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4 Wheel City
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4 Wheel City is an entertainment organization started by our guests Namel 'Tapwater' Norris and Ricardo 'Rickfire' Velasquez two talented hip-hop artists and motivational speakers in wheelchairs due to gun violence. Our mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for the disabled and inspire people not to give up in life. In addition, show the world that people with disabilities can still have talents, dreams, and deserve to be treated equal. 4 Wheel City performs original music as well as motivational speak at hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, fundraisers, and events, all over the world, including a recent trip to the White House.

Episode Segments:
BHF: Namel Norris and Ricardo Velasquez
4 Wheel City is a motivational hip-hop group started by two talented artists who acquired spinal cord injuries due to gun violence. Namel and Ricardo share their individual stories and how they came together to spread the message of non-violence.
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Links to Related Websites:
4 Wheel City Official Website

Guest(s) Appearing on this Episode
Namel Norris And Ricardo Velasquez
Talented hip-hop artists Namel "Tapwaterz" Norris and Ricardo "Rickfire" Velasquez of 4 Wheel City are on a mission. Wheelchair users as a result of senseless gun violence, these rap visionaries have leveraged their musical gifts and life experience to inspire others with disabilities not to abandon their dreams.

Both injured as teenagers in the Bronx—Velasquez in the crossfire of a neighborhood shootout and Norris accidentally by his cousin who was playing with a gun—the duo met through the efforts of Norris’ mother, concerned over her son’s despondency following his accident. When they found they had more in common than just their chairs, they launched 4 Wheel Records and completed two albums with Norris as solo artist and Velasquez as producer.

Then, in 2006—the same year Norris graduated from Lehman College with a Bachelor’s in business management—they realized that they were uniquely poised to make an even greater impact on their own communities and the wider community of people with disabilities. The pair kicked off 4 Wheel City, a broader, non-profit movement created to "inspire, educate, advocate and entertain." Now, in addition to performing their original music, they also offer motivational speaking for hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, fundraisers and events worldwide.

Their efforts caught the attention of rap superstar Snoop Dog, who collaborated with 4 Wheel City on the Welcome 2 Reality G-mix. “This is not just a record it's a movement,” Snoop said in a statement. “It's a feeling! I'm down with the movement, we are about doing something righteous.”

4 Wheel City’s use of music and hip hop culture to encourage inner city youth to resist the allure of street life and stay in school has also made national news. Click here for coverage of their Welcome 2 Reality program, where Norris and Velasquez combine a motivational lecture with an inspiring hip hop performance to convey the value of education, responsible decisions and ending teen violence to their student audiences.

4 Wheel City has also pioneered a revolutionary new brand of rehabilitation which they call “rap therapy.” They visit hospitals and rehab facilities where they speak and rap from the heart for people who are struggling with their own disabilities. "We have overcome many obstacles despite our injuries and the main reason has been our enthusiasm for our music, so 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," commented the band.

“Just because you have a disability, that doesn't mean that your life is over,” says Velasquez. “We want to inspire other people to go ahead and do things…It can be anything that you have a passion for, or maybe you had it before and you thought you lost it due to your disability. Our main goal is just to try and inspire people to live life to the fullest.”

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Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez, the hip-hop artists behind 4 Wheel City, debuted their new single “Mainstream” at a special event at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C. on December 10. The event, “Financial Inclusion and Shared Prosperity: the Next Frontier for People with Disabilities,” was organized by the National Disability Institute (NDI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better economic future for people with disabilities and their families, to provide recommendations to cut the disability poverty rate in half by 2025 and advance economic self-sufficiency.

4 Wheel City’s new song “Mainstream” highlights the challenges of poverty and disability and promotes the message “I can work, I can dream, I can be so mainstream.” The song will be used by NDI to begin a conversation in 2016 between the public and private sectors to examine the challenges of disability and economic inclusion for the 22 million working-age adults with disabilities.

Mainstream is now available for download on iTunes. Proceeds from sales will go toward implementing strategies to help individuals with disabilities living in poverty achieve their dreams.

Norris and Velasquez are in wheelchairs due to gun violence and use their music to advocate for people with disabilities. They have previously worked with Snoop Dogg on the song “Welcome to Reality G-Mix” and performed at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. REVOLT premiered their music video “The Movement” on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 2015.