From August 2nd to August 17th, 2015, four hip hop artists traveled to Dar es Salaam and Stone Tower, Tanzania as part of the Next Level program. DJ Teao “Teao Sense” Thomas, Dancer Karla “Karlita Waackafella” Flores, Beat Maker Kiriakos “YAKO 440” Prodis, and MC Ahmad Ali Lewis joined together to perform for audiences and collaborate with local artists to promote cross-culture exchange and conflict resolution. The team is 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. See more videos of the team performing here.

Kiriakos “YAKO 440” Prodis is a multi-instrumentalist, beatboxer, beatmaker and graffiti writer who has toured six continents as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State.

Yako has released three albums as a duo with MC/beatboxer Baba Israel and they recently helped form the live hip hop/new rare groove quartet Soul Inscribed.

In theater, Yako has created original music for Baba’s “Boombap Meditations” and “The Spinning Wheel Keeps Turning.”

He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and has led music and visual art workshops at home and abroad.

Karla “Karlita Waackafella” Flores  is an artist, activist, and cultural educator from the Bay Area. She first began her dance journey with her “Slug Life/ Rejectz” breakin’ crew and continued onward teaching in Nicaragua with All the Way Live Foundation in 2010.

From her international work, she has learned to value the importance of building and uplifting communities and responsibly preserving culture exchanges through Hip Hop education. Branching out to study other freestyle art forms, she has learned from the originators and famous innovators in New York, Los Angeles, and Montreal and has thus explored the hip hop scenes in Panama, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico.

Recently she has been focused on teaching, producing dance events, and performing with her dance collectives Disco Energi and The Waack Sisters.

From her perspective, Karlita believes dance is the doorway to the soul and that everyone carries a story within.

Teao “Teao Sense” Thompson spent his teen years in the San Francisco Bay Area during the nineties, when underground hip hop was thriving. He could usually be found deejaying, making beats, playing an instrument, or freestyling in rap cyphers. By his early twenties, as a DJ, music producer and multi-instrumentalist, he had developed a worldly, urban, and unique sound to offer to the masses.

In 2002, he founded the international music/artist collective Audiopharmacy Prescriptions, which quickly became an international grassroots movement, studio space, and live band, all of which strive to raise consciousness and global awareness, while building communities through art and music.

Now, after working with many amazing artists and touring areas including Europe, Japan, Indonesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Samoa, Morocco, Oman, Cyprus, Nepal, Philippines, Bali, the UK, Canada, Brazil and more, Teao is currently finishing his multi-media “Audio Cinema” project called “Moment,” while also occupying the roles of US Music Ambassador, music producer, musical director for “Dancing Earth” Indigenous dance company, educator, multi-instrumentalist, video producer, husband and father of two children.

Ahmad Ali Lewis is a social entrepreneur and hip hop artist from South Central Los Angeles. At 17, under the name “Ahmad,” he wrote and performed the classic hip hop song “Back In The Day.” Later, he became the founding member of the hip hop fusion band 4th Avenue Jones. The band was signed to Interscope Records and toured internationally, performing with such notables as Stevie Wonder, The Roots, The Black Eyed Peas, and KRS One.

After 4th Avenue Jones disbanded, Ahmad was accepted to Stanford University, having graduated as valedictorian from Long Beach City College. He is currently a graduate student at the USC School of Social Work.

Ahmad’s latest venture is We Celebrate Life + People or WeCLAP. The WeCLAP mission is to empower communities by forming partnerships designed to explore and engage in social entrepreneurship, education, and advocacy.

Next Level