhattan. Record labels like Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam, Ruff Ryders, Arista, and Universal all 2-way Duke when they need a song broken in the area. He still hits the college circuit, pleasing co-eds at institutions like NorthEastern, Simmons, MIT, Tuft, BU, Wellesley, NYU, Stony Brook and Hofstra on a regular. And when he’s not holding it down at the local spot Café Creole or Dublin House, you can find him at The Bahamas Beach Club catering to 5,000 satisfied party-goers.
And the girls? “I got my first share but I’m just getting started,” he says. “I guess there’s more girls coming in the future. ” And more hot jams from DJ Super Duke.