From May 20 to June 7, 2014, hip hop artists Sheikia “Purple Haze” Norris (MC), Ansley “Jukeboxx” Jones (Dancer), Lester “DJ 2-Tone Jones” Wallace (DJ), and Korin “KØ!” Wong-Horiuchi (Beatmaker) traveled to Patna and Kolkata, India as part of the Next Level program. In Patna, U.S. artist-educators worked with the students of St. Karen’s High School, using hip hop music and dance to foster leadership, community engagement, and conflict transformation. They also worked with students to mix folk music and dances of India with hip hop moves and beats to create their own style and art. Next Level’s Team India, along with program videographer Anshul Gupta, worked with the students at St. Karen’s to identify important social issues related to gender, the environment, and civic engagement, which became the subjects of three video Public Service Announcements (PSAs).
In Kolkata, the artist-educators held workshops in emceeing, DJing, beatmaking, and dance at the American Center. With the help of Malabika Brahma, an alumna of the cultural exchange program OneBeat, the team created “BaulBeats”, a new style of music combining Baul (Bengali folk) and hip-hop. The final public performance in Patna, which attracted 3,000 audience members, showcased the PSAs and skills acquired by the students, as well as collaborative performances featuring the Next Level artists and local Indian folk performers.
Team India is part of a larger Next Level cohort of American MCs, DJs, beatmakers, and hip hop dancers seeking to create global community through hip hop culture.