Anacron Allen of Los Angeles, California, has over 30 years of experience as a performing rapper and spoken-word artist. He also hosts for the spoken word performance venues “Mental Graffiti” and “The Dandelion Patch”, and has guest-hosted the National Poetry Slam and Chicago’s “Green Mill”. Anacron has taught hip hop evolution and songwriting courses for institutions like Global Roots, and has spent the last decade producing “Unfamous Fest”: an internationally presented celebration of art, music, dance, and food.
Anacron will be on Next Level Team Philippines.
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.
Shirlette was on Next Level Team Serbia.
Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, M.Ed., is a veteran hip hop artist, educator, and youth activist. He has graced stages and recorded with artists such as Pete Rock, Talib Kweli, Raheem Devaughn, Jill Scott, and others, and is widely known for performing the opening theme for the popular TV series, The Boondocks. Due to his other musical contributions to the show, he received the Peabody Award in 2006, becoming the first hip hop artist to receive the prestigious award.
Alongside his career as a hip hop artist, Asheru has served as an educator/administrator in DC Schools for over 15 years, and is well known for his pioneering and innovative efforts to forward the hip-hop education movement, namely through his organizations, Guerrilla Arts Ink, and the Hip-Hop Educational Literacy Program (H.E.L.P.).
Gabriel was on Next Level Team Bangladesh.
Toni Blackman is the first hip hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the U.S. Department of State. Founder of the Freestyle Union and Rhyme like a Girl, and an Echoing Green Fellow, Toni has rocked festivals in South Africa, Senegal, Germany, Spain, Canada, the UK, and France.
In 2014 she did the Pete Seeger Tribute in Central Park NYC, the Blue Note Jazz Fest and the Harlem Arts Festival. Over the years, Toni has shared stages with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, KRS One, the Last Poets, Pharoahe Monch, Vernon Reid, Meshell, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Gokh Bi System, DaBrains, Meta and the Cornerstones, and Youssou Ndour.
She has recorded tracks on Universal Records Jazz, BMG Novus, Big Dada Recordings, and Radio Nova Records. Toni was commissioned by the National Black Arts Festival to write and perform a hip-hop theater piece, “Wisdom of the Cypher”. She is currently preparing to release a book of the same name alongside her hip hop meditation music series.
Toni was on Next Level Team Senegal.
Maddy “MADlines” Clifford is a rapper, writer, educator and youth advocate. She holds an MFA from Mills College, has independently released two EPs, and shared her work widely, including opening for Souls of Mischief and workshopping her poetry with Willie Perdomo.
MADlines currently teaches poetry classes with incarcerated youth in San Francisco.
Her ultimate goal is to leave an indelible footprint in a shifting cultural landscape, one in which young people’s dreams for peace can take root.
Maddy was on Next Level Team Uganda.
Trinise ” AtLas’ “Crowder is an experienced performer and the founder and creator of Intentional Movement, a project that pairs hip hop education with health and physical education. She has facilitated workshops across the United States as well as in Japan, Korea, Guam, and Italy. She has taught thousands of young people across the Tristate area.
As an artist and educator, AtLas’ trained under Ms. Toni Blackman to become a master freestyler and believes in teaching lyrical improvisation as a life skill as a way to empower students to honor their voices.
Her motto is: “If you don’t like what you see change it. If you don’t like what you hear, offer a different perspective. You always have options.”
Trinise was on Next Level Team Brazil.
Tarik “Konshens The MC” Davis is a hip hop artist, songwriter, educator and youth advocate from Washington DC. He is currently an Advisor on the Grammy Chapter Board, Voting Member of the Grammy Recording Academy and Grammy Museum Teaching Artist. He is also the MC of “Classically Dope,” which merges hip hop lyrics with classical arrangements.
He recently performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has been featured on Fox, ABC and CBS networks and Washington Magazine. As an artist and innovator, Konshens The MC stands at the forefront of the evolution of hip hop.
Tarik was on Next Level Team Morocco.
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.
iLLspokinn will be on Next Level Team Turkey.
Mahogany Jones is a recording and performance artist, arts advocate, community activist and educator. Named the only four-time undefeated Champion of BET’s 106 & Park “Freestyle Fridays” in 2001, Jones set about establishing herself as an emcee with a cause appearing on over 30 albums.
In 2012, Jones became an international artist when she was selected by the U.S. Department of State to serve as an official hip hop Ambassador to five nations in Africa. She has since served in Iraq, Kurdistan, Sudan, Brazil, and Haiti.
The native New Yorker is also a writer-in-residence for Detroit’s largest literary arts education nonprofit, InsideOut, and is a facilitator of hip hop based prevention programming with non-profit organization The Yunion. In addition to teaching, mentoring and recording, Jones serves as weekly host and organizer of 5e Gallery’s The Foundation open-mic.
Her latest album, PURE, is dedicated to the healing and empowerment of women.
Mahogany was on Team Bosnia & Herzegovina/Montenegro before serving as a Site Manager with Team Uzbekistan.
Ahmad Ali Lewis is a social entrepreneur and hip hop artist from South Central Los Angeles. At 17, under the name “Ahmad,” he wrote and performed the classic hip hop song “Back In The Day.” Later, he became the founding member of the hip hop fusion band 4th Avenue Jones. The band was signed to Interscope Records and toured internationally, performing with such notables as Stevie Wonder, The Roots, The Black Eyed Peas, and KRS One.
After 4th Avenue Jones disbanded, Ahmad was accepted to Stanford University, having graduated as valedictorian from Long Beach City College. He is currently a graduate student at the USC School of Social Work.
Ahmad’s latest venture is We Celebrate Life + People or WeCLAP. The WeCLAP mission is to empower communities by forming partnerships designed to explore and engage in social entrepreneurship, education, and advocacy.
Ahmad was on Next Level Team Tanzania.
Shasta “Klevah” Matthews is a hip hop artist from Champaign, Illinois. A true student of the culture, Klevah speaks, creates, and lives through hip hop. She uses her gift to speak bluntly about her less-than-perfect background and communicate on issues that affect the world today.
She is also a member of two art collectives, TheGr8Thinkaz and Mother Nature.
Shasta was on Next Level Team Morocco.
Christopher “Def-i” Mike-Bidtah hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and represents the Diné Nation as an active touring artist. His performance styles range wide from hip hop and spoken word to contemporary Native American acoustic, and has appeared on Eminem’s XM radio station Shade 45, Sway In The Morning on Shade 45, BBC News, National Public Radio (NPR), Vans Warped Tour, PBS, and a number of other hip hop outlets.
Cristopher is also an experienced youth workshop provider and an community activist. He has worked with College, High School, Junior High, and Elementary School students teaching creative writing, song recording, the art of beat-making, and the fundamentals of hip hop culture. Aside from his dedication to hip hop education, he has also supported environmental movements as an activist within the indigenous community. Recently Christopher helped raise over 1.8 million dollars for the legal defense of Water Protectors in Standing Rock via live concert fundraising.
Christopher will be on Next Level Team Nigeria.
Chane “Big Piph” Morrow is a Stanford-educated MC and community builder from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He performs regularly with his 7-piece band, Tomorrow Maybe, and has worked with major acts including TI, Big Sean, Snoop, and others.
He is lead coordinator of jUSt and Global Kids-Arkansas, which sends high-performing high school students from underserved communities abroad to do social service projects.
Big Piph facilitates hip hop workshops, is a noted speaker, and recently released “The Legacy Project,” an interactive app-based album.
Chane was on Next Level Team Myanmar.
Azad “Azad Right” Naficy is a Venice, California, native of Iranian descent, son of a divorced blind poet, who grew up playing both the piano and violin, and who holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Irvine.
After spending years honing his skills as a battle rapper and learning about the music business via an internship with Interscope Records, he produced two album-length mixtapes of original material, The Time Is Right (2011) and For the Hopeful (2014). His lyricism on these projects has won him wide acclaim, with Complex magazine even comparing him to his biggest influence, Nas.
He continues to produce music that offers a unique perspective on the culture and presents an opportunity to influence the masses in a positive way.
Azad was on Next Level Team Honduras.
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).
Dumi was on Next Level Team Thailand.
Sheikia “Purple Haze” Norris was born in the birthplace of hip-hop: the Bronx. Currently residing in Newark, New Jersey, Purple Haze challenges audiences with a natural ease and a voice that inspires audience movement and positive thoughts. Purple Haze has mastered her own rich style of spitting lyrics with both power and substance, and she is recognized as a skilled performing and teaching artist.
She has been a Ladies First! Fund grant recipient, a lead artist in NJPAC’s Hip-Hop Institute Summer Program, an Edutainment Program Facilitator & Recruiter for the Hip-Hop Culture Center, a member of the Toni Blackman’s Rhyme Like A Girl Collective (Freestyle Union), and an up and coming curator for hip hop art and performance.
She is currently recording her highly anticipated EP, “pH Balance”.
Sheikia was on Next Level Team India.
Angelique “Giddy” Perez is an international touring spoken-word poet, MC, beatboxer, and teaching artist originally from Brooklyn and now working in Tampa, Florida. In 2016 she was a Cultural Ambassador for the United States and a Spoken Word Immersion Grant recipient. She believes in the power of youth and is a Program Director for Slam Camp at Indiana University, an annual writing summer camp for high school students.
Giddy will be on Next Level Team Guatemala.
Mikiea “Miki Vale” Perkins is an artist, DJ, educator, event producer, and lifelong student of hip hop. Miki Vale’s unique soundscape incorporates hip hop and soul.
Her EP, “The Good, The Bad and the Lovely,” was nominated in 2013 by the San Diego Music Awards for Best Hip hop album. Miki co-hosts an online radio show, The Lovelight Show, and is the touring DJ for San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, fusing hip hop and Shakespeare. Miki is finishing her latest EP, “A Spirit Experience,” and a collaborative album with artist Kandi Cole, “Black Crown.”
Miki Vale has also co-created physical and virtual spaces for women’s presence and engagement with hip hop. In these spaces, she explores the impact of hip hop culture on race, class, and gender, as well as cypher videos and other multimedia archiving women in hip hop.
Mikiea was on Next Level Team Egypt.
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.
Tierney was on Next Level Team Azerbaijan.
Joshua “Rowdy” Rowsey is an underground North Carolina recording artist, actor/improviser, and writer who has been featured on NPR, DJ Booth, and Indy Week. Joshua is a founding member of the national hip hop collective “No9to5 Music”. He initiated the UNC-Chapel Hill cypher, which was nominated for an Indy Week award for best place to listen to Hip Hop in the Triangle. Rowsey has shared the stage with a number of internationally acclaimed recording artists, and has made it his mission to cultivate a thriving hip hop culture in North Carolina.
Joshua will be on Next Level Team Jerusalem.
Divinity Roxx is a songwriter and bass-player in Atlanta, Georgia. In her career playing bass she has performed with the bands of Victor Wooten and Beyoncé, and has appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Grammy’s, and at a special performance at the White House for president Barack Obama. Since then she has been working on solo material and will be an MC with Next Level.
Divinity will be on Next Level Team Dominican Republic.
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.
Deirdre ""D.S. Sense" Smith is an artist, activist, public speaker and entrepreneur with an extensive recording and performance resume. She has worked extensive to promote women’s and LGBT rights. Her music is a reflection of her city (Detroit) and the best it has to offer, complete with emotion and urban innovation. The purpose of her music is to blend and mix all genres of music that have influenced her. By doing so, she hopes to introduce different styles and rhythms to an audience that otherwise would not have acquired these sounds on their own.
Smith has been honored as svmixradio.com’s 2012 Female Performance Artist Of The Year, nominated for a 2004 Detroit Music Award in the best R&B/Soul category, featured in the U.K documentary “Detroit Ghost City,” and profiled in magazines including Eight-O-Eight Magazine, The Michigan Citizen, Metro Times, and Huck Magazine. She continues to entertain and educate through the medium of music with performances and workshops she facilitates in and around her beloved city.
Deirdre was on Next Level Team Colombia.
Moné “Medusa” Smith is the undisputed Queen of West Coast underground hip hop. She has shared the stage with artists including Stevie Wonder, KRS-ONE, George Clinton, Public Enemy, Erykah Badu, Roy Ayers, Common, Meshell Ndegeocello, and MC Lyte.
She was the winner of a 2014 Female Hip Hop Honor Award and a 2014 West Coast Hip Hop Award, as well as honoree of Honolulu’s “Girl Fest,” which dedicated an entire day to Medusa and her accomplishments in music. Usually taking place every November, this all-volunteer non-profit 501(c)3 festival incorporates film, music, art, spoken word, and dance, complemented by a mini-conference involving panels, lectures, outreach workshops for children and adults that address themes such as body image, identity, empowerment, social change and methods on how to prevent violence in relationships, all of which are important themes of Medusa’s work.
Moné was on Next Level Team El Salvador.
Nahshid “One Be Lo” Sulaiman is a writer, emcee, poet, producer, performer, artist, activist and mentor, who has successfully started two record labels and three music production teams and released over ten acclaimed albums over the last twenty years. He recently returned from Cairo, Egypt, where he volunteered at the African Hope Learning Center, teaching literacy, writing, and performing arts to a diverse group of African refugee students from first through eleventh grade.
Nahshid is on Next Level Team Algeria & Tunisia.
Marisol “Pinqy Ring” Velez is a Latina hip hop artist from Chicago, IL who has dedicated her career to creating social change through music. She has performed in notable venues and has been featured on Moral Courage, DNAInfo, Vocalo, WVON, Power 92, Fake Shore Drive and CANTV.
In 2013, Pinqy Ring was given the cover of The HYPE Magazine and in 2014 won the City of Chicago’s Individual Artist grant. In 2016, Pinqy completed an artist residency with The Ragdale Foundation in which she was their first rapper resident. In 2017, she worked closely with actors at DePaul University as a rap coach for the play “Cinderella: The Remix”.
Pinqy Ring was on Next Level Team Cambodia.
Toki Wright is an Emmy Award-winning MC/Producer, radio host, actor, arts ambassador, educator, and community organizer who has toured throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia, and found a place on iTunes Top 100 album charts with his recording A Different Mirror. He has developed many diverse hip-hop education projects including teaching hip hop history and production to young artists in Sierra Leone, and the Hip-Hop Therapy Project, which works with former child soldiers in Northern Uganda.
Wright has released albums through his imprint Soul Tools Entertainment and Rhymesayers Entertainment that charted on the MTV top 50 and the iTunes Hip-Hop charts, among others. Wright is also the Department Head of the United States first fully accredited Hip-Hop Studies program by the National Association of Schools of Music, and recently received an Extra Credit Award from the Hip-Hop Education Center at NYU for Best Transformative Higher Learning Model.
Toki was on Next Level Team Croatia.
George “G” Yamazawa, Jr. is a Durham, North Carolina, native, National Poetry Slam Champion, Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and Kundiman Fellow. He has been a featured performer at over 150 universities including Princeton University, NYU-Abu Dhabi, and The University of Guam. His work has been featured on TV One’s Verses and Flow, the Sundance Film Festival, Beltway Quarterly, and the Pentagon.
He is a founding member of Sacrificial Poets, the largest youth poetry organization in North Carolina, has also served as a teaching artist for the Washington, DC, based non-profit Split This Rock.
George was on Next Level Team Indonesia.