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Next Level US Hip Hop Exchange Returns to Zimbabwe : Join the 2024 Academy

Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE), a gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.

Next Level US Hip Hop Exchange Returns to Zimbabwe : Join the 2024 Academy

Next Level is a dynamic initiative by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center, dedicated to leveraging the universal language of Hip Hop music and dance to foster cross-cultural creative exchange. By working with U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, Next Level creates impactful two-week residencies targeting underserved communities and youth, particularly in regions where access to cultural and artistic resources is limited.

The program assembles teams of four American Hip Hop artist-educators, who collaborate with local organizations and musicians to conduct workshops, lecture-demonstrations, and master classes. These activities culminate in both formal and informal live performances, designed to encourage the mutual exchange of knowledge, values, and respect between American artists and local communities. The workshops, which span several hours each day, emphasize the development of musical and entrepreneurial skills and promote strategies for conflict transformation. Each residency concludes with a public performance, and professional-grade musical equipment is donated to local partners to support ongoing learning and artistic growth.

Since its inception in 2014, Next Level has facilitated successful exchange programs in over 50 countries across six continents, including U.S. residencies for artists from these international programs. Notably, the program made its debut in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2015, and is set to return in 2024.”

Next Level Returns to Zimbabwe

In 2024, five distinguished Hip Hop artists will travel to Zimbabwe as part of the Next Level program. The team, consisting of Lady Beast (Dancer), Dee-1 (MC), Nick Neutronz (DJ), and Krithi (Beatmaker), along with Site Manager Aysha Upchurch, will engage with local artists and communities to foster cross-cultural creative exchange and promote conflict transformation through the arts. Team Zimbabwe is part of a larger Next Level cohort, featuring American MCs, DJs, beatmakers, and Hip Hop dancers committed to building a global community through Hip Hop culture.

RECAP: Between February 14 and February 29, 2015, Hip Hop artists Kane Smego (MC), Juan Gomez (DJ), JaciCaprice (Beatmaker) and Kenneth “Ken Fury” Marez (Dancer) with Site Manager Paul Rockower traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe as part of the Next Level program.

Open Call for Zimbabwean Artists

Next Level is extending an open call for Zimbabwean Hip Hop dancers, MCs, beat-makers, and DJs to apply for participation in the Next Level Academy. This immersive program, held from July 8 to July 18, 2024, at the Zimbabwe College of Music, will include 10 days of intensive workshops led by the American artist-educators. The program will culminate in a final concert performance on July 19 at the 7 Arts Theatre in Harare. Selected participants will receive comprehensive instruction in their chosen artistic discipline, focusing on skill-building and entrepreneurship.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Age: 18-35 years old
  • Language: Spoken English
  • Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced in dance, beatmaking, DJing, or emceeing
  • Commitment: Selected participants must attend all academy workshops and the final concert

Workshop Schedule:

  • Dates: July 8-19, 2024
  • Time: Monday through Friday, 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
  • Final Showcase: July 19, 6:30-8:00 PM

Application Details:

  • Application Open Date: May 29, 2024
  • Application Closing Date: June 10, 2024

Apply here:

Meet the Next Level Team Zimbabwe

Lady Beast: A seasoned dancer who has been an integral part of the Poppin’/battle dance scene on the East Coast and in Canada for 16 years. She has shared stages with icons like Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Ciara, and was a trailblazer as one of the first females to reach the Poppin’ finals at Hip Hop International. Lady Beast is also the founder of 2 ILL 2 CHILL, a fundraiser competition offering a dance platform for all generations.

Dee-1: A New Orleans-born MC currently completing the Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship at Harvard University. Dee-1 has released nine albums, several of which have charted on Billboard. He has played a significant role in shaping policy for the success of Black men and boys in Louisiana and has led a Hip Hop financial literacy tour. In 2023, he co-founded “Catch and Release” with Lupe Fiasco, focusing on Hip Hop as a field activity at MIT and Harvard.

Nick Neutronz: An accomplished electronic musician, producer, DJ, and classically trained pianist with extensive experience as an educator and mentor. His credits include collaborations with Eminem and Lee “Scratch” Perry, and he has been a guiding force for many champion DJs and professional musicians.

See Also

Krithi: A versatile producer, remix artist, and DJ who blends sounds from the Indian Subcontinent with electronica, Hip Hop, and dance music. She is also a singer-songwriter focused on Jazz and Carnatic music and works with organizations like Building Beats and Beats by Girlz NYC to provide opportunities for marginalized communities.

Aysha Upchurch: The Dancing Diplomat, a dancer, and educator dedicated to youth advocacy, social justice, and transformative education. She teaches at Harvard University and has launched HipHopEX, an intergenerational lab exploring Hip Hop arts in education.

Next Level, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy of Zimbabwe, the United States Department of State, and the Meridian International Center and the implementing partner Jibilika Dance Trust invites Zimbabwean artists to join this unique opportunity to connect and grow through Hip Hop culture. For more details, visit Next Level Team Zimbabwe.

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Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE)
A gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.
Truly, for the culture.

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