BELLEVILLE, Illinois — Briyan Jackson, 13, loves music. The Belleville West Junior High School Honor student has written several songs in the past year.
"I really like rapping, but I've also written gospel and hip-hop songs, too," Jackson said.
A week ago the eighth-grader pulled out his cell phone and penned a rap song he calls "I Matter."
"And my dad helped me a little on it to make sure everything sounds right. It wasn't easy. At first, it went from all lives matter, black lives matter to then I said I was like 'Your individual self matters,' and that's how I came up with the title," said Jackson.
In May, his brother's friend, 14-year-old Jaylon McKenzie, once called a football phenom, was at a party in Venice, Illinois. Police say a fight broke out. Bullets flew.
Jaylon, caught in the crossfire, was killed.
Two months later, Ien Coleman, a family friend of Briyan Jackson, was shot and killed in North St. Louis County.
He, too, was only 14 years old.
"They're too young to be falling to gun violence. Both crimes made me sad, but then I wanted to do something about it," Briyan told 5 On Your Side's Robert Townsend.
Briyan's now taking a stand, behind the microphone at his family's music studio.
Briyan hopes bad guys will hear his song, put down their guns and stop the violence.
"I am very proud of him," said Brandon Jackson, Briyan's dad.
In the meantime, Briyan's principal gave "I Matter" two thumbs up. The song is becoming a hit on social media.
Now, the young rapper with a purpose plans to share it with other schools, churches and communities.
"It's more about the message, getting it out and if it goes all the way, then he's done his job," said Briyan's father.
"I think it can make difference especially if people listen closely to the words," said Briyan.