4 Wheel City is comprised of two artists from Bronx, New York who discovered their mutual passions after unexpected events. Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris began pursuing his musical dreams with a group of friends trying to make it in the rap industry. Living just one building away, was Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez, an aspiring musical producer who had a passion for hip-hop. While they had never met, both shared many similarities, including having sustained spinal cord injuries and using wheelchairs.
Years earlier while walking home from a party as a senior in high school, Velasquez noticed something was happening ahead of him. Thinking nothing of it, he kept walking but suddenly heard, “He’s got a gun!”
“The next thing I know, I’m on the ground bleeding. I was screaming, and it was crazy. It happened just that quickly,” said Velasquez.
Only three years after Velasquez’s incident, Norris was at his sister’s birthday party in the same neighborhood. His cousin started playing with a gun, and the weapon accidently fired. At 17 years old, Norris was shot in the neck, and now paralyzed from the chest down.
A few months later, Norris’ mom saw Velasquez in their neighborhood and asked if he would be her son’s friend. He didn’t know anyone else who used a wheelchair. Just like that, a simple request transformed their lives and gave them a new purpose. They soon realized their similar passions, and a few months later they launched 4 Wheel Records with Norris as a solo artist and Velasquez producing.
In 2006, they officially launched 4 Wheel City, a broader, non-profit movement to “inspire, educate, advocate and entertain.” Their lyrics reflect the obstacles they had to overcome. For example, in one of the group’s first songs, “The Movement,” Norris and Velasquez rap about the challenges people with disabilities often have with public access. Another hit, “Welcome to Reality,” focuses on the importance of finishing school and making the right choices.
This movement, as they call it, is more than just music. The two first started performing their “rap therapy” at nursing homes and rehab centers. They also grew their impact by mentoring young people who are transitioning to life with disabilities.
“We have overcome many obstacles despite our injuries and the main reason has been our enthusiasm for our music. If we can help someone else going through a hard time by sharing our music and experience, we are more than happy to do so,” they said.
Conference guests are invited to join the movement and feel their passion at the conference’s opening reception on Friday, August 23, 2013, starting at 7 p.m. 4 Wheel City will also be at the FREE expo to meet attendees and offer advice for aspiring artists.
Learn more about this dynamic duo at http://4wheelcity.com.
Stay updated on more conference details by signing up for e-mail blasts. Costs for the conference will be announced very soon. Learn more about the Living Well With A Disability Conference & Expo at www.livingwellwithadisabilityexpo.org.