4 Wheel City is an inspirational rap group started by Namel “Tapwaterz” 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,” says the duo. “In addition, show the world that people with disabilities can still have talents, dreams, and deserve to be treated equal.” The group’s brand new mixtape, “Spiritual” gives me chills. I grew up listening to that infamous Golden Era of hip-hop during the 90s and this album delivers that feeling. I’m almost disappointed that we ‘only’ get 16 tracks, because I’m dying to hear more. Which is why we need to support groups like 4 Wheel City. This is the type of mixtape that will send all of the little boys in the industry running for cover.
Norris continues to prove himself amongst the elite of hip hop spitters, while Velasquez consistently delivers striking production work. Together they have grown on me, since the release of their “God Bless America” project last year. I give this new mixtape 5 stars, because of what it attempted to do, and another 5 for what it has ultimately achieved.
The feel of the album right the way through is gritty and full of inspiration like the very best rap albums have always been. Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez beats go from sparse and stark head-nodders, to cinematically layered, and beautifully realized bangers – the perfect canvas for Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris pitch perfect posturing and belligerent bravado.
The tracks all have diverse tones, so it never feels like one long song. It stays consistently great without ever being monotonous. The rhyming and melodic choruses are viciously on point too, just in case you were in any doubt as to where 4 Wheel City ranks as a collective in Hip Hop right now.
This mixtape ends any debate. Sure, worship and gospel themes run deep through these songs, but then the mixtape’s title already warned you of that. Quite frankly “Spiritual” can be enjoyed over and above one’s religious beliefs. You can disregard the messages and just tag alone to the brilliant rhyming and beats.
However it’s pretty obvious that if your connection to this music includes its spiritual quotient, you’re in for a full immersion experience alongside 4 Wheel City. The minute the introductory track, “Angel” (Intro) [feat. Takiyah] sets in, you’ll be caught up in the mixtape’s mystical aura. And when the duo kick in with the intense, “Saved by God”, you will be totally sold on this concept.
From there on out, the standouts roll up in quick succession. From the upbeat “Long Time Coming” (feat. Cuzo) to the trap-styled anthems “Leaders of the New World” and “God Gives Blessings”, onto the mesmerizing “Music” (feat. Tabitha Haly) and the gritty “Disabled Lives Matter”, this mixtape never lets up, maintaining a fierce forward motion.
And the best is still to me on the last four tracks. “Spiritual” is a great example of what happens when compelling lyricism and high-end production collide flawlessly in collaboration. Nothing more needs to be said. Just grab your copy!