From February 19th to February 29th, 2015, four hip hop artists traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe as part of the Next Level program. Beat Maker Jaci Caprice Clark, Dancer Kenneth “Ken Fury” Marez Jr., MC Kane “Novakane” Smego, and DJ Juan G 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.
Jaci Caprice Clark captures the spirit of hip hop in rhythmic measure. Raised a Buckeye who currently resides amongst Wolverines, she currently lives just outside of Detroit, Michigan, where she is a member of 5e’ The Foundation, which celebrates women in hip-hop. She also hosts her own internet radio show “The Soul Studieux”, which heralds over 100,000+ listeners to the station, and is dedicated to stimulating the mind, grooving the body, and uplifting the soul through the arts, education, activism, and music.
She is also an accomplished vocalist/producer who released a full-length album entitled “Storms Come” (2007), and an EP entitled “LoveLikeWater” (2012), both which she wrote and produced independently.
She has shared the stage with such artists as Karen Clark-Sheard, Canton Jones, K-Drama, Miz Korona, and many others. Jaci also writes and produces music for a diversity of artists which include poets, vocalists, and hip-hop lyricists.
Kenneth “Ken Fury” Marez Jr., self-taught dancer and artist, was raised in Pueblo, Colorado and began dancing at age 11. After high school, he moved to NYC to perform in the dance company Full Circle Productions, where he performed theatre pieces.
He has trained and learned from some of the originators of Breaking, such as the legendary Wayne Blizz (The Executioners, The NYC Float Committee) and Kwikstep (“Full Circle”) to name a few. Ken has competed in and judged some of the top competitions around the world and taught workshops in the US and abroad.
Ken Fury’s vision is not only to be the best dancer he can be, but to inspire others to push beyond the limits of the mind and body.
Juan Gomez is a multi-faceted artist—DJ, photojournalist, musician, rights advocate, and event coordinator—who currently resides in Oakland, California. A self-proclaimed child of hip-hop, he has garnered all of his experiences and research to demonstrate, musically, the far-reaching effect hip-hop has had in African music.
As a DJ, he’s been recognized internationally as a championing voice for both old and new popular music coming out of the African continent. Along with the countless events he has done in the West Coast, he’s also held down popular DJ residencies in both Ghana and South Africa, has done guest DJ appearances in Nairobi, is the primary curator for the Digging4gold archival music blog and photo project, and is the creative director for the UMOJA African Festival in Oakland.
As a photojournalist and researcher, he has worked with archival institutes in Ghana to document the musical linage of Ghanaian highlife, with much of his work focused on the syncretistic nature shared among African music and current musical trends from the Caribbean, Latin America, and the West. His work has been featured in several exhibitions and music magazines throughout London, South Africa, and the US.
Kane Smego is spoken word and Hip Hop Artist, a National Poetry Slam finalist, and educator. Originally hailing from North Carolina, he has performed and run programs all across the U.S., and abroad on five continents.
As a recording artist, Kane has featured on Grammy Award-winner King Mez's debut album alongside production by J. Cole and Soundtrakk, and topped the Spotify Viral 50 billboard in May 2017 featuring on the song North Cackwith G Yamazawa. The music video for the song appeared on “BET Jams”, and went on to win Best Music Video at the Hip Hop Film Festival in Harlem, NY.
Kane’s one-man show, Temples of Lung and Air, premiered at Playmakers Repertory Company in 2018 and fuses rap, poetry, beatboxing, and storytelling in a work of hip hop theater.
During his time in North Carolina, Kane co-founded the award-winning youth arts nonprofit, Sacrificial Poets. He seeks to inspire youth and adults to tell their own stories, and challenges them to transform themselves and their communities through the use of the spoken and written word. A native of Durham, NC, Kane currently resides in Los Angeles, California.