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Autism Speaks Teams with Converse to Support Rapper with Autism

On April 22, Converse and Autism Speaks came together to support the growth of a budding musician with autism.  The partnership produced not simply autism speaking, but singing and rapping to celebrate the extraordinary talent of one young man with autism. Today, we’re proud to unveil the end result of that special day.

Rio “Soulshocka" Wyles, a 21-year-old promising rapper who is on the autism spectrum, collaborated with the popular musical duo Timeflies and Adrienne Bailon from 3LW and the Cheetah Girls, for a recording session at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Our friends at Converse graciously donated the studio time.

“We are excited to partner with Autism Speaks to provide a platform for creativity,” said Jim Calhoun, Converse Chief Executive Officer, whose family is affected by autism. “We proudly support an organization that advocates for the needs of individuals with autism and by opening the doors of Converse Rubber Tracks, we extend the creative spirit to budding musicians in that community.”

Timeflies, who were dubbed “musical masterminds” by Vanity Fair magazine, and Adrienne are dedicated supporters of our cause. They were on hand to offer guidance, words of encouragement, and an assortment of killer beats and live vocals to back Rio as he rapped to Timeflies’ hit song “Swoon.” Rio was in total command when he took the mic. He fully immersed himself in rapping, starting with a “Yaaaaaaaaay!” His voice was so passionate that it thrilled everyone in the studio. He caught the beat and rhymed verse after verse with Timeflies' vocalist, Cal, providing encouragment. When his mother asked whether he could do this, Rio answered with a confident smile – “Yes I can.”

“It is the shared goals of Autism Speaks and Converse -- celebrating individuality and freedom of expression -- that makes this such a wonderful project,” said Liz Feld, President of Autism Speaks. “Our missions are so compatible because we both see people for who they are -- we see past the autism.”

With Timeflies and Adrienne’s mentoring and Converse’s generosity, Rio put his individuality and talent on full display in the recording studio, resulting in an amazing remix of “Swoon” that’s sure catch fire this summer.

"You know this is the most amazing thing for Autism Speaks. It's literally autism speaking," Rio's mom beamed while watching her son performing at the studio. True-er words were perhaps never spoken.

Check out the video for yourself…and let us know what you think.