next level

Hip-hop DJs, MCs, beatmakers and dancers from around the world descended on a hotel conference room in Washington, D.C., this spring to learn how to turn their high-energy musical art into tools for empowerment, entrepreneurship and conflict resolution. The program is called Next Level, which teaches “hip-hop diplomacy” and is sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the University of North Carolina’s music department. 

Six international artists in North Carolina this week demonstrate that international diplomacy can come in many different forms. While many may imagine diplomats wearing business suits and sitting in conference rooms, these artists paint a drastically different picture.

PD News takes a look at what China, the UK, India and the U.S. have been up to this week.

This is Suzi Analogue here. If you’re now tuning in, ki kati from Kampala, Uganda. I am here, live in East Africa, from NYC (by way of a handful of other dope East Coast cities) instructing a beatmaking class at a cultural center here for youth. My background is a producer/songwriter. The class is a part of a cultural diplomacy program called Next Level that shares hip-hop around the world as a way for us to promote peace and understanding worldwide.

Sheikia Norris, known lyrically as “Purple Haze”,  was born and raised in the birthplace of Hip Hop itself—the Bronx, New York. Sheikia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education from Johnson C. Smith University, and she has worked in health education and arts education for over eight years.  She was part of the Next Level, a crew of American hip-hop artists who performed at the American Center, Kolkata. She speaks to BE’s Abhijit Ganguly.

Ansley performed in Kolkata as a part of Next level programme. It is an initiative sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in association with the University of North Carolina’s Department of Music. She spoke to BE’s Abhijit Ganguly at the American Centre.