'Can we live?':15-year-old Franklin County rapper writes new song from his perspective as a young black American

Franklin County rapper Ray Emmanuel, whose real name is Raymond Barnes, has hundreds of thousands of followers.

He's just 15 but he knows with great notoriety comes great power and great responsibility.

His latest rap offering is mostly a series of questions.

Young Franklin County rapper Ray Emmanuel nails performance at Atlanta MLK event

The first is poignant.

"I'll never understand how as soon as I'm born I'm a wanted man," he raps in the video posted on Instagram.

That's what many are African Americans are asking right now -- why being born black in America makes them a target.

Ray penned the song after viewing the slow and agonizing death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

Bunn High freshman gaining attention for musical talent, positive message

His new song 'Can We Live' features direct reference Floyd: "A daily thing how they pull a man down, and now his knee on my neck and we're screaming man down."

It's not the first time he's written of black deaths at the hands of police.

"It's always a part of my life ever since I was small and it's always affected how I live my life So that doesn't change when it comes to music," he told ABC 11 from his manager's studio in Bunn.

Ray says he wasn't all that emotional when he first wrote the song.

But when he performed 'Can We Live' for the first time in an Instagram post, the chorus hit him hard.

As he says, "I'm just sayin' can we live? Can we live? Still have so much to give" he drops his head into his head.

"As I realized what I just said and realized the pain that myself and others have been going through for years because of this topic, it did make me emotional in that moment," he said.

The young rapper's following is not only large, it's diverse.

And it includes a lot of white people who have embraced hip-hop culture.

People he hopes to reach.

"If you want to take part in black culture and not speak up when things like this are happening I feel like it's kind of selfish. So I feel like, as far as speaking to them, I'm definitely speaking to them maybe even more so just because I need them to realize the same things that we already know."

Ray hopes maybe, just maybe, this time will be different and change will come.

"All I want people to learn from it is we have to be better together. Not one race is going to do it. Everybody has to come together. That's the only way any improvement can be made."

Throughout the video you can see pain in the eyes of a youngster caught beyond boyhood and manhood and fearing for his future.

As it ends his refrain, his last lament is: "But I'm just askin' can we live? Can we live?"
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