From November 17th to December 5th, 2016, five hip hop artists traveled to Bandung and Jakarta, Indonesia as part of the Next Level program. MC George “G” Yamazawa Jr., DJ Erica “Amerriica aka Misamerriica” Parpan, Beat Maker Vincent “Gyrefunk” Czekus, and Dancer Haleem “Stringz” Rasul joined team manager Junious Brickhouse 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.
Vincent “Gyrefunk” Czekus is a heavy contributor to the Bay Area’s modern funk scene who is well known for his all around musical chops and production. From laying down guitar licks to clever keyboard chord progressions, his combination of futuristic funk and classic soul aesthetics has landed him performances with Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas, B2K, and Far East Movement, to name a few.
He is also cofounder of TRKRNR, an upcoming music group consisting of futuristic sounds from a carefully curated list of contributing artists.
Recently, GYREFUNK collaborated with Lookwright Manufacturing to build a one-of-a-kind hybrid instrument that looks like a device from Darth Vader’s closet. Dubbed the Vinstrument, you can catch GYREFUNK playing it for audiences throughout the SF Bay Area.
Junious “House” Brickhouse is Next Level’s co-director and is an internationally established, award-winning urban dance educator, choreographer, community leader, and cultural preservationist. A Virginia Beach, Virginia, native, Junious has a spent over twenty years in dance cyphers and on stages from Oakland, California to Helsinki, Finland, to Durban, South Africa. Now based in Washington, DC, Junious furthers his global mission through lecturing, performing, promoting conflict resolution, and producing events for Urban Artistry Inc.
As Founder and Executive Director of Urban Artistry Inc., Junious has inspired and created a movement of artists dedicated to the authentic preservation of urban dance culture and community while finding ways to responsibly innovate.
Haleem “Stringz” Rasul began his dance career in the mid 1990s with a concentration on breakin’, hip hop’s original dance form. After exploring dance in other communities across the U.S., Stringz gained more appreciation for Detroit’s own dance innovation, the Jit. As a dance, the Jit combines high-energy footwork and arm syncopations that can be done both standing and on the floor, creating a dynamic aesthetic all under a unique groove. According to Stringz, “This is Detroit’s hip hop dance.”
Stringz is a front-runner of positive cultural exchange in his native Detroit and abroad. He has traveled all over the world showcasing Detroit’s dance and story and believes it can promote connections between people and communities.
Erica “Amerriica aka Misamerriica” Parpan began deejaying in 1997, inspired by DJs from the Bay Area to LA (whose styles combined party-rocking and turntablism), and hip hop during the Golden Era of the eighties and nineties. Even well into adulthood and the new digital age, Misamerriica is continually digging for records, working on mixes, scratching and beat-juggling.
She co-hosts an online radio show in Oakland, CA, Accepted Eclectic, on alldayplay.fm and also works with Skratchpad, an open turntable and DJ-centered hip hop event, in San Francisco, CA, that is devoted to preserving hip hop culture, elevating the art of deejaying, and connecting the music, culture, & people.
George “G” Yamazawa, Jr. is a Durham, North Carolina, native, National Poetry Slam Champion, Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and Kundiman Fellow. He has been a featured performer at over 150 universities including Princeton University, NYU-Abu Dhabi, and The University of Guam. His work has been featured on TV One’s Verses and Flow, the Sundance Film Festival, Beltway Quarterly, and the Pentagon.
He is a founding member of Sacrificial Poets, the largest youth poetry organization in North Carolina, has also served as a teaching artist for the Washington, DC, based non-profit Split This Rock.