Bronx paraplegic hip-hop duo raps, mentors
Two wheelchair-bound Bronx rappers joined forces after being injured to bring a positive spin on urban hip-hop and inspire others.
Namel Norris and Ricardo Velasquez call their hip-hop duet 4-Wheel City. But rapping, mixing beats and playing the piano is not all they are doing. They say their goal is to become mentors and inspire the people in the community.
?People on their feet need a little inspiration too,? Norris says. ?They see people worse off than them doing what they have to do.?
Living in adjacent buildings on Washington Avenue, the rappers say they are both survivors of gun violence. They became friends and started creating music together because they believe they were meant to spread the word about wheelchair-bound Bronx residents.
?People with disabilities need a voice,? Velasquez says. ?We were the chosen ones. We had to go and do this.?
Velasquez says that after getting injured, he knew mentoring was in his future. While in the hospital, a patient in a wheelchair reassured him that everything would be alright. Velasquez says that moment meant so much to him that now he is returning the favor to others. These days, Velasquez goes to Mount Sinai Hospital to talk to young paraplegics.
?Inspire other people with disabilities not to give up on life,? he says. ?Whatever happens, don't give up. Just keep on pushing.?
The rappers say they feel speaking to teens about choices is critical because every choice in life leads to consequences.