From February 12nd to February 28th, 2016, four hip hop artists traveled to Surat Thani, Ko Samui, and Chiang Rai, Thailand as part of the Next Level program. Dancer Jeff “Toyz Are Us” Chang, DJ Dan “Dirty Digits” Chaves, Beat Maker LoShondra “RyNea Soul” Hemphill, and MC Dumisani “Dumi RIGHT” Ndlovu joined together to perform for audiences and collaborate with local artists to promote cross-cultural creative exchange and conflict transformation. The team is part of a larger Next Level cohort of twenty American MCs, DJs, 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.
LaShondra “RyNea Soul” Hemphill mentors young girls between the ages of seven and eighteen in music production through her organization, the SheShockHipHop Academy, which is sponsored by the Initiative for Creative Arts.
She facilitates beat making workshops at community centers throughout the Birmingham, Alabama, metropolitan area and has been invited to share her expertise on working with youth via music throughout the United States.
She views beat making as an ideal thought-provoking medium in which to tell stories and express our loves, obsessions, dreams, fears and desires.
Geoff “Toyz Are Us” Chang is one of the most acclaimed b-boys in the U.S. scene today. He has spent the past fifteen years building a reputation as an inspirational dancer of his time. A second generation b-boy of the Lionz Of Zion crew, he has preserved the knowledge of the old school techniques of his fellow crewmates while infusing it with a new school twist.
Considered a veteran in the game, Toyz has won numerous competitions with his well-rounded style, including the Rock Steady Crew Anniversary 2006, Chelles Battle Pro 2009, Hip-Opsession 2010, International Hip-Hop Addict 2011, and Break The Floor 2012. He has solidified his international status on the battleground against the best of the best, and prides himself on being well respected by both friends and adversaries.
Dan “Dirty Digits”Chaves is Academy Director at Scratch DJ Academy NYC, as well as Director of the Academy’s Turntablism Program, providing scratching curriculum for the school’s five locations nationwide, including LA, Chicago, Atlanta & Miami. A DJ since his early teens, he has subsequently built a career teaching and performing around the world.
Since 2007, he has also worked extensively with Black Girls Rock!, a youth outreach program that promotes confidence and inspires creativity among underprivileged inner-city girls from the ages of 12 to 15, though the art form of deejaying.
Dumisani “Dumi RIGHT” Ndlovu is a standard bearer for global hi -hop. He was first introduced to audiences during hip hop’s golden age as a member of Zimbabwe Legit, one of the first African hip hop groups to gain international recognition.
In the years since, he has remained immersed in the culture and business of hip hop, releasing a number of noteworthy album projects and performing all across the country and on the world stage. Over the years, he has also served as point person for several events involving music, arts and culture, interacting with organizations and artists from a variety of different countries.
His craft is steeped in classic hip hop styles, with thought-provoking lyrics and poignant wordplay over a backdrop of rugged beats from some of the underground’s finest producers. The scope and scale of his work exhibits broad geographic and cultural diversity with collaborations with artists from across the globe as well as notable U.S. hip hop luminaries (including the likes of the Jungle Brothers, Chubb Rock, Vast Aire, YZ and more).
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.