Aquil “AQ” Charlton

Artist • Teaching • Literary Arts, Music, Visual Arts

Musician, maker, and educator, Aquil “AQ” Charlton (he/him/his), uses his imagination and musical talents to engage others in envisioning a more just world. AQ’s live electronic improvisations, DJ sets, and rap shows often feature collaborations with visual artists like film projectionist George “@photodeath_” Schaefer, or illustrators Ameedah Mawalin and Esmeralda Baltazar, to create immersive sonic experiences.

A teaching artist for over two decades, he brings his curiosity and joyful energy to classrooms and community spaces. Since founding the Mobile Music Box in 2016, Aquil also leads free arts events for the public, including activities like DIY music instrument-making, jam sessions, and beat-making at parks and other neighborhood gathering spaces. His public practice focuses primarily on south and west side communities in Chicago, and is often amplified and complimented by fellow artists William Estrada, Marya Spont-Lemus and Andres Spont-Lemus in the Mobilize Creative Collaborative; and Lional “Brother El” Freeman and Lawrence “Binkey” Tolefree of The Beat Bank and Sounds Natural. A resident of the Kenwood neighborhood and father to a young son, Aquil volunteers in his community and at his son’s school.

Artist Information

Languages Spoken
  • English
  • Black Vernacular English (BVE)
Years with Urban Gateways
  • 11
Areas of Expertise
  • Songwriting
  • Poetry
  • Rap
  • Spoken Word
  • Digital Music Production
  • Audio Engineering
  • DJ
  • Analog Electronic Music
  • DIY Simple Music Instrument-Making
  • Design Thinking
  • Music Marketing & Publishing
Learning Environments
  • Virtual
  • Hybrid
  • In-Person