Photographed by Marlin Almonte and Ihor Hrynivetskiy
Ricardo Castro sits down for an exclusive interview.
One of the reasons I believe the MediaLab documentary Type Cast has been so successful in empowering people to take better care of themselves is because of the personal experiences the filmmakers have contributed to it. There is a sense of emotion in every segment of the film—from the b-roll to the call-to-action moments to the soundtrack.
In “God Bless,” a heartrending song by recording artist Ricardo Castro, the fourteen-year-old Queens resident raps about his direct experience with diabetes. In an exclusive interview, Ricardo shared with us that the lyrics were inspired by watching his great-grandmother and grandmother suffer from the disease. When asked how it made him feel to know that diabetes has taken a toll on his family, he responded with concern toward his own health: “It’s upsetting because it puts me and other members of my family in danger of developing diabetes.”
Many people with family members who suffer from diabetes share Ricardo’s concerns, including me. Ricardo’s call to action is to play basketball and exercise. I find it really admirable that he shared a private memoir of his life through song to help spread the message of diabetes prevention and to empower those who have it to be proactive about their health.
Ricardo shares a picture of his great-grandmother.
Ricardo’s artistry comes from the obstacles he faces in life. There is no fiction in his music, and rapper Eminem is a strong influence. “Eminem uses his personal experiences and puts them down on paper instead of writing about things that don’t really matter,” says Ricardo, who appeared upbeat and humorous throughout our interview.
This friendly and poised young man added that he got connected with Urban Arts to lay down the track after participating in a music production workshop led by teaching artist Johnny Voltik: “I came in, made the beat and recorded the song here.”
We hope to see more of Ricardo around the Urban Arts offices, making music and expressing himself. He’s even considering joining the MediaLab team. Stay tuned to find out if he does…