Starting on October 28th through November 10th, 2018, five hip hop artists traveled to Nigeria as part of the Next Level program. Beatmaker Ami Kim, Dancer Kyle “JustSole” Clark, Graffiti/Aerosol Artist Brandon “Nosey42” Marshall, and MC Christopher “Def-i” Mike-Bidtah joined team manager Junious Brickhouse to perform for audiences and collaborate with local artists to promote cross-culture exchange and conflict resolution. The team was part of a larger Next Level cohort of twenty American MC’s, DJ’s, beat makers, and hip hop dancers leading exchange programs across the globe. You can read more about the artists here. Follow us on social media to stay up to date with our current trip!

Ami Kim (formerly known as jocElyn ellis) is an American music producer, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.  Referring to herself as a “sonic alchemist”, kim is internationally known for improvisational singing adopted from hip hop/spoken word free-styling and a compositional versatility that incorporates American soul, folk, hip hop, jazz and electronic music.

Originally from Durham, NC, Kim made headlines in the region during her climb to the top of its indie music scene through her thought-evoking lyrics and soulful songs resulting in performances with 9th Wonder, Chrisette Michelle, Citizen Cope, Wyclef Jean, Raekwon, Rapsody, Macy Gray, and concerts in over 400 venues and nationally & internationally. A Queen City music award winner and SESAC publisher, Kim released her debut full-length album “Life Of A Hologram” in 2013 that lead up to a hip-hop ambassadorship in Bangladesh and a residency as a cultural ambassador for the US Cultural Affairs Department with the international music incubator Onebeat. In 2015, Charlotte Magazine named her album in it’s “Top 10 Must Own Albums” and in the AfroPunk album review, commentator Ayara Pommells describes kim’s debut work as a “conceptual masterpiece”.

Currently, Kim is traveling to various cities in the US and abroad performing, collaborating, and writing as a topline songwriter & vocalist for while also collaborating with Berlin-based artist 6zm on their side project @DragonsInGardens

Kyle “JustSole” Clark is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He was selected by Rennie Harris for “Puremovement”, and served as its principal dancer and rehearsal director from 2006-2014. Kyle has performed and taught internationally in France, the U.K., Amsterdam, Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, The Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan. Kyle has won and judged battles nationally and internationally: He judged “House Dance Forever” 2015 and 2016 and won a number of competitions in his own right. In April of 2011, Kyle co-founded “Funky Sole Fundamentals” – a workshop series that brought educators and pioneers from around the world to Philadelphia.  Also in 2011, he co-founded Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company where he serves as Choreographer and Artistic Director.

In 2015, Kyle was selected as a premiere choreographer for Ailey II‘s 2015-2016 seasons. His work entitled “I Am The Road” was the first hip hop dance choreographed on Ailey II in its history. In 2016, Kyle was awarded a grant by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for his autobiography “The Life Of A Just Sole”. In 2017, The University Of The Arts awarded Kyle “The President’s Distinguished Teaching Award” for his teaching excellence. Kyle is currently a Professor for three Universities: UArts, Temple U, and Drexel University.

Brandon Marshall is a Tennessee-based aerosol artist with a B.F.A in Graphic Design from the University of Memphis. Since graduating, he has been working as a visual artist specializing in mural-making and public art with a strong focus on community engagement. Marshall’s current professional endeavors stem from an extensive background in the Hip Hop Community as a Graffiti Artist, B-Boy, promoter, and educator. He has secured wall space and painted at mural festivals from Denver to Melbourne, and constantly strives for excellence within each of his artistic practices.

Christopher “Def-i” Mike-Bidtah hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and represents the Diné Nation as an active touring artist. His performance styles range wide from hip hop and spoken word to contemporary Native American acoustic, and has appeared on Eminem’s XM radio station Shade 45, Sway In The Morning on Shade 45, BBC News, National Public Radio (NPR), Vans Warped Tour, PBS, and a number of other hip hop outlets.

Cristopher is also an experienced youth workshop provider and an community activist. He has worked with College, High School, Junior High, and Elementary School students teaching creative writing, song recording, the art of beat-making, and the fundamentals of hip hop culture. Aside from his dedication to hip hop education, he has also supported environmental movements as an activist within the indigenous community. Recently Christopher helped raise over 1.8 million dollars for the legal defense of Water Protectors in Standing Rock via live concert fundraising.

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