Junious “House” Brickhouse is Next Level’s Director and is an internationally established, award-winning urban dance educator, choreographer, community leader, and cultural preservationist. A Virginia Beach, VA native, Junious has a spent over twenty years in dance cyphers and on stages from Oakland, California to Helsinki, Finland to Durban, South Africa. Now based in Washington, DC, Junious furthers his global mission through lecturing, performing, promoting conflict resolution, and producing events for Urban Artistry Inc.
As Founder and Executive Director of Urban Artistry Inc., Junious has inspired and created a movement of artists dedicated to the authentic preservation of urban dance culture and community while finding ways to responsibly innovate.
Kane Smego, Next Level’s Associate Director, is an international touring spoken word poet, emcee, educator, and National Poetry Slam finalist. He is an alumnus of Next Level Zimbabwe, and he has served as the site manager for NL programs in Thailand, Brazil, Morocco, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Dominican Republic.
As a recording artist, Kane has featured on Grammy Award-winner King Mez's debut album My Everlasting Zeal, and topped the Spotify Viral 50 billboard in May 2017 featuring on the song North Cack with 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, fuses rap, poetry, beatboxing, and storytelling in a work of Hip Hop theater. The show premiered at Playmakers Repertory Company in 2018 and was selected to be feature at the United Solo Festival in NYC in October 2019. A native of Durham, NC, Kane currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
Mark Katz, Next Level’s Founding Director, is the Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His scholarship focuses on music and technology, contemporary popular music, musical diplomacy, and the violin.
His work in promoting the arts and music education in underserved communities has been recognized through awards from the Freedoms Foundation, the Hip-Hop Education Center, and Indy Weekly. In 2016, Katz was awarded Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal, which credited him with taking “musicology and hip-hop studies in bold new directions, creating a model of exemplary and ethical scholarship that internationalizes the discipline in productive ways.” In 2017, Katz was awarded UNC’s University Diversity Award for Faculty, recognizing his significant contributions to the enhancement, support and furtherance of diversity and inclusion on campus and in the community.
When he has time, Mark Katz is a violinist, an amateur turntablist, and a DJ at UNC’s radio station, WXYC 89.3 FM.
JaciCaprice Clark is a visionary who faces any challenge with her eyes wide open. She is also an accomplished vocalist/producer who has released a full-length album Storms Come, and an EP entitled LoveLikeWater—both of which she wrote and produced independently—and is currently working on her next album, UNIVERSE, to be released fall 2019. She also writes and produces music for poets, vocalists, and hip hop lyricists in the United States and globally.
Because of her diversity of talents, JaciCaprice is known as a “Swiss army knife” by those who have worked with her. She excels in writing, beat production, musical arrangement, artist development, vocal coaching, graphics production, and much more. Her musical and lyrical styles have been compared to those of Lauryn Hill, Marsha Ambrosius, and Ledisi, yet she continues to create a style of music that is all her own. She believes that “music makes the world go ‘round”, and uses lyrics and rhythm to encourage people from all over the world to connect with one another in perfect harmony. Jaci participated in the first cycle of Next Level as a beatmaker for Team Zimbabwe. Since then, she served as site manager for Next Level Croatia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Australia.
Born and bred in Chicago, Marisol “Pinqy Ring” Vélez first shook hands with the mic at 15 when her love for learning hip hop songs turned into a curiosity to try it for herself. A tough childhood, troubled teens and a catastrophic car accident all worked to mold the young artist into the powerful MC she is today. The accident, which left Pinqy in a coma, served as the defining turning point in her life as she realized that telling her story was paramount. Since then, she has captivated crowds in 15 cities nationally and 8 different countries.
Pinqy Ring is a two-time recipient of the City of Chicago's prestigious Individual Artist Program grant, and the awardee of a 2018 Illinois Arts Council grant. Pinqy prides herself in her lyrical prowess, stage presence, ability to rap in both Spanish and English and her courage to fearlessly share her story and connect with people while doing so.
Through her workshop, The Pinqy Project, she spreads her message of hope, perseverance, and self-worth to youth across the world. As a Latina artist on the rise, Pinqy Ring shines bright with the determination to share her story while encouraging others to find their truth, live in it unapologetically and tell it authentically. She served as an MC for Next Level’s Team Cambodia.
Joe Schloss is an interdisciplinary scholar who studies how people use hip hop culture to develop new perspectives on social, cultural and political issues. A past recipient of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Charles Seeger Prize, he is the author of Foundation: B-Boys, B-Girls and Hip-Hop Culture in New York (Oxford University Press: 2009), and Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop (Wesleyan University Press: 2004/2014), which won the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Book Prize in 2005. His writing has appeared in the anthologies Total Chaos and Classic Material, and magazines including URB, Vibe, The Seattle Weekly, and The Flavor. He teaches at the City University of New York and Princeton University.