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 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. He is an alumnus of Next Level Zimbabwe, and he has served as the site manager for NL programs in Thailand, Brazil, Morocco, and Cambodia.
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 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, premiered at Playmakers Repertory Company in 2018 and fuses rap, poetry, beatboxing, and storytelling in a work of hip hop theater. A native of Durham, North Carolina, Kane currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Jaci Caprice Clark
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.
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.
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.