From March 12th to March 26th, 2017 five hip hop artists traveled to Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of the Next Level program. MC Trinise “AtLas’” Crowder, DJ Bryan “Raydar” Ellis, Beat Maker Daniel “King Khazm” Kogita, and Dancer Jacob “Kujo” Lyons joined team manager Kane Smego to perform for audiences and collaborate with local artists to promote cross-culture exchange and conflict resolution. The team is part of a larger Next Level cohort of twenty American MC’s, DJ’s, beat makers, and hip hop dancers leading exchange programs across the globe. You can read more about the artists below. See more videos of the team performing here.

Daniel “King Khazm” Kogita is an award-winning producer, artist, MC, educator and community leader, who for more than a decade has been executive director of 206 Zulu, one of the most significant community organizations for hip hop culture in the Pacific Northwest.

He has lectured at universities across Washington state and has mentored young people facing addiction and mental health challenges. Wheelchair-bound, he also works as an advocate for those with disabilities. As a bi-racial, disabled person from Seattle’s Southend, Khazm’s story of perseverance is a testament to hip hop’s founding principles.

Jacob “Kujo” Lyons is an internationally recognized and multiple-award-winning b-boy who has worked extensively with the U.S. Department of State on numerous international programs, including in England, Scotland, the Bahamas, Senegal, Morocco, Panama, and Costa Rica. He is the founder, artistic director and choreographer of the Lux Aeterna Dance Company and choreographer and principal dancer of the ILL-Abilities Crew.

In addition to sustaining a 21-year career as a professional b-boy, Kujo is now an award-winning choreographer, the founder and artistic director of Lux Aeterna Dance Company, and a freelance circus acrobat/aerialist.

Kujo was born with 100% sensorineural deafness in his right ear, and suffered several instances of conductive hearing loss in his left ear, which forced him to compensate by focusing more on strength and power moves, as opposed to the musicality of toprock and footwork. He and his crew, Soul Control, quickly became famous as power move innovators, primarily known for introducing an obscure move called the air flare to the entire world. Air flares are now an integral part of almost every b-boy’s vocabulary.

Brian “Raydar” Ellis is an accomplished educator, DJ, producer, and MC. Since 2008, he has been an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music and also a DJ and producer for Revive Music Group, an innovative repertory group that combines jazz and hip hop influences. Equal parts hip hop connoisseur and jazz aficionado, DJ Raydar Ellis masterfully combines the two genres and creates music that people can add to the soundtrack of their lives.

Raydar has worked extensively with non-profit groups like the Boys & Girls Club and legendary music organizations like the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

Most recently, Raydar was the official remixer and a credited producer on Revive Music Group/Blue Note Records Supreme Sonacy LP, and is currently working on a textbook for Berklee College that expands on these production and remix practices for their songwriting department.

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.”

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.

Next Level