Aquil “AQ” Charlton, raps with the chops and finesse of a vet, and rightfully so: He has been recognized as a leader in Chicago hip hop since 2002, when he co-founded The Crib Collective, a youth organization focused on culture and entrepreneurship that engaged other hip hop artists as volunteers. A skilled DJ and electronic musician, AQ leverages his creative agility to reach a wide range of audiences. He performs electronics with live PA quartet, The Present Elders, and mixed media trio, Wheat Paste Viaducts. Formerly a lead vocalist and songwriter with hip hop soul band, Animate Objects, AQ has opened for major acts such as Lauryn Hill, The Wailers, Mint Condition, Dilated Peoples, Chingy, Kardinal Official, and others. Offstage, he gains the respect of his peers for his continued dedication to teaching and community organizing work. Besides teaching DJ, digital music production, and songwriting through the local school district and several organizations, AQ leads “street studios” – public music production sessions – and teaches how to make instruments from recycled materials from his self-designed “Mobile Music Box,” a bicycle-powered music workshop.