When South London rapper Ragz-CV saw how badly his grandma was suffering with Alzheimer's he decided to do something to help, in the only way he knew how.
Ryan 'Ragz-CV' Robinson managed to raise £4,000 for the Alzheimer's Society by selling an EP he recorded in his bedroom. The album was produced and inspired by his 74-year-old granddad and fuses both Ryan and his granddad's musical styles into what they call jazz-hip hop.
"The EP, Paying Homage to the King, started out as a project to keep my granddad Robbie 'King' Robinson's legacy alive through me" said Ryan.
"He was a great musician and toured Germany and the UK after moving here from Jamaica when he was 21, he suffers from diabetes now and finds it hard to walk.
When I was recording the album, I started to see how badly my nan Maureen was suffering with Alzheimer's because I was visiting my grandparents' house every day and decided to do something about it."
When Ryan contacted the Alzheimer's Society with his proposal, they were thrilled; he agreed to donate 50% of what he made from selling the EP to them, but ended up giving much more. He said:
"It felt good giving the money to charity rather than just taking it, because the thing is, I did promise 50% to the charity but most of the time I gave 100% because I wanted to make as much money as possible for them. Building a reputation and doing good is more important than money."
Ryan, 26, even talked his workplace, the Co-Op store in Forestdale, Croydon into helping him out; they allowed him to sell his EP in store for one weekend only, making him an incredible £600. After selling the hard copies of the record, which retails at £5, in nine different Co-Op stores around south London, he had made £1,500.
But the young rapper, who also runs a carpet cleaning business, took none of this money for himself throughout the whole project, only keeping enough back to cover production costs and to make another batch of CDs. However, Ryan did make sure he found enough money to pay granddad Robbie, a full time carer for his wife of 50 years Maureen, for his production services.
After releasing the EP (which is also sold on iTunes) on September 19th 2013, Ryan was shocked by the positive public response he got, and has won two awards as a result, the Inspiration Award at 'Hob Nob' night in Hackney, and a Community Pillar award at the UK Unsigned Hype Awards.
"I never expected the EP to get to where it got to," he said. "I just thought I'd make a couple of hundred pounds, 'every little helps' as they say. Me and my nan were close before, but she's gone now, she's just there physically.
Before she had it I just thought Alzheimer's was a memory loss disease, but now I realise she can't eat, dress or go to the toilet by herself. Sometimes you need something bad to happen to you to give you the courage to stand up and do something."
As well as Ryan's grandma Maureen Robinson, there are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to one million by 2021. The Alzheimer's Society is a support and research charity for people with dementia, their families and carers. Through a network of local services, they touch the lives of over 30,000 people every week, providing practical services and support for people with dementia.
Inspired by the charity's work Ryan wanted to be actively involved with the society and so visited the Alzheimer's Society Headquarters to meet community fundraiser Harjit Kaur. 'Ragz-CV has been a fantastic support to us here at the Society.' said Harjit. She continued:
"Alzheimer's Society supports people affected by dementia in a number of ways, through one-to-one support, information programmes, dementia cafés and advocacy services across London. We are grateful that the support of fundraisers like Ragz-CV will help us to continue this vital work."
Ryan has attracted the nickname 'a rapper with a cause' for his charity work which he is planning to continue with: 'A lot of young people now are selfish and I don't blame them because I was the same. The project has motivated me. I definitely want to work with young people more. I've been going to schools and colleges giving motivational speeches about my EP, and the reaction is great to see, I think they listen to me because I'm not a teacher or a parent.'
And Ryan is not stopping yet: 'One of the things I really want to do is a school road show, visiting different schools and give motivational speeches to bigger audiences bringing along other inspirational people I know. I'd rather take a risk and be homeless than live comfortably miserable.'Suggest a correction