LIVING on the streets and being on the receiving end of physical violence, Alirio Baptista is no stranger to the darker side of life.
As he picks up his pen and looks to write about another chapter of his life, the 20-year-old is making inroads to fulfil his lifetime ambition of becoming a successful rapper.
Alirio, who now currently lives in Bacup after a long-spell in Bury, reminisces on times where he counts his blessings that he is still alive to this day.
“I’ve been stabbed a few times (whilst in America and England) and have a bullet hole in my left leg. I was not sure whether I would make it at times.”
In times of adversity, the Angolan born rapper has come out smiling – he refers to 50-Cent as an inspiration of his after the Brooklyn rapper famously got shot nine times back in 2000.
“You know man, I take inspirations from a lot of rappers across the globe but when I sit back and think about it, what I have been through, I can really relate to Fifty.”
From early in his life, Alirio, or Rio for short has had to learn the art of ‘hustling’. Something that he claims he is not proud of but something he has felt he has had to do when he was struggling financially without the support of his family.
“When I was a younger, I’d be in the queue for the ice cream truck, right? I’d have kids coming up to me paying me £2 to step in front of me in the line. Man, I was making £80 a week doing that – A WEEK!
“There were no narcotics back then.”
He recently bought his own property with a friend of his, his thick Brooklyn accent relays some colourful details about some of the ways he stumped up the money to afford it.
“I was homeless at one point. There was one time, I HAD to go to Hull to do some hustling – I don’t like revealing the exact details but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to ensure your survival.
“I recall one time too, I was invited into a gang member’s house, he was top of the food chain of this gang. I remember just sitting down with his family while they ate apple pie, it was crazy!”
He lived with his auntie in Luanda in Angola until the age of 5 as his mother and father ventured abroad because of gigs his father got to DJ abroad.
Alirio says he had not had a proper settled home environment until he moved to Bury at the age of 14, following spells living across Europe and in the United States – he picked up his accent whilst living in Brooklyn.
His journey across the continent has enabled him to speak six different languages in total, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Lingala from his time in Angola.
His aspirations of being a rapper stemmed from a young age as his father introduced him to genres such as west coast hip-hop and zouk reggae.
The rap alias Alirio opts for is El D.O.N which stands for ‘dominate overcome negativity’. He explains that his name was based on his drive to achieve something in music.
“I do not doubt myself. I have been writing music lyrics since I was seven years old. It is something I have always wanted to do, there has been times where my family have not been that supportive of me and they thought I should have pursued other things but it has always been my dream to succeed so I block out the naysaying.”
Despite nothing being finalised yet, Alirio’s father has been in touch with an unnamed studio owner in Amsterdam who has given the go ahead for him to record his album with professional quality recording equipment.
However, he is struggling to put together the funds to cover the flight costs and the money required to record the album.
“In terms of lyrical content and tracks, I am ready but the money is an issue. Once that is resolved, I will put everything in motion to get it all recorded.”
Alirio has previously scrapped two albums titled ‘The Ugly Side of Me’ and ‘Recipe for a Cold Heart’, of which the former was described as having very minimal amounts of expletive content.
“Nowadays when I spit rhymes, there is more explicit content but most of the time I use topics of violence and such metaphorically to remonstrate the real and true points that I am trying to get across in my music. You know, I want my music to help others overcome things that are making them feel negative in society.”
The opportunity to record the album in the foreseeable future comes with the potential of touring across the African continent afterwards through his father and uncle’s contacts, this would in turn take Alirio full circle to where the journey began.
You can listen to El D.O.N’s All Day Every Day at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUYp7nqjj6o which uses the instrumental from UK Grime MC Stomzy’s Not That Deep. *Explicit language*
By Shaun Gray
All photo credits Alirio Baptista