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Global diplomacy and hip hop
Carlos Godínez, aka DJ Cue Bass, DJ from San Salvador, El Salvador


During the week of April 4–9, 2016, international hip-hop artists from Africa, Asia, and Central America will be in residence at the UNC at Chapel Hill to participate in workshops, panel discussions, jam sessions, and pop-up public performances. The residency is part of the Next Level program, a musical exchange and global diplomacy initiative funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by UNC-Chapel Hill.

“We expect this to be the experience of a lifetime, not only for the visiting artists, but for everyone they meet,” said Mark Katz, a music professor at UNC who serves as director of Next Level, as well as director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. “This will be an incredible opportunity for musical and cultural exchange.”

As part of the week’s events, the IAH will host a symposium called “Global Diplomacy and Hip Hop” on Thursday, April 7, 3:30 p.m. -5 p.m. at Hyde Hall. The moderated discussion and jam session with five hip-hop artists will focus on the role of hip-hop in their lives and communities and the power of the global art form as an agent of change.

Next Level is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in association with the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its mission is to use hip-hop music and dance to foster cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse and underserved communities. In doing so, Next Level works to promote understanding and conflict prevention, and to support the professional development of artists in those communities.

Over the past year, the Next Level program has organized a series of multi-week exchange programs that have sent American hip-hop artists to El Salvador, Honduras, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda. The Chapel Hill Residency concludes the year by providing an opportunity for artists from those countries to visit the U.S.

“Following our practice in the international residencies, the artists will both teach and learn, but—most of all—share,” Katz explained. “After a week in Washington, DC, the artists will come to Chapel Hill, where they will learn about the culture, music, and history of the American South, perform around town, and attend workshops on entrepreneurship and conflict resolution.”

Participating artists:

Carlos Godínez, aka DJ Cue Bass, DJ from San Salvador, El Salvador

Drichiru Kifuko, aka Key, dancer from Kampala, Uganda

Boonyachana Tissakul, aka B-boy Sept, dancer from Chiang Rai, Thailand

Ainara Calix Montesinos, aka AinaJuana, a rapper from Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Amani Msangi, aka Kiche Legend, a rapper from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


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