Next Level: Russia

From August 19 to September 2, 2019, beatmaker Lord Finesse, graffiti/aerosol artist 179, dancer Brian Pistols and MC Dinco D were accompanied by beatmaker and site manager Jaci Caprice Clark and filmmaker Nate Peracciny to Moscow, Arkhangelsk and Syktyvkar, Russia as part of the Next Level Program.

Next Level, a cultural diplomacy program that uses hip hop to create connections is an initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Meridian International Center that promotes conflict transformation, entrepreneurship and artistic and professional development among younger and under-served audiences around the world.

On their first night, the Next Level Team collaborated with local artists through Hip Hop Union, a Russian Hip Hop organization in Moscow. After the event, graffiti/aerosol artist 179 wrote:

“Tomorrow we fly to Syktyvkar for our first round of classes. Thank you Punk Fiction for hosting Team Russia; Dinco D, Lord Finesse, Bboy Brian Pistols, Nate Peracciny, Jaci Caprice, & Grand Pap. It was magical. #TeamRussia2019  #onesevennine

Following Moscow, the team stayed in Syktyvkar for a few days to offer workshops to Russian hip hop enthusiasts.

The artists’ next stop was Arkhangelsk, where they spent a week offering workshops with several different topics such as hip hop culture, conflict transformation, and leadership. Lord Finesse summarized the workshops on his Instagram page:

“Arkhangelsk, Russia my time here has been a great experience on so many levels.. The #NextLevelUSA Team has been instructing beat production, emceeing, breaking, & graffiti workshop sessions in Arkhangelsk all week!! Special thanks to @dommol29 for hosting us.”

Dancer, Brian Pistols wrote:

“It was a dream I didn’t even know I had. Led a Hip-Hop hater’s discussion with @onesevennine 😂”

The team also organized a Bboy/Bgirl battle in Syktyvkar and later held their Final Performance in Arkhangelsk.

MC Dinco D described the experience with these words:

“The Hip-Hop community in Russia is beautiful. The hunger and determination to acquire the skills to Emcee, to Break, to do Graffiti is very extraordinary.”

Project summary

Next Level: Russia | September 2019
Number of Visitors: 6
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: Russia
Impact Areas: Cultural Diplomacy
Program Areas: Culture
Partners: Public Sector