Next Level is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Meridian International Center. Its mission is to use hip-hop music, dance, and art to foster cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse communities. They work to promote understanding and conflict transformation in these audiences and support the professional development of artists in those communities.
Next Level brings people together and encourages greater understanding through the universality of music as a form of creative self-expression. It also builds on the historic legacy of the Department of State’s Jazz Ambassadors, who first traveled the world in the 1950s to connect with people through music.
During the exchanges, teams of MCs, DJs, hip hop dancers, beatmakers, beatboxers, and aerosol artists conduct public concerts, interactive performances with local musicians, lecture demonstrations, workshops, and jam sessions with diverse audiences. Next Level activities focus on promoting conflict transformation and interacting with younger and underserved audiences around the world. Next Level programs also focus on musical entrepreneurship, conducting workshops and discussions on global music business best practices today.
Next Level artist-educators are selected on the basis of artistic quality and commitment to education and cultural engagement through an open competition.