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Mad Dukez

Who?: Buffalo-based freestyle rapper and revered emcee.

Why?: Part of the stable of renowned Buffalo indie label DTR45, Mad Dukez is widely heralded as one of our city's leading lights in the area of freestyle, largely improvised rhyming. It's this skill which likens Dukez to an improv-based jazz musician, and has allowed him to be a prime mover in various forms of hip-hop fusion -- most notably, with Toronto-based trumpeter Brownman and his Western New York-comprised Gruvasylum outfit, which marries hip-hop to jazz, funk, soul and R&B with consummate grace and skill.

What's next: Mad Dukez joins Brownman & Gruvasylum for a gig at 9:30 p.m. tonight in Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.).

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-- Jeff Miers