From October 12 through 30, 2017, hip hop artists Tierney “T.R.U.T.H.” Reed (MC), Eric “Mr. Trixter” Angelini (Graffiti/Aerosol Art), Akim “Funk Buddha” Ndlovu (Dance), Derick “D Cross” Cross (Beatbox), and site manager JaciCaprice Clark traveled to Baku and Mingachevir, Azerbaijan. The Next Level Academy, hosted by Harmony Dance Studio, offered workshops in emceeing, graffiti/aerosol art, dance, and beatboxing. Throughout their time in Azerbaijan, Next Level artist-educators collaborated with local artists and key community figures, including H3, a jazz/hip hop fusion band, and Azer Selimov and the Mugam Trio. Team Azerbaijan also participated in the Baku Jazz Festival’s open mic series and performed at the Caspian Style Jam’s break and hip hop battles. In addition, the artist-educators conducted community/outreach events at the Azerbaijan State Art Academy and Azerbaijan State University of Art and Culture.
The Next Level artist-educators, along with site manager JaciCaprice, Next Level’s Director Emeritus Mark Katz, and Cultural Affairs Specialist Fargani Aliyev were all invited to appear on the “Yeni Gun” Morning Show on a popular television station in Baku. The final performances, which featured Next Level artist-educators and student-collaborators, were well-received by audiences in both Baku and Mingachevir. Next Level’s Team Azerbaijan is part of a larger Next Level cohort of American MCs, DJs, beat makers, and hip hop dancers who seek to build global community through hip hop culture.