State Department, UNC Turn to Hip-Hop to Bring World Closer

With battles, braggadocio and bravado being the norm within hip–hop—the world–famous American art form and subculture that includes rapping, deejaying, breakdancing and graffiti—diplomacy has to be one of the last things that comes to mind.

Beef—a common rap term for conflict and that can often be deadly—has to be one of the first.

Which is what makes Next Level — a small but far-flung hip-hop initiative supported by the U.S. State Department and run in conjunction with the music department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—all the more noteworthy.

The program—launched in 2015—not only sends emerging American rap artists and hip-hop educators abroad to places as far away and diverse as Serbia and Senegal, Tanzania and Thailand, but it also brings some of the most promising young hip-hop artists from those countries to the U.S. to engage in a cross-cultural exchange.

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