Rapper Ray Emmanuel stands out not just because of his age but because of his message.
"We should build each other up instead of tear each other down," one lyrics goes. Another: "Why can't everybody just love. The kind that was exemplified and sent from up above.
The 14-year-old's expertly honed craft caught the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s youngest daughter, Bernice King, who extended an invitation to him to perform at the annual commemorative service for her father in Atlanta on Monday. Emmanuel said his music is inspired by Dr. King's dream.
"I feel like I'm different because I really try to make an effort to put out a positive message to the people," Emmanuel said.
The North Carolina teen has been perfecting his rhymes since he started writing poetry at seven years old. Rap followed soon after that and he started sharing his music on Instagram.
"Once I kind of caught a lot of attention, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing with it and spreading a positive message in a way to drown out all the other negative music that I feel reaches younger generations and then it's not really the best influence," Emmanuel said.
His approach has won the support of other artists and celebrities like Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. The King Center also took notice and invited Emmanuel to perform during this year's annual service commemorating the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Dr. Bernice King said that my music was very inspiring to her which meant a lot to me being that her father was one of the most inspirational men, like ever," Emmanuel said. "He was an activist, he was a pastor ... I, of course, write rap music but I feel like through writing music … I want to spread the same message and carry on his legacy."