Rio “Soulshocka” Wyles is a 21-year-old rapper from California who happens to have autism, but if you think he’s letting that get in the way of creating some sick beats, think again.
Rio is adding his own touch, a “Rio-mix” if you will, to what will be one of the hottest songs this summer: “Swoon” by Timeflies. And that’s not all, Adrienne Bailon even got in on the action by adding some stellar vocals of her own.
So how does a young man who suffered a sudden and profound loss of language at a young age end up in the studio with talents like Timeflies and Bailon? Autism Speaks partnered with Converse so the lyrical genius could lay down the track at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn. The two organizations wanted to prove that having autism doesn’t prevent an artist from being capable of producing amazing work.
We caught up with Timeflies and Adrienne Bailon to find out what it was like working with Rio, what they learned about autism, and how their fans can get involved in the raising awareness for the cause. Their answers are gonna make you love these artists even more!
ACT: How did you get involved with Autism Speaks?
TIMEFLIES: We've always really respected and admired the work Autism Speaks has done. So when they reached out to us to get involved, we jumped at the opportunity and could not be happier with how well everything turned out. We look forward to more collaborations with Autism Speaks going forward.
ADRIENNE: A friend of mine works for Autism Speaks. It’s an amazing cause that is making a real difference in the lives of so many people. When my friend asked me to participate in the recording session it was a no-brainer. It was a truly special experience to help raise autism awareness and work with such a talented artist like Rio.
ACT: What was it like working with Rio on this project?
TIMEFLIES: Not gonna lie, we were definitely down with 3LW, so when we heard Adrienne Bailon was going to be there we were real hyped. And she kills it. She's awesome to work with, not to mention she's got pipes for days! And what can we say about Rio? Kid is absolutely unbelievable. Right when we got there he was ready to drop his verse on “Swoon,” and everyone was blown away. He just stepped to the mic and did his thing like he'd been doing it for years. From flow to lyrics he's got it covered. It was really just a fun session.
ADRIENNE: I was blown away by Rio. He rhymes so effortlessly and is a natural in the recording studio. He simply killed it in only a few takes at the mic. I’m huge fan of Timeflies. It was so much fun getting the chance to collaborate with Cal and Rob, and it’s exciting to watch them take it to the next level.
Photo: What's not to love about this photo? Timeflies' Cal Shapiro, rapper Rio and Adrienne Bailon. (Autism Speaks)
ACT: What should people know about artists who have autism?
TIMEFLIES: At the end of the day, music is music. We all do it for those moments where your eyes close and you get that feeling ... an indescribable rush of emotion. It's a hard question to answer because, as is true with so much music, it seems obvious to never judge a book by its cover. We never thought once to treat the situation differently. We heard Rio wanted to spit a verse and he absolutely killed it, end of story. So what should people know about artists with autism? Let the music speak for itself.
ADRIENNE: Autism doesn’t have to define a person. Artists with autism are like anyone else: They define themselves through hard work and individuality.
ACT: What’s one thing you learned about autism that you didn’t know before?
TIMEFLIES: That each case of autism is different. Many times when people think of a disorder like autism, they only have one idea or vision of what it is. But, honestly, each person with autism is unique, and many of them are talented and above average in visual, music and academic skills.
ADRIENNE: Autism currently affects one in 88 children in the U.S., and its prevalence continues to rise. That’s why it’s important to help organizations like Autism Speaks raise awareness and funds to support families and individuals impacted by it.
Photo: Rio spitting his sick rhymes!! (Autism Speaks)
ACT: How can your fans get involved with Autism Speaks?
TIMEFLIES: To get involved with Autism Speaks, you should definitely visit their website as there are multiple ways to support.
ADRIENNE: I’m calling on all of my fans to go to www.autismspeaks.org and get involved in your local Walk Now For Autism Speaks. You can also learn about autism and find great resources to help raise awareness. Also, like Autism Speaks on Facebook and spread the word!
ACT: Timeflies was just named as an MTV “Artist to Watch.” What was it like to get that news?
TIMEFLIES: Being two kids who grew up with MTV, it was so awesome. Being put into a category with so many other artists we love, it was great to feel the support. We actually just met Carson Daily the other day, and it really felt full circle from growing up watching “TRL” to being a part of such awesome opportunities now.
ACT: What are you most excited about working on this year?
ADRIENNE: I am most excited about working with Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Tamera Mowry-Housley and Jeannie Mai on our daytime talk show, "The Real," that is scheduled to premiere on July 15 on Fox affiliate stations. It will feature the five busy career ladies dishing on everything from the latest celeb gossip to their views on love, sex and relationships.
Photo: Adrienne in the studio, singing the infectious summer jam "Swoon." (Autism Speaks)
ACT: Besides "Swoon," are there any other songs we should check out in our search for the perfect summer jam?
TIMEFLIES: Definitely check out our new single "I Choose U" and the Fedde Le Grand Remix! That said, songs we're bumping this summer? Gotta start it off with the Feed Me Remix of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" — too fresh. Another great one we can't stop playing is "Dreaming," by Smallpools. If you're living under a rock and haven't heard "Royals," by Lorde, get on that. "Daddy's Dime," by The Well-Informed. "San Francisco" by The Mowgli's is awesome. "UOENO" Remix is the jam, can't even mow it. And perhaps the sound of summer itself, "This Is What It Feels Like," by Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie. Then put "I Choose U" on again!
ADRIENNE: There are so many songs that I like coming out this summer that it is hard to call out just one. But “Swoon” will be big this summer!
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Timeflies + Adrienne Bailon and raise awareness about autism, you can find more information through Autism Speaks. For more ways to get involved, check out the action widgets below.