On October 6th through October 22nd, 2018, five hip hop artists traveled to Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey as part of the Next Level program. Dancer Melanie Aguirre, DJ Kevin “DJ Kevie-Kev Rockwell” Carson, Graffiti/Aerosol Artist Lance “LJ…Art” Johnson, and MC iLLspokin 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. Follow us on social media to stay up to date our latest trip!

Melanie Aguirre is a native New Yorker, founder of Rep Your Style, and young community leader in New York City. Melanie provides the NYC Dance community with dance competitions, community discussions, charity fundraisers, workshops, and job placement services. She teaches multiple dance styles within the tri-state area, nationally, and internationally. Through her company Rep Your Style, she directs theatrical performances and museum tours. She was selected in 2017 for a cultural exchange program in Paris, France, at La Place Hip Hop cultural center. With these different avenues of outreach, she has been able to inspire creativity through her work.

Kevin “DJ Kevie-Kev Rockwell” Carson Is a Harlem-based DJ that was been performing since the early 1980s. In 1982, Kevin was invited to work on the soundtrack for one of the very first hip hop films: “Wild Style”. Along with constant performing in a variety of groups, he is the DJ for “Video Music Box” and its spin-off “16 BARS”. His contributions to the Harlem community has earned him a number of awards, including recognition in “The Hip Hop Expression of Black History” from Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 2018, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal gave Kevin a Certificate of Recognition at the Annual Hip Hop Expression of Black History. Kevin continues to engage with the world of hip hop to DJ for a number of venues throughout the tri-state area.

Lance Johnson is a graffiti artist based in New York City who uses his work as a vehicle for urban development and a celebration of urban life. His practice involves using improvised collage to draw stories from the combination of seemingly random imagery. Lance is passionate about making vibrant and thought-provoking work that draws from the past to provide insight to the present.

iLLspokinn is an international performer, songwriter, and organizer in New York City. His songs have been featured in several television commercials, including a promotion for NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics. Corey has been a featured performer at the Atlantic Music Expo in Cabo Verde, the Timitar Festival in Morocco, and the NBA’s London games in 2015, 2016, and 2018. In NYC, he is a co-founder of “Urban Art Beat” – a platform for creative expression that partners talented artists and dedicated volunteers with underserved school and organizations. He also works with “Arts By The People”, holding bi-weekly rap and percussion workshops with senior citizens. iLLspokinn is also the producer, host, and co-founder of “Freestyle Mondays”, the longest-running hip hop event with a live band in New York City, the popularity of which has allowed his to launch versions in France and the Czech Republic.

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