From October 12 to October 30, 2017 five hip hop artists traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan as part of the Next Level program. Beatboxer Derick “D.Cross” Cross, Dancer Akim “Akim Funk Buddha” Ndlovu, Graffiti/Aersol Artist Eric “Mr. Trixter” Angeli, and M.C. Tierney “T.R.U.T.H.” Reed joined team manager Jaci Caprice Clark 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.

Derick “D-Cross” Cross is a Brooklyn-based visual and vocal hip hop artist. D-Cross has performed at venues nationally and internationally, including Madison Square Garden and the Lincoln Center. He has been featured on MTV, The Electric Company TV series, Nickelodeon, TV Land, and BET’s 106’s and Park. His talents have also appeared on the award-winning Alfac “Pigeon Rap” ad and 7-Up’s “10” campaign.

D-Cross was the featured artist on Season 3 of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and was the 2002-2003 Spoken Word Grand Champion. D-Cross has also served as an Arts Educator for over two decades. He obtained a Bachelor’s in Fine Art and regularly produces paintings and sculptures.

Akim “Akim Funk Buddha” Ndlovu is a classic hip hop artist, dancer and mc. His holistic approach to hip hop draws from a wide array of cultural traditions and artistic disciplines. Akim Funk Buddha utilizes sounds and movement from  b-boying and beatboxing, to Tuvan throat singing in his performances.

He has performed at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Rubin Museum of Art, Blue Note Jazz Club (New York), BAMcafé Live, Bronx Museum, and Carnegie Hall.

Eric “Mr. Trixter” Angelini is a Los Angeles native who started creating street art (graffiti) at the age of 11. His inspiration derives from skateboarding and hip hop culture in California. His repertoire has expanded to include art, fashion, design, film, and music. His list of clients includes Guess, Nike, Miss Sixty, Energie, Miss Me Jeans, Toyota Scion, HBO and Showtime.

Trixter’s work has appeared in movies, commercials and music videos for recording artists such as Usher, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, T-Pain, 50 Cent, Christina Aguilera, and Macy Gray. His work has also been displayed in San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, The Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, and numerous galleries nationwide and abroad.

In 2001 his work was featured in the documentary “Rock Fresh” on Showtime as well as the new WCA crew documentary.

Tierney “T.R.U.T.H” Reed is a Chicago-based mc and art activist. Her art draws on themes of personal empowerment and social justice. She also facilitates hip hop workshops where she teaches the youth about creativity, self-expression and freedom.

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.

Next Level