El Salvador: From November 29th to December 14th, 2015, four hip hop artists traveled to San Salvador and Soyapongo, El Salvador as part of the Next Level program. Beat Maker Charles Burchell, DJ Daniel Zarazua, MC Moné “Medusa” Smith, and Dancer Danny J. “Dan Tres Omi” Rodriguez joined together 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.
Charles Burchell is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer from New Orleans, Louisiana. He has studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the New England Conservatory (B.M. ’12) and most recently completed the Masters of Arts in Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ed. M ’13).
Burchell has recorded and produced albums with Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Delfayo Marsalis, Ran Blake, Ciel Rouge, and his own band, The Love Experiment, and has performed and given master classes at a variety of music festivals around the world.
He is currently a teaching artist for Carnegie Hall’s Digital Music Production Workshop and Musical Connections Program, in which he works with court involved youth and students from various boroughs throughout New York City. Burchell continues to perform regularly around the U.S. and internationally as a DJ, drummer, and bandleader.
Danny J. “Dan Tres Omi” Rodriguez is the author of “Is that Breakdance Fighting?” and founder of Capoeira Dayton. Danny Rodriguez is an advisor at the Dayton Job Corps Center and a b-boy instructor at local schools throughout Dayton, Ohio. He is also a trainer with The Unit, a grassroots organization that provides free boot camp classes in the city of Dayton.
He was the president of the Solar Flare chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation (UZN) in Hampton Roads Virginia and is the current vice president of the Gem City Zulus chapter of Dayton, Ohio.
Daniel Zarazua has had a DJ career that has spanned over two decades and four continents, during which time he has shared billing with the likes of hiphop star Eminem and performed at corporate events for ESPN and Cadillac. In 1999, he was a finalist for the Detroit Music Awards in the category of “Best Hip Hop DJ.”
In the past few years, he has shifted his focus to education, journalism, and photography, while still using music as a base. His work as a high school classroom teacher and vice principal has lead to speaking engagements at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and universities such as the University of Michigan.
He is currently working on a book about Black and Latino communities in Taiwan, including how hip hop culture has contributed to Taiwanese identity.
Moné “Medusa” Smith is the undisputed Queen of West Coast underground hip hop. She has shared the stage with artists including Stevie Wonder, KRS-ONE, George Clinton, Public Enemy, Erykah Badu, Roy Ayers, Common, Meshell Ndegeocello, and MC Lyte.
She was the winner of a 2014 Female Hip Hop Honor Award and a 2014 West Coast Hip Hop Award, as well as honoree of Honolulu’s “Girl Fest,” which dedicated an entire day to Medusa and her accomplishments in music. Usually taking place every November, this all-volunteer non-profit 501(c)3 festival incorporates film, music, art, spoken word, and dance, complemented by a mini-conference involving panels, lectures, outreach workshops for children and adults that address themes such as body image, identity, empowerment, social change and methods on how to prevent violence in relationships, all of which are important themes of Medusa’s work.