Mark Katz, Next Level co-director, is the Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Arts and 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.
Junious “House” Brickhouse is Next Level’s co-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 is Next Level’s Associate Director, 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.
Jaci Caprice Clark
Jaci Caprice 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 entitled “Storms Come, and an EP entitled “LoveLikeWater--both of which she wrote and produced independently—and is currently working on her next album entitled “UNIVERSE” to be released Fall 2019. She also writes and produces music for a diversity of artists which include poets, vocalists, and Hip Hop lyricists in the United States and globally.
Because of her diversity of talents, Jaci Caprice 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 style has been compared to such musical pioneers as 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 lyric 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 a site manager for Next Level Croatia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Australia.
Mahogany Jones is a lyrical force, hailed internationally for her work, the Recording/Performance serves as an Arts Educator, a US Musical Ambassador, and was in 2018 was deemed a United Way Brand Ambassador.
As a HipHop Soul artist, Jones has shared stages with acts such as The Roots, India Arie, KEM, Moonchild, Royce da’5’9”, Lecrae, Rapsody, Kareem Riggins, and the like.
Recently a TEDx Speaker, she was awarded as a 2018 Detroit Music Award’s Outstanding Rap MC, is a 2016 Kresge Arts Fellow, and most noted as 4x undefeated BET’s 106&Park Freestyle Friday Battle Champion.
Her latest release is “SugarWater”.
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.
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.