From March 26 to April 9, 2018, five hip hop artists traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia as part of the Next Level program. Beatmaker Michael “Cobaine Ivory” McFadgen, Graffiti/Aerosol Artist Ayumi “SANOizm” Chisolm, Dancer Serouj “Midas” Aprahamian, and MC Marisol “Pinqy Ring” Velez joined team manager Kane Smego 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.
Michael “Cobaine Ivory” McFadgen a classical composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, has had much of his music catalog licensed for national TV spots with brands like Victoria’s Secret, VH1, NBC, Playboy, Bath & Body Works, Comedy Central, MTV, Ubisoft’s video game WatchDogs, Direct TV and one worldwide campaign during the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics for Armani.
As an artist, Cobaine Ivory has toured or shared the stage with artists, such as Action Bronson, Vic Mensa, Big KRIT, August Alsina, Marsha Ambrosius, Hiatus Kaiyote, Rick Ross, and Melanie Fiona. Additionally, Cobaine Ivory’s group, CharlieRED, has worked with brands like Pepsi, Heineken, Hot97, Esquire, Red Bull and SONY Pictures among others. He also won the Abe Olman Scholarship awarded by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Serouj “Midus” Aprahamian has been active in the breaking world since 1997, gaining notoriety internationally for his unique, abstract style. In 2001, together with three other dancers, he produced an influential experimental dance video called “Detours.”
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Midus currently lives in Toronto, Canada, where he is pursuing a PhD in Dance Studies at York University. He also holds a Master’s in International Relations from American University and is conducting research on the impact of hip hop dance in the post-Soviet sphere.
Ayumi “SANOizm” Chisolm hails from East Cleveland, Ohio. He first created hip hop graffiti in 1983 and has since won several awards at international graffiti arts competitions.
Sano volunteers with JUiCE, a community non-profit, and the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office gang prevention programs. He actively showcases his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the El Segundo Museum of Art. He also maintains his own art studio and is a studio assistant for legendary contemporary artist Henry Taylor.
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.
Marisol “Pinqy Ring” Velez is a Latina hip hop artist from Chicago, IL who has dedicated her career to creating social change through music. She has performed in notable venues and has been featured on Moral Courage, DNAInfo, Vocalo, WVON, Power 92, Fake Shore Drive and CANTV.
In 2013, Pinqy Ring was given the cover of The HYPE Magazine and in 2014 won the City of Chicago’s Individual Artist grant. In 2016, Pinqy completed an artist residency with The Ragdale Foundation in which she was their first rapper resident. In 2017, she worked closely with actors at DePaul University as a rap coach for the play “Cinderella: The Remix”.