From July 23rd to August 6th, 2014, four hip hop artists traveled 12 days to Belgrade, Serbia and 3 days to Novi Sad as part of the Next Level program. MC Shirlette Ammons, DJ Christopher “DJ B*Money” Behm-Meyer, Beat Maker Joseph “Diamond D” Kirkland, and Dancer Jorge “Pop Master Fabel” Pabon joined together 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.

Joseph “Diamond D” Kirkland has created an extensive body of discography, including a GRAMMY® Award in 1996 for his production contribution on the Fugees LP “The Score” (which won Best Rap Album) and was nominated a second time for a GRAMMY® Award in 2008 for co-production on Natalie Cole’s cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Day Dreaming”.

In 2010, XXL MAGAZINE named him among their top ten producers who rhyme. In 2011, Source Magazine named him among the Top Ten producers who rhyme and in 2013 he was presented with the iStandard Producers “Living Legend” award.

He is one of the few artists respected as a producer, MC, and DJ. He has also scored music and worked on several motion picture soundtracks.

Jorge “Pop Master Fabel” Pabon was born and raised in NYC’s Spanish Harlem. He is a senior member of the Rock Steady Crew and an honorary member of the Electric Boogaloos. Fabel was also a co-founder of GhettOriginal Productions Inc. and co-author, co-director, and co-choreographer of the first Off-Broadway hip-hop musical ever, titled “Jam on the Groove”. Along with fellow members of the Rhythm Technicians and The Rock Steady Crew, he won the 1991 Bessie Award for choreography.

Fabel gained world renown as a featured dancer in the hip hop cult classic movie, “Beat Street”. As an adjunct professor, he teaches movement in the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Fabel delivers lectures, demonstrations, master classes, and participates in outreach programs and conferences internationally. He regularly teaches Popping, Locking, and other dance forms associated with hip hop in various dance studios, community-based organizations, schools and universities.

Fabel is a legend, pioneer, historian, and activist within hip-hop culture. He also expresses himself as a graffiti and digital artist, film maker, videographer, editor, and DJ.

Christopher “DJ B*Money” Behm-Meyer got inspired to climb the risers after watching old DMC battle videos and listening to DJs on the radio. Before long he was fighting those battles himself, DJing on the radio, and appearing in the same series of videos he grew up watching. Radio and battling exposed him to wide range of audiences and helped land him gigs playing at festivals, clubs, and venues throughout the United States while sharing stages with artists such as The Roots, The Pharcyde, Souls of Mischief, and The X-Ecutioners.

With a heavy emphasis on constantly honing his turntablist skills, he has been recognized as a DMC USA National Finalist and has backed and toured with several groups as a show DJ.

Currently he spends his time teaching DJing to at-risk youth, hosting a monthly party, and staying busy in the studio.

Shirlette Ammons is a Durham, North Carolina, based poet and musician. Her most recent hip hop solo debut album, Twilight for Gladys Bentley, a “re-imaging” of 1920’s blues singer Gladys Bentley, was released in 2013 by Berlin-based record label, Springstoff Records.

She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a 2013 recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship. Shirlette has toured Germany, Switzerland, and Austria as part of the Purple Velvet International Female Hip-Hop Tour with all-female emcees representing three continents: sookee (Germany), Lex La Foy, and DJ Doowap (South Africa).

Shirlette also serves as Youth Arts Coordinator at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina, offering arts everyday after school to hundreds of young artists in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and surrounding areas.

Next Level