It’s a heartwarming and inspiring story of a young man overcoming adversity and hardship.
Rio Wyles is fast becoming the next big thing in rap, and like many he’s had to put in hard work and plenty of sweat to break through in the highly competitive music world — but what makes Rio’s story so inspiring is that he was diagnosed with autism as a young child and suffered a profound loss of language at age three-and-a-half.
The language slowly came back, but in an odd ritualistic, nonsensical way, causing children to shun him throughout his childhood and those close to him to worry that he would never be able to fully live an independent life.
However, some saw the greatness in Rio, with late R&B legend, Carl Anderson commenting, “You know, Rio has music in his head all the time.”
And indeed he did. The music was always there, never lost and proved to be his way into reading — teaching himself at age nine, through the lyrics of the songs he loved. And equally important, a way back into relating to peers, breaking through with the love of music they all shared.
Then, the beginning of a career as a performer and by eleven as a composer, with lyrics that quickly went beyond the personal to something greater: “You know in life things happen doesn’t seem what it seems. Even in dreams obstacles may appear… One day you figure it out what your life was all about.”
Early on Rio announced his intention to work in the music business, while browsing through the bins at Tower Records.
Admonished by all the doctors to adjust her expectations for him, his mom reluctantly asked, “Do you want to work here?” knowing even that would be an impossibility. However, Rio shot his mom a look and quickly set her straight with a clarity she’d never seen before. “I want to be a rapper and own my own label. You gotta’ dream bigger than that, Mom.”
And now, this M.C. known as SoulShocka is receiving standing ovations wherever he performs and in January of 2011 he received The Genius of Autism Award at Carnegie Hall. His recording career has gotten off to a great start as well with a collaboration with Rev Run, and work with Dave Stewart, having won the Stand up to Cancer challenge.
As Rio would say, “Check it.”
You can also download SoulShocka from itunes, 50 percent of net profits for November will go to Autism Speaks.