Our mission is one of cultural exchange. We collaborate with cultural centers, connect youth to a global audience, and contribute equipment and training.  EMMY AWARD WINNING PBS WEB SERIES →


Episode 1, 3/13/13: Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, An Introduction

In this first episode of the season, Apple Juice Kid and Pierce Freelon introduce Beat Making Lab and showcase its journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The show features youth musicians in the lab along with performers from the Goma-based non-profit, Yole!Africa. Subscribe now.


Episode 2, 3/20/13: Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, ChoChoCho Video

Cho Cho Cho is the first song produced and written by the youth of the Congo Beat Making Lab. A hard-hitting posse cut, Cho Cho Cho was inspired by a popular Congolese call-and-response chant, and the video was filmed during Yole!Africa’s SKIFF Festival dance competition. The song features six amazing young MCs and vocalists from Goma, as well as emcee and professor Pierce Freelon of hip hop/jazz band The Beast (in order of appearance: Queen Minaj, Pierce Freelon, Fal J, Melissa, Laureat, DJ Couleur, MC Mussa). With verses in Swahili, French and English the reoccurring lyrical theme “niwakati” means “the time is now” in Swahili. A translation of verses reveal a call for peace, “this is time for building love… it’s time to say no to rape” (DJ Couler) – “the time is now for development, courage and devotion / go ahead, Congolese without anger or hatred” (Fal J).


Episode 3, 3/24/13: Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, What’s In the Backpack?

A lot of people ask us how we set up these labs and what kind of equipment we like to use. This video gives some insight into our process. Check out how we put a Samson Meteor Mic, Reason Software, a Macbook Pro, an Akai MPK mini, a set of Klipsch speakers/subwoofer and Editors Keys Studio Headphones into action.


Episode 4, 4/3/13: Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zenga Music Video by Flamme Kapaya

Zenga, is a global dance anthem performed by maverick guitarist and Congolese superstar Flamme Kapaya, and produced by Apple Juice Kid. The song is featured on “Amani Goma,” a free EP released by Latino Resiste/Mal Dicen/ARTVSM exclusively on Mad Decent on Friday March 29th.


Episode 5, 4/10/13: Portobello, Panama, Meet the Students

We move to Panama in this episode, establishing a Beat Making Lab at La Escuelita Del Ritmo in Portobelo, where over a dozen youth collaborated with local and international artists on original electronic beats and songs. La Esqualita del Ritmo, is an innovative program that provides free music and arts classes to local youth. You’ll meet Yaci, Osvaldo and Darin and get a glimpse into how the comparsa rhythm of their home country gets incorporated into the powerful new beats they create.


Episode 6, 4/17/13: Portobello, Panama, Accordian Trap Challenge

The mix of instruments in our Panama lab keeps us inspired. In this episode we explore a whole new sound with Martin, a young accordian player. Watch as we remix his sample into a hot trap beat, then join us by creating your own interpretation. Download all you need from our Challenge Page.


Episode 7, 4/24/13: Portobello, Panama, Diablos music video

In this video, our students from Portobelo do it all: produce the beat, write the lyrics and help develop the concept for the music video. The song was created at La Escuelita del Ritmo, and inspired by a fascinating local celebration – festival de los Diablos y Congos.


Episode 8, 5/1/13: Gamboa, Panama, Prison Beats

While in Panama, we take a little field trip to a prison in the rain forests of Gamboa, Panama. Professor Angel Sound (an incarcerated DJ who was blackmailed into muling cocaine for the Nigerian mafia) and his fellow inmate, who loves macaroni and cheese help us make a beat.


Episode 8 Bonus, 5/1/13: Gamboa, Panama, Professor Angel Sound Explains

How does a DJ end up teaching prisoners music in prison? Watch this bonus footage to get the backstory on Professor Angel Sound of Centro de Rehabilitacion El Renacer.


Episode 9, 5/8/13: Portobello, Panama, Yomira In The Dark, Portobello Music Video

During the festival del los Diablos y Congos we met an amazing vocalist on the street named Yomira John. In the middle of recording with her, a massive blackout struct over half of Portobelo – presumably the result of a power-drain from the day’s festivities. Luckily we were in familiar territory. We dealt with power-grid fluctuations when we built a Beat Making Lab in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and were equipped with tools to handle the situation. With a fully charged laptop and an iPhone APP to light the room, we recorded Yomira on a usb-powered microphone in near-complete darkness.


Episode 10, 5/15/13: Portobello, Panama, Behind the Beat

This, the final video of the Panama series, showcases all the characters, influences, crazy-talented musicians, passionate students and unique circumstances of the Panama Lab. The connection to our home in North Carolina gets unusually deep in this piece, as we bring the much-beloved Yomira John back to our home state to showcase the song she wrote in our Lab.


Episode 11, 5/22/13: Dakar, Senegal, Meet the Beatmakers

We take you now to Senegal, where in Dakar a group of young women have formed a collective called Gotal, to empower female hip hop musicians. They’ve partnered with an NGO called Speak Up Africa to spread their message and expand their reach. In this episode you’ll meet the women of Gotal and get a quick look at one of the first beats they made in the lab. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see their finished work and get to join in another Beat Making Challenge with their raw sounds. So, without further ado, welcome to Senegal…


Episode 12, 5/29/13: Dakar, Senegal, Riddim Challenge

The Gotal group recorded a kora player and created a dancehall-inspired riddim out of the sample. Now its your turn. These challenges are part of an ongoing Beat Making Lab initiative, which encourages beat makers to look to their own communities to find interesting samples, sounds, rhythms and ideas to inspire beats. To learn more about submitting your entry, click here. Meanwhile, enjoy the show:


Episode 13, 6/5/13: Dakar, Senegal, Health Worker Beat

One of our Senegalese beat making students, Ina, takes a field trip to an Intrahealth International hospital to make a beat. She records baby squeals and blood pressure gauges; and interviews health workers and community leaders about family planning. These recordings were then delivered to a group of Fijian beat making students, who composed an instrumental entirely comprised of the found sounds. This is the first Beat Making Lab episode where we shared the work of two labs to complete the story. Two continents, many musicians, one beat.


Episode 14, 6/12/13: Dakar, Senegal, Get Your Drums Right

Beat Making Lab is fundamentally a class, so we have to start with a set of core principles to get our students on the right track. The first one is, don’t use the packaged, factory drum sounds that come included in the beatmaking software you are using. Pierce and Apple Juice give a little demonstration to show you the difference.


Episode 15, 6/26/13: Walshy Fire (of Major Lazer) Wants Your Riddims

A few episodes ago, we introduced the Kora Riddim Challenge. This week, we are excited to announce that the challenge is being judged by Walshy Fire of Major Lazer. He’s looking for the best Jamaican dancehall riddim that uses a West African kora sample which we captured on the streets of Dakar, Senegal. Check out Walshy’s call to beatmakers everywhere:


Episode 16, 7/2/13: Mashup: National Anthems

Celebrate independence with an epic mashup: US National Anthem [Star Spangled Banner] + Black National Anthem [Lift Every Voice and Sing]. Download the mashup at: www.beatmakinglab.com/mashup

Episode 17, 7/17/13: Behind The Beat: First Beat Making Lab

The first Beat Making Lab was launched at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Fall semester of 2011, as a 3 credit hour course in the music department founded by Dr. Mark Katz (now the chair of the music department) and Stephen Levitin (aka Apple Juice Kid). This episode, shot and edited by UNC student Jon Kasbe for Reese News, shows the on-campus origins of the now international program.

Episode 18, 7/24/13: Heartbeats of Fiji

Ben is searching for purpose. Masi is following a dream. From separate islands, yet connected through music, their paths crossed at the Fiji Beat Making Lab.

Episode 19, 7/31/13: Trapped in Paradise?

So you think you’re a struggling artist? What if you were from Fiji – 8000 miles away from the music industry? Fijian rapper/producer Dave Lavaki (aka Mr. Grin) explains how he and the Fiji Beat Making Lab are building a scene by tapping into their local culture.

Episode 20, 8/15/13: Sampling w/ Flip Flops and Ski Beatz

A man in Fiji hits a PVC pipe with a flip flop – that sound meets a 17-year-old drummer in North Carolina. A beat is created. And around it all, Platinum selling producer Ski Beatz (producer for Jay Z, Camp Lo and Jay Electronica) lets us know why he even samples in the first place.

Episode 21, 8/21/13: #FijiChallenge w/ Walshy Fire of Major Lazer

Walshy Fire plays you a Fijian Chant, Apple Juice Kid tells you the basics of Moombahton, we play the winning beat from the Senegal Challenge, and you get a chance to be featured on Mad Decent and Beat Making Lab via ETC!ETC!.

Episode 22, 8/28/13: Bure Beat (Music Video)

What is a Bure? (choose one answer) 1. A traditional Fijian house built on human corpses 2. The location of beat making studio in Suva, Fiji 3. All of the above.

Episode 23, 9/4/13: 4 ways to take your art international [Beat Making Lab interlude]

From the campus of Yole!Africa in Goma, DR-Congo, co-hosts Apple Juice Kid and Pierce Freelon offer four suggestions for artists trying to take their work international.

Episode 24, 9/11/13: Why Open Source? [Beat Making Lab interlude]

From the campus of Yole!Africa in Goma, DR-Congo, co-hosts Apple Juice Kid and Pierce Freelon offer four reasons why they need an open source beat making software.

Episode 25, 9/18/13: Behind the Beat: Good For The World

UNC student samples a local non-profit to make a beat that merges the worlds of Art and Activism. Join Beat Making Lab and 1Beat at Art + Activism Festival Sept. 26-28 in North Carolina.

Episode 26, 10/2/13: Gelila: Ambitious Ethiopian Beat Maker (Part 1/2)

Gelila’s dream is to became a beat maker. For two weeks, she trained in a Beat Making Lab after school to learn the techniques of hip hop and electronic music production with Professor Pierce Freelon and producer Apple Juice Kid – working on beats to bring awareness to health issues in Addis Ababa.

Episode 27, 10/9/13: Gelila: Ethiopian Beatmaker (Part 2/2)

Part 2: Gelila’s dream is to became a beat maker. For two weeks, she trained in a Beat Making Lab after school to learn the techniques of hip hop and electronic music production with Professor Pierce Freelon and producer Apple Juice Kid – working on beats to bring awareness to health issues in Addis Ababa.

Episode 28, 10/16/13: #EthiopiaChallenge w/ Walshy Fire of Major Lazer

Can you turn a traditional Ethiopian masinko AND an Ethiopian soccer game chant into an Afrobeat dance track? The winner of this challenge will be featured on Mad Decent, Soundcloud and Public Radio International’s hit show The World. We also have tons of prizes including t-shirts, flash drives and free Soundcloud Pro accounts. Walshy Fire of Major Lazer hosts and Azonto/Afrobeat Dance king: Fuse ODG judges.

Episode 29, 10/23/13: Poems & Beats in Ethiopia

Our student Marta recites her heart-wrenching poem about losing a child – featuring singing by Munit Mesfin, over a beat produced by Apple Juice Kid and the Ethiopia Beat Making Lab.

Episode 30, 10/30/13: UNIFY: Beatboxing + Building Community

When you collaborate with musicians abroad, sometimes language can stall the creative process. “Unify” helps us break the ice through improvisation and beat boxing.

Episode 31, 11/6/13: Des Yelal – Ethiopia Music Video

Des Yelal (it feels good) is the final song and music video from the Ethiopia Beat Making Lab. Filmed in collaboration with a Ethiopian filmmaker Tsgaye Ermias, the song was written and produced by student-musicians who participated in Intrahealth x Beat Making Lab health and beats program in Addis Ababa.

Episode 32: IntraHealth + Ethiopia Music Video

Episode 33: North Carolina, USA Part 1

Episode 34: North Carolina, USA Part 2

Episode 35: North Carolina, USA Music Video

Episode 36: Kenya Part 1

Episode 37: Kenya Part 2

Episode 38: Haiti (made possible by Apple)

Episode 39: Haiti Music Video: Danse Konsa

Episode 40: 2/17/2018 Haiti Music Video: Bayo