Next Level is an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in association with the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Through hip hop music and dance, Next Level fosters cross-cultural creative expression and exchange in diverse and underserved communities. We work to promote understanding and conflict resolution 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.

Next Level 1.0 (2014 – 2015) coordinated a series of three-week-long exchange programs in Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina/ Montenegro, India, Senegal, Serbia and Zimbabwe, and concluded with the Global Next Level residency, which brought artists from each of those countries to the U.S.

Next Level 2.0 (2015 – 2016) will run similar exchange programs in El Salvador, Honduras, Tanzania, Thailand and Uganda.

During the exchanges, teams of MCs, DJs, beat makers, and hip-hop dancers conduct public concerts, interactive performances with local musicians, lecture demonstrations, workshops, and jam sessions with diverse audiences.

Next Level activities focus on promoting conflict resolution and interacting with younger and underserved audiences in areas with little or no access to American hip-hop musicians. 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.